Why does Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum hate America the Caribbean? During the recent Puerto Rico GOP primary, he insisted that island residents needed to adopt English as the official language -- a position that's neither enshrined in the U.S. Constitution nor culturally appropriate, given that Spanish has been the dominant tongue in Puerto Rico for roughly 500 years. There may be good and bad reasons to support Statehood for Puerto Rico, but English literacy shouldn't be one of them.
More recently, Santorum criticized President Obama for letting his daughter, Malia, travel to Mexico on Spring Break, citing State Department travel warnings about the dangers related to drug violence. "If the administration is saying that it's not safe to have people down there, then just because you can send 25 Secret Service agents doesn't mean you should do it," Santorum said. "And when the government is saying this is not safe, then you don't set the example by sending your kids down there."
Well, except that the "first daughter" was in a part of Mexico that -- like Cancun and the Riviera Maya -- was specifically exempted from the Mexico travel warning issued by the State Department in February. Perpetuating that kind of ignorance is not only sloppy for a presidential candidate but can cause unnecessary anxiety for travelers -- not to mention real economic damage to Mexico.
Just to show that it's not all about politics, the final news item that caught my eye this week comes from March Madness, where some members of the University of Southern Mississippi pep band showered a Latino player for Kansas State, Angel Rodriguez, with chants of "Where's your green card?". Which was ignorant in several ways, not least the fact that Rodriguez hails from Puerto Rico -- making him a U.S. citizen. The students involved were kicked out of the band and had their scholarships revoked.
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