The Triggering Tongue of the Conquistador

The first debate, in two installments, of the Democratic candidates for president has come and gone. On night one, a memorable takeaway was the prolific use of Spanish by three of the candidates, along with one of the moderators. Entire minutes passed without a word of English being heard. No, the tongue of the Conquistador filled the air.

Talk about feeling unsafe! Talk about being “triggered”! America’s Democratic Left fumes endlessly about European crimes against the benevolent “others,” the invariably peaceful, harmonious peoples of the world, then their presidential candidates impose the language of the European Conquistador upon our passive populace.

Yeah, that’s right. Spanish speakers don’t get a pass. Latin America’s heritage is as soaked in blood as anything that ever happened in El Norte. Not only the rapacious slaughter imposed upon those indigenous “first peoples” by the Spaniards. No, the indigenous Americans (or is it the “Aztlanx”?) also have to answer for the slaughter and slavery and endless warfare that defined life in this hemisphere prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. The genocidal wars of the Aztecs, the human sacrifices of the Mayans.

The truth may hurt, but it will also set you free. Look backward through antiquity and all the world was the same—life was nasty, brutish, and short.

None of that stopped “Beto” O’Rourke from launching his opening statement in Spanish. There’s a way to differentiate yourself if you’re not a member of some “protected status group.” Good job, Beto. Not to be outdone, Senator Cory Booker painstakingly mangled his way through a few sentences of Spanish. The candidate of authentic Hispanic descent, Julian Castro, also had to sprinkle his statements with Spanish. And the moderator from Telemundo, José Diaz-Balart, did his part to make sure America knows that Spanish is now an official language of national discourse.

What a spectacle. Castro and Diaz-Balart couldn’t restrain themselves to merely speaking Spanish. The recent victims of tragic deaths on the border weren’t just Oskar and Valeria Ramirez, but “OH-D-SKAR” and “VA-D-LERDIA” “RDA-MEEDEZ.” Make sure you don’t just roll those soft consonants—make them hard consonants. Let everyone know you’re not kidding. You speak Spanish. We are very impressed.

But maybe we’re also disgusted.

Warum sollen wir nicht Deutsch sprechen? Meine Voreltern kommt aus Deutschland, also ich wunsche Deutsch zu sprechen!

Is that unintelligible? Tough beans. We all must assert our special group identities, after all. Heck, on night two, why didn’t Andrew Yang speak Chinese? Why didn’t Kamala Harris, who inserted a calculated bit of Afro-American twang into her enunciation, go full ethnic on us? Harris, the privileged child of a scientist from India and an economist from Jamaica, might have been truly impressive if she had mingled the mellifluous lilt of Tamil with a laid back Jamaican Patois. These things matter.

On night two, trigger warnings were still in order, although the woke Spanish didacts weren’t out in the same abundance as the night before. It wasn’t until 13 minutes into the second debate that moderator José Diaz-Balart addressed Pete Buttigieg with a “buenas noches,” wherein the gifted 37-year-old cut loose with a torrent of fluent Spanish. Back at ya, José. Then again, Buttigieg reputedly speaks seven languages, so why not? English only? That would be, um . . . nationalistic.

One may hope that the people most offended by this display of pretentiousness and pandering are those viewers who happen to be of Spanish descent. Because believe it or not, despite what the hard Left hate-mongering identity politics pimps want us to think, most people—including native Spanish speakers— like being American. Most people arriving in America, even now, adopt an American identity and embrace it with enthusiasm. They see right through the O’Rourkes, the Castros, the Diaz-Balarts. They see it as a pathetic attempt to manipulate them. Which it is.

The entire implicit narrative, however, is what deserves the most scathing criticism. Since when is American culture, derived from Western Europe, so toxic that this entire country has to be carved into segregated “safe spaces?” Why are millions of Latinx—to use the breathlessly awakened terminology employed by Elizabeth Warren, who does not herself speak Spanish (or Cherokee), but sure knows how to utter a gender-neutral word—flooding into America, if America is so rotten?

And when, and how, did the rest of the world, but absolutely not Europe or the Anglosphere (yeah, the Anglosphere, deal with it), become such a wonderful, tranquil place, where throughout history, human rights and dignity were respected, and the earth and nature were treasured? Are you kidding? Everyone else is good, but we’re bad. Is that it? How does such an ignorant, biased, hateful, seditious version of “history” find its way into our classrooms and lecture halls, much less onto the podiums of leftist politicians across the nation?

A word to O’Rourke, Castro, Booker, and yes, you too, Elizabeth Warren (living proof that pretending to be nonwhite gives Americans an advantage in their careers, not a disadvantage): Grow Up. This is a beautiful nation, and we’re going to keep it that way. You can spew your high school Spanish on the national stage all you like, but the only people who are going to cheer for you are a handful of very angry white liberals who hate themselves, their nation, and their God.

Maybe all this Spanish on the national stage will have one unanticipated benefit. Maybe it will trigger a discussion as to why the English settlers and their descendants are considered to be the arch villains of history, whereas the Spanish settlers and their descendants are now unimpeachable victims. Somehow that doesn’t compute. The English settlers came up with the Constitution and built a nation that remains largely uncorrupted, prosperous, and safe. Can we say the same for most of those Latinx nations south of the border?

The hard fact about the Spanish language is that it is just as Eurocentric as English. But instead of telling the story of individual rights, from the Magna Carta to the Civil Rights Act, it is the triggering tongue of the Conquistador.

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Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).