LATINO VOICES
03/07/2013 07:01 pm ET

Gabriel Gomez, Senate Candidate, Slammed For Speaking Spanish In Candidacy Announcement

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Gabriel Gomez Speaks Spanish, Sparking Debate

Is English going the way of the printed newspaper? One Boston columnist seems to think so.

In an article published Wednesday, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe took issue with Gabriel Gomez for launching his U.S. Senate campaign in Spanish rather than English. This bothered Jacoby, who thinks Massachusetts voters, the great majority of whom speak English, should be addressed in their native language first, all the time.

“Spanish is a beautiful language,” Jacoby writes. “But pandering to Hispanics by privileging Spanish in public life is a dangerous strategy for partisan success, and a reckless way to treat American unity.”

The sentiment seems a bit exaggerated. Gomez, a Republican former NAVY Seal with a business background who hopes to take the seat John Kerry left vacant, only utters one sentence in Spanish before switching to English, which he speaks for the rest of the announcement. He departs with one more Spanish-language sentence, saying he hopes he’ll see you one day in the future. Check out the video below.

Jacoby, who apparently doesn’t have much of an ear for the language, writes that Gomez “speaks Spanish like a native.” In fact, Gomez speaks Spanish with a bit of English-tinged accent. Doesn’t sound like he’s interested in dropping the country’s lingua franca any time soon.

We reached out to Gomez for comment through his campaign website, but did not immediately hear back from him.

Jacoby went on to criticize Marco Rubio for delivering a taped Spanish version of his response to the State of the Union Address, writing:

Why didn’t Republicans arrange for a full-blown response to the State of the Union address in Chinese or French or Vietnamese? Why hasn’t Gomez made a point of introducing himself in Portuguese or Italian or Russian?

Well, here’s one good reason: more than 37.5 million people spoke Spanish at home as of 2011, according to the most recent American Community Survey, making it the most common language in the United States besides English by long and far. The second runner up was Chinese, with 2.9 million speakers.

Jacoby’s criticisms of Gomez didn’t sit well with Julio Ricardo Varela of news blog Latino Rebels, who wrote:

To suggest that politicians speaking Spanish will only divide the country reeks of neo-nativism. If Jacoby really wants unity, he could start by getting over his fears and understand that making political parties more diverse is really what America is all about.

A rousing Twitter debate ensued, with opinion writer Charles P. Garcia dropping by. Check out the highlights in the slideshow above.

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