Arnold's Language Barrier

Mon Sep. 8, 2003 3:00 AM EDT


Gubernatorial recall candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has so far successfully dodged questions about his racy past and his alleged centrist politics, may be in for a rocky recall ride. Called on by the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group to step down from the English-only group, U.S. English, Arnold may have to answer some tough questions very soon.

The League of United Latin American Citizens exposed Schwarzenegger's ties to U.S. English late last month -- LULAC argues that the English-only organization pushes an anti-immigrant agenda.

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U.S. English Chairman, Mauro E. Mujica, however, defended his organization as a bridge between cultural divides. But the group's questionable past may overshadow any shred of credibility the organization had. U.S. English -- which, among other things, calls on the goverment to perform its official biz in English -- has quite a history of rather dubious players, to say the least. Perhaps the most infamous among them being James Lubinskas, a spokesman for the group, and John Tanton, the group's co-founder. According to the Washington Post's Terry M. Neal, a private memo written by Tanton illustrates the co-founder's racist tendencies:

"'In this society, will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile,' Tanton wrote in his 1988 memo. 'Can homo contraceptives compete with horno progenitivo if our borders aren't controlled... Perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down. As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion.'"
And the plot thickens. Neal further reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed Lubinskas as a contributing editor to the racist publication the American Renaissance magazine. The magazines editor, Jared Taylor, is also leader of the white-supremecist group, Council of Conservative Citzens (Warning: graphic, racist propaganda to follow). In fact, Neal reports that Lubinskas has even shared a stage with former Louisiana Klansman, David Duke.

Guilt by association? It's debatable. But Arnold's past, including his highly-publicised support for the anti-affirmative action measure Proposition 187, seems to lend a clue about his less-than-public politics.

Mr. Universe, however is still on U.S. English's Advisory Board (along with Charleton Heston) and continues to stand his ground. According to The Associated Press, Arnie says that he is "the poster child for immigrants." In fact, says his spokesman, Schwarzenegger only hopes to foster immigrant success by pushing for an English-only country. The Washington Times reports:

'Arnold Schwarzenegger came to this country with a few dollars in his pocket and not speaking the English language, and he realized the importance of learning to speak English as quickly as possible to achieve your American dreams,' [Sean Walsh] said."
Sorry Arnie, but the plight of a European immigrant bodybuilder seems a far cry from a poor, migrant farmerworker.

But Arnie can't take all the credit for his dodgy politics, argues Mike Davis writing for Mother Jones. After all, the Toolenator hasn't acted alone:

"But it would be a mistake, in any case, to think that Arnie is the actual star of his latest and most lavish film. As all the punters in Sacramento have pointed out, the real title should be: 'Return from the Grave: Wilson Part Three.' The ex-governor is the specter haunting the recall.

His veteran staff (including George Gorton who ran Boris Yeltsin's reelection) control all the important strings moving Schwarzenegger, while Wilson himself drives a sales campaign which has successfully recruited most of the billionaires in the state. As a result, the inner circle of Schwarzenegger's "populist" crusade looks like a Bohemia Grove toga party: Donald Bren, George Schultz, David Murdock, Warren Buffett, and so on."

Nevertheless, Arnie's association with the infamous U.S. English isn't going to sit well with Latin voters who make up a significant percentage of the vote. The Times quotes LULAC's director of policy and legislation who argues that Schwarzenegger's ties to the English-only organization, in fact, make the type of strong statement that Arnie has long tried to avoid:
LULAC's [Gabriela] Lemus said Mr. Schwarzenegger's membership on the board of U.S. English 'does not bode well for Hispanics.'

'So many of us support bilingualism and bilingual education and maintaining our culture, and he's essentially saying it's not valid by being part of this board that has got this whole anti-immigrant, underlying racist mentality,' she said."

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