Nearly half of white Republicans are bothered by use of foreign languages in public: PEW

Nearly half of white Republicans are bothered by use of foreign languages in public: PEW
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, left) and President Donald Trump (right), image via Screengrab.

When he was campaigning for president of the United States in 2008, Democrat Barack Obama infuriated some Republicans with his assertion that Americans would be much better off if they were multilingual like residents of some European countries. And, ten years later, not much has changed: according to a newly released survey by Pew Research Center, white Republicans in the U.S. are much more likely to be disturbed by the use of foreign languages in public than Democrats.


Pew found that 47% of white Republicans said it would bother them “some” or “a lot” to “hear people speak a language other than English in a public place.” But Pew found that only 18% of white Democrats would be bothered by that.

The survey also found that among whites in general — Republican, Democrat or otherwise — 34% were bothered by the use of foreign languages in public compared to 25% of blacks or 24% of Asians. Among Americans overall, Pew found that 70% described their discomfort with hearing foreign languages spoken in public as either “not much” or “not at all.”

Among white Republicans, there have been many examples of shaming others for their use of languages other than English in the United States. President Donald Trump, during the 2016 presidential GOP primary, criticized former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (a fluent Spanish speaker) for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, which Trump claimed encouraged Hispanic immigrants to not learn English. And in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ran some attack ads claiming that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wasn’t a true Republican because he, like Democratic Sen. John Kerry, he spoke French.

Regardless, many Democrats as well as some Republicans have courted the Latino vote by being interviewed in Spanish on the Univision network. Jeb Bush has been interviewed in Spanish on Univision’s “Al Punto,” hosted by Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos, and recently, Democratic presidential hopefuls Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Cory Booker have been interviewed in Spanish on that same program.

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