Friday, March 30, 2012

Of Many, One


By Franklin D. López
Journalist, broadcaster & political prisoner

(Opinion for Latin Trends Magazine: Published in the April 2012)

It was not created by Emiliano Zapata, José Martí or Luis Muñoz Marín! It was the creation of three Founding fathers of our Nation: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson & John Adams. It is our National motto: “e Pluribus Unum”: of Many, One. This simple latin phrase encapsulates the great ethnic diversity of peoples that integrates the United States and its territories and the basis for the strength of our Nation. Our National motto was written with the spirit of unity in mind. It serves as a catalytic agent to unite the energies and forces of a diverse society and Nation.

As a prelude for the American Conservative Union convention held in Washington D.C. February 9-11, 2012, Vdare.Com Columnist and well known white supremacist Allan Wall wrote a column with the following statements: “To put it in a nutshell, Puerto Ricans are a distinct people and consider themselves a distinct people. It’s in their land, it’s in the society, it’s in their hearts. They are Puerto Ricans, and they feel it. Entering the U.S. union as a state is wrong for Puerto Rico—and it is wrong for the United States. Don’t let the island’s small size fool you. If Puerto Rico becomes a state, it will be a Trojan Horse for the Hispanicization of the United States. Some might say, what’s the big deal? There are many more Mexicans in the United States than Puerto Ricans. That’s true, and mass Mexican immigration, and the way it is handled is indeed a cultural threat to the United States.” Meanwhile Congressman Doc Hasting, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee said on his web site (http://naturalresources.house.gov/Videos/?VideoID=WyfOyl5HetA) that before Puerto Rico decides on the statehood issue it should vote on the English Only language question. Hasting made his statement as an introduction to the debate on the U.S. House of Representatives HR 2499 related to a status referendum of American citizens residing in the territory of Puerto Rico.

Let's dissect these issues one by one. First: Mr. Wall's statements are offensive and anti-American. Our Nation's blood has been enriched by immigrants from Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, and almost every country or region of the Earth. It is totally absurd, arrogant, segregationist, and racist to pretend to limit the ethnic foundations of our Nation on the white anglo- saxon Christians who came in the Mayflower. The first European who landed at Plymouth Rock was just a continuation of the first trip of Christopher Columbus in the discovery of America. Subsequently, immigrants from Africa, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and many parts of the World have sought refuge from religion, dictatorships, and to pursue the American Dream in our union of states. Mr. Wall's zealot ideology pretends to spark a fire of disunity and division in the United States that has been the structure of extreme right radical groups associated with hate crimes against African Americans, Jews, Asians, and Latinos. Diversity of ethnicity is the core strength of the United States. Mr. Wall needs to untangle his confused and distorted spirit.

Second, on the issue of English Only many politicians, mostly conservatives, have been trying to use the “language vehicle” to frame the growth and influence of non-english speaking ethnic groups in order to maintain their political base, status and economic control. The United States is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual society. English, Spanish, French, Russian, German, Mandarin, Japanese should be taught in our schools. Many members of the European Community teach their students 4 or more foreign languages, starting as early as kindergarten, simply because it opens multiple venues of intellectual growth and prosperity to their citizens. English is our “de facto” language and 96% of our population says that they speak it well. But to impose one language has the same characteristic of imposing a religion, a political ideology, or a particular cultural lifestyle. Congressman Hasting's position on this is contrary to he historical immigration record of our Nation and the spirit of the Constitution and civil rights laws enacted by the Federal Government. I am certain that Mr. Hasting has limited his intellectual baggage to one language. The best thing to do is to invade his district and alert his constituents of his segregationist postures towards American citizens who never refused to serve our Nation in the military!

Third, on the issue of status Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States as a result of its expansionist policies in 1898. In 1917, by an act of Congress (Jones Act) American citizenship was granted. Since the First World War and subsequent wars and conflicts in which the United States has participated, American citizens living in the territory of Puerto Rico have served the Nation with honor and dignity, thousands of them giving their lives for democracy and freedom. As American citizens we have an undeniable right to be treated as equals or to be citizens of an independent country.


Those conservative politicians (Republicans or Democrats) who pretend to deny our right to vote for the President, elect members of Congress and the Senate with the same obligations and privileges of citizens residing in any of the 50 states of the Union are using the issue in the same manner that was used against denying equal rights to African-Americans or using the immigration issue to curtail the growing political influence Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominican- Americans or Salvadorean-Americans. 


Denying political equality to American citizens residing in the territory of Puerto Rico would reaffirm the segregationist and apartheid policies of the past. If those who still embrace the dark segregationist policies of the past don't get it, please watch the movie directed by Sergio Arau “A day without Mexicans.”

As African-Americans and other ethnic groups succeeded, we will succeed as well. Time is on our side. We shall overcome!

Opinion for Latin Trends Magazine: Published in the April 2012
Notes on Mr. Franklin D. López
Former writer for The Associated Press & United Press International
First Hispanic to be appointed National Field Coordinator in the 1976 Presidential Campaign of Jimmy Carter. First Puerto Rican to be elected Chair of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico in 1978 by popular vote. Editor of Channel 24, the All News Network in Spanish in Puerto Rico. Political Prisoner from July 17,1994-July 26, 1996. Writer & Businessperson. Born in the South Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico.