Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are walking down the street, and you pass two people having a private conversation. You overhear them, and to your shock and horror, they are not talking in English.
Do you immediately turn around to berate them for not speaking god’s favorite language? Do you seethe in anger that they are offending every decent American by speaking Mandarin or French or Klingon or whatever the hell that noise is (but let’s face it — it’s probably Spanish)? Or do you mind your own damn business and just keep walking, barely even noticing that non-English words had briefly buzzed around you?
Well, if you are a white conservative, the odds are about even that you’ll get pissed off. Yes, a new survey has found that 47 percent of white Republicans say it would bother them “some” or “a lot” to “hear people speak a language other than English in a public place.” In contrast, just 18 percent of white Democrats say this would bug them.
Keep in mind that conservatives regularly accuse liberals of being “too sensitive.” A fair question is: What could be more hypersensitive than getting offended at total strangers having a private conversation, using rights that are constitutionally protected, performing actions that will not affect your life in even the smallest way?
Talk about fragile snowflakes.
In any case, the study also found that “among all racial groups, whites are most likely to be bothered hearing foreign languages.” More than one-third (34%) of white people clench their teeth if they overhear a “muchas gracias,” but only about one-quarter of African Americans (25%) and Asian Americans (24%) are similarly repulsed. Meanwhile, a mere 13% of Latinos get irked when people start jabbering in some foreign tongue.
Now, the good news is that a strong majority (70%) of Americans rated their level of unease at “not much” or “not at all” when it comes to hearing a different language. However, only about one-quarter of white Republicans (26%) fall into this category.
Clearly, this is a group that is very uncomfortable with different ethnicities and the changing makeup of America. Sure, we all knew that already, but the study puts some disturbing numbers on this commonly accepted idea.
For example, did you know that 37% of Republicans believe that “having a majority of the population made up of blacks, Asians, Hispanics and other racial minorities” would be bad for the country? And in case you’re wondering, yes, this is indeed the highest share among any demographic group surveyed.
Hell, more than half of Republicans (60%) believe that a majority nonwhite population will “weaken American customs and values.” Whew, it’s a good thing that it was “economic anxiety” that motivated Trump voters. Otherwise, I might start to think there was something racial going on here.
Of course, there is more in the study that implies the GOP is not the place for ethnic minorities. For example, “Republicans also stood out in the survey for their skepticism of interracial marriage.”
In 2019, who the hell is still “skeptical” of interracial marriage? And is this the message that the GOP wants to send to all those multiethnic Millennials?
The key point to remember is that a powerful trope of conservatives, one that is hammered home every minute on Fox News and relentlessly driven into the psyche of the nation, is that Republicans are the “real Americans,” and that their values represent mainstream thought. For example, certain right-wing commenters bemoan “radical” progressive ideas and mock the idea of diversity.
However, most Americans (57%) say it is “very good” that “the U.S. population is made up of people of many different races and ethnicities.” Just 39% of Republicans agree with that statement, meaning that they are the outliers when it comes to diversity.
So who is out of touch here? Who is outside the mainstream?
Hey, look at the numbers and do the math.
I’ll leave you with one final statistic: More than 20% of American residents speak a language other than English at home.
This means that, statistically, if five different people invite a white Republican to their place for dinner, there’s going to be a screaming argument in at least one of those houses.
But hopefully, everybody will be shouting in English.
Featured image: A bronze medallion depicting the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. Spanish is often called ‘the language of Cervantes.’