I recently learned of a group calling themselves “We the People, California’s Crusader.” [If it’s “We”, shouldn’t it be “Crusaders”? I’m just askin’.] They seem to be yet another group of right-wing hatemongers.
What brought them to my attention was a link to an article on the web site of “The San Bernardino Sun“. I’m sure that most of us are familiar with issues surrounding billboards of an atheist nature. The furor in San Bernardino County (Hesperia, to be specific) is related to billboards, but this time it’s because of the language used.
I am not implying that the message intended to be conveyed was somehow offensive to some people. It seems that the fact that the message was written in Spanish is what set this group off.
What, exactly, did the billboard (several of them, actually) say? A photograph that I saw showed this text, “Junto a ti necesitas respuestas financieras“. Basically, the sign tells potential customers of Wells Fargo that they can provide the financial answers the customers need. It says this in Spanish, not English.
Uh-oh! It appears that Wells Fargo even provides a version of their web site en Español! Why, the sheer audacity of those banking people to do such a thing is offensive beyond belief, isn’t it?
Well… actually, it isn’t…unless you’re a member of “We the People, California’s Crusader.”
What is it about the Spanish language that seems to have caused these people such consternation that their panties are all in a bunch?
The group seems to believe that by placing a Spanish-language billboard in an area where (according to the U.S. Census Bureau) 46 percent of the population is Latino and 34 percent speaks a language other than English at home, Wells Fargo is somehow “pandering to illegal immigrants.” Is it realistic to expect that a person crossing a US border illegally is going to head straight for Hesperia because they heard that the billboards there were in Spanish?
The founder of the group, Raymond Herrera, had this statement to make, “It is incumbent upon all Americans that when you see a decadence arise that will threaten our language and culture, our national identity, to rise to the occasion and push the awareness button and alert the people.” Wells Fargo is, by their heinous actions, threatening our language and culture (or so Mr. Herrera seems to think).
In a video posted to the California’s Crusader web site, Mr. Herrera refers to the advertisement as “the betrayal of the American people by corporate America.” Perhaps I’m missing something important here, but I certainly don’t feel “betrayed” in any way by Wells Fargo’s use of Spanish. In the same video, Mr. Herrera states that he sees the billboard as “…Wells Fargo Bank, advertising their banking services to illegal aliens on American soil.”
Excuse me? Since when did the ability to converse in a language other than English become an indicator that a person is an illegal alien? I’d better alert the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the campus area here in town is rife with illegal aliens threatening my way of life… and my language… and my culture… I’d better have them stop by my neighborhood and round up all the people near me who speak Spanish and Vietnamese on a regular basis. Yeah, right.
Mr. Herrera even had the gall to petition the Hesperia City Council to require that billboards in the city be in English. The city of Hesperia is lucky that Mr. Herrera did not get his way. The “California’s Crusader” web site says this about the attempt:
Although the Hesperia City Council declined to take action in support of English language billboards, one city council member requested that the city attorney explore the possibility of a resolution in support of the English language in the City of Hesperia.
For some reason, I don’t think the city attorney is going to go very far in his exploration. I’m guessing that any attempts at legislation that would please Mr. Herrera would be quickly met with court battles over 1st Amendment rights. The only legislation that would pass muster would be one that does nothing more than support the state’s Constitution.
Is Wells Fargo exclusively using the Spanish language in their advertising campaigns? No. Do they have customers who speak Spanish? Yes. Somehow I don’t think a California court is going to find that Wells Fargo is violating the appropriate section of the state’s constitution:
The Legislature and officials of the State of California shall take all steps necessary to insure that the role of English as the common language of the State of California is preserved and enhanced.
I would not be at all surprised if Mr. Herrera or his group filed suit demanding action on such grounds, however.
What exactly is this group, and what do they hope to achieve? These are the words that the group currently uses on their web site to describe themselves:
We the People, California’s Crusader, is a grassroots, all-volunteer network seeking to influence – via activism – institutions of political corruption: President Calderon and the Mexican government, President Obama and the U.S. government – including state and municipalities – and the corporations and employers that unlawfully hire and exploit illegal aliens.
What are the individual members’ motives? I suppose you’d have to ask each of them, and hope that they’d give you an honest answer. For some of them, I think it’s simply racism, hiding behind their mask of righteous indignation.