Latinos for Trump cofounder Marco Gutierrez, has been widely ridiculed for summing up the threat of illegal Hispanic immigration as "a taco truck on every corner." While the phrasing deserves mockery, Gutierrez’ underlying point is a lot less funny.
The point, according to Gutierrez, is that "my culture is a very dominant culture ... it's imposing." This is a fear I've seen both pundits and regular folks express over the years: Latino immigration, left unchecked, will lead to Latinos taking over the country.
The issue doesn't seem to be of Latinos seizing power by brute force (though some people do seem to worry about that), just that there will be enough of them to reshape America to their will. Beat out white people for political office. Keep us pressing one for English. Expose us to their Hispanic-ness whether we like it or not (taco trucks everywhere!). Sometimes it's simply a resentment that they're Not Like Us and their imposing, dominant culture is making the country Not Like It Used To Be.
This isn't surprising. There's a long tradition in the U.S. of identifying a Real American not as someone who believes in American ideals but as someone of the right race (white), bloodline (Anglo-Saxon, ideally) and religion (Protestant). People who don't come from the right stock may qualify as American if they allow the "American melting pot" to make them as WASP-like as possible; one of the justifications for having mandatory Protestant prayers in schools, for instance, was that imposing Protestantism made people more American. Part of the current terror is the fear that Latinos won't WASPify themselves enough.
Right-winger Mark Krikorian captured this viewpoint in a 2009 post
on National Review
's website, discussing his outrage that Sondra Sotomayor had actually corrected someone on how to pronounce her name. Krikorian informed his readers that was the height of non-white unAmerican rudeness: sure, we'll tolerate "newcomers" eating their freakish foreign food and worshipping their bizarre foreign deities, but "one of the areas where conformity is appropriate is how your new countrymen say your name, since that's not something the rest of us can just ignore, unlike what church you go to or what you eat for lunch."
Krikorian's reference to "newcomers" is telling seeing as Sotomayor was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. By any sane standard, she was a real American from the start (and her religion is mundane Catholicism). So either Krikorian has no idea what he's talking about, or he's making a pitch to NR readers who still think Latinos are entitled to be here only as long as white people grant them permission.
And since when was it rude to ask someone to pronounce your name right? Krikorian says that of course it isn't, but "there ought to be limits" — and he thinks Sotomayor with her exotic foreignness and unAmerican name falls outside them. This is hardly a unique view, unfortunately. I remember a sitcom episode a couple of decades back in which the protagonist deliberately mispronouncing a Latina's name is presented as a hysterically funny putdown of an uppity ethnic character.
Like I said, this is not a new thing. It's the same freakout people had when they thought the Catholics were going to take over. Or the Jews. Or the Chinese. Or the Japanese. Or the Muslims. Etcetera, etcetera, rinse and repeat for the newest minority.
Gutierrez and Krikorian are pitching a cramped, pathetic, antiquated view of what it takes to be American. Hopefully come November, the voters will reject it.