Per the Times, Arizona (like other states -- news to us) has a law requiring office-holders to be "proficient" in English, without quite spelling out what constitutes proficiency. One woman, running for a seat on the governing board of a small city called San Luis, has found her place on the ballot challenged by political opponents.
Indeed, it sounds as though Alejandrina Cabrera does speak English poorly -- "hesitant and heavily accented," the story describes it. We can certainly imagine circumstances under which this might be an impediment to effective governing; on the other hand, especially in a border town, so can a poor command of Spanish.
What astonishes us is that the challenge to Cabrera comes from one of her high school classmates, San Luis mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla. And hear is how Mayor Escamilla describes Cabrera's candidacy:
I do feel this opening a box of Pandora ...
Wait a second. "A box of Pandora?" Yup. That's right: Escamilla doesn't speak English all that well himself, and has said so on TV:
I feel I don’t dominate 100 percent, but I can still get by,” said Mr. Escamilla .... “I can write, read and understand it very well.”
Um, dude: glass houses?
Look, we ourselves live in a country whose predominant language we speak less than fluently. "Hesitant and heavily accented" is a goal we hope someday to achieve; we're still closer to "like a mentally deficient toddler." And we have a fellow expat here whose language skills are far superior to our own, as he lets us know whenever the opportunity arises, in a way which has probably limited the number of invitations he finds in his inbox. He's a smart guy, and seems like a very decent one, but ... we prefer to take our grammar advice from natives.
In the same way, we are inclined to think that (a) Mayor Escamilla is a jerk of the first class, and that (b) his grammatically-challenged remarks about Ms. Cabrera reveal the truth about the political right's passion for English. It's not a matter of not racism or nativism, so much as straightforward gerrymandering. They don't really care about how well a candidate speaks the language, so long as the candidate is from their own party. The "English Only" movement is just another way to weed out people who might vote Democrat.
Should have been obvious that these guys never cared about English proficiency. After all, they elected Bush.