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Bilingual Invitation Sends Arizona Mayor Into an Orange Hued Fit

Mayor of Huachuca City, Arizona, outraged by Border Mayors Association event invitation written in English and "Spanish/Mexican."

Mayor Ken Taylor of Huachuca City, Arizona

An Arizona mayor made headlines for his outburst over receiving a bilingual U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association meeting invitation, saying he refuses an invitation “in Spanish/Mexican.” Mayor Ken Taylor of Huachuca City, Arizona, used divisive rhetoric strikingly similar to the derogatory tone that has fueled Trump’s campaign since day one.

“I will NOT attend a function that is sent to me in Spanish/Mexican,” Taylor said in an email to former El Paso, Texas, Mayor John Cook, executive director of the association.

“One nation means one language, and I am insulted by the division caused by language,” Taylor wrote.

It is standard, however, to send correspondence regarding a binational event in two languages, the New York Times reported.

The U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association is, according to its website (which can be read in English or Spanish), “a leading authority on border issues.” Further, the association pledges to “speak with a unified voice as we make recommendations to our State Legislatures and U.S. Congress that will help the Mexico and United States border region grow and prosper economically.”

Cook stated that he was caught off guard by Taylor’s response, but he “didn’t want to pick a fight.” In his response to Taylor, Cook said, “The purpose of the Border Mayors Association is to speak with one voice in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City about issues that impact our communities, not to speak in one language. My humble apologies if I ruffled your feathers.”

Despite Cook’s apology, however, Taylor continued attacking the “Mexican” invitation.

“America is going ‘Down Hill’ fast because we spend more time catering to others that are concerned with their own self interests. It is far past time to remember that we should be ‘America First’ … there is NOTHING wrong with that. My feathers are ruffled anytime I see anything American putting other countries First. If I was receiving correspondence from Mexican interests, I would expect to see them listed First. Likewise, when I see things produced from America, I EXPECT to see America First.”

The “save the date” invitation and Cook’s email were both in English first and then translated into Spanish, the El Paso Times reported. The draft agenda was in Spanish first and then translated into English.

Cook removed Taylor from the group’s email list.

“I am sorry that you don’t understand the importance of a bi-national association that addresses the opportunities and challenges facing both the US and Mexico in a global economy,” Cook wrote to Taylor. “I am a volunteer with the BMA and at the risk of repeating myself will tell you the Association is about speaking with a unified voice in Washington and Mexico City.”

But this was not enough for Taylor.

“And I am sorry you don’t properly comprehend ‘America First’ … and that a ‘Global Economy’ is pointless. Giving away our sovereignty to benefit others is NOT a way to strengthen our Nation and OUR homes, it is an idea that is provably doomed to failure for the common man,” he said in an email to Cook. “If Mexico is NOT stopping drugs, crime, and terrorists from coming INTO our country from Mexico, then Mexico is not a friend and I don’t care to help. I have better things to do in fighting the problems they export to us.”

Huachuca City is 29 percent Latino; nearly the entire Latino population is of Mexican descent. The city had been involved with the organization since before Taylor became mayor, according to Cook.

“This particular mayor wasn’t in office when we started this organization many, many years ago,” he said.

Anti-Latino Rhetoric Nationwide 

In an interview with the El Paso Times, Cook pointed out that Taylor’s response illustrates a larger, nationwide problem.

“I was really taken back because the invitation is pretty straightforward that it is an international organization consisting of both sides of the border,” he said. “It was very disappointing that he evidently didn’t read far into it and was insulted that we were also communicating in Spanish. The more I think about it, this is probably a big sentiment in parts of Arizona where people do not like people to speak Spanish in this country.”

Indeed, the incident involving Taylor illustrates the widespread effects of negative rhetoric regarding immigrants and Latinos throughout the presidential election. Trump opened the door for such remarks the day he launched his campaign, calling the U.S. a “dumping ground” for Mexico’s worst people. He described Mexican immigrants as rapists, saying they are bringing crime and drugs to America. Taylor’s assertion that Mexico is allowing crime, drugs and terrorists into the U.S. echoes Trump’s sentiments.

Trump also used his campaign announcement speech to introduce his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The wall has become a focal point of Trump’s campaign, with supporters frequently chanting “build that wall” at rallies.

Taylor’s use of “America First” also brings to mind themes from the Republican National Convention in July. One theme of the day was, “Make America First Again,” following the pattern of Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” — which many people interpret as “Make America White Again.”

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18 comments


  • WOW. I am really ruffled by Taylor’s single-minded rebuke. I firmly believe that he should be removed from office. Huachuca City IS a border town, and as Mayor, Taylor DOES need to be involved with the issues of Mexico. I was born and raised in Arizona and this kind of unintelligent response saddens me.

    • Huachuca is an Apache word that translates to “thunder mountain”. It’s adjacent to Fort Huachuca, 15 miles from our neighbors in Mexico. Fort Huachuca is known as the home of the Buffalo Soldiers.

      You would think with all that diversity in its history, geography and population that the mayor wouldn’t be such an obtuse jerk.

      • Charity Dell

        SHERI–Maybe you can send the Miserable Monolingual Mayor this MEMO–

        NEWSFLASH for Mayor Taylor–Spanish IS the SECOND LANGUAGE OF THE UNITED STATES, being spoken by over 50 million people, including the huge Latino populations of California, Colorado, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and–SURPRISE!–Arizona.
        Spanish is the CO-OFFICIAL LANGUAGE of New Mexico.

        2. The French, Portuguese and Spanish languages arrived in North America in the 1500’s, long before the English colonizers showed up. In historical terms, English is the “new kid on the block” in North America.

        3. There were over 500 indigenous nations and languages spoken in the North American continent prior to the arrival of the Vikings and Celts in the medieval
        period.

        4. The United States is currently home to over 430 languages. Many of our larger cities and metropolitan areas (such as San Francisco) typically publish their laws/regulations/publications in multiple languages. Other municipalities, such as
        Newark NJ, have a Google translation feature on the official government websites.
        Newark’s Google link enables you to read the official website in the ELEVEN languages spoken in Newark.

        5. The University of Arizona at Tuscon has a HUGE Department of Spanish and
        Portuguese: http://spanish.arizona.edu. Spanish is the most studied language in
        American public school systems, and in colleges/universities.

        6. Mayor Taylor should register for Spanish classes at any of the campuses of
        Cochise College. He can study at least three years of Spanish at the college. Mayor Taylor can also study Spanish for FREE online in YouTube videos, and in all the websites grouped here:

        http://www.uni.edu/becker/Spanish3.html

        Then he, too, can read, write and speak “Mexican” (sic.)in addition
        to the English printed on those invitations that got him so upset. :-)

        7. Maybe His Honor hasn’t figured out that many commercially packaged products– everything from food products to cosmetics/beauty supplies and laundry stuff– in American stores have multilingual labeling and information, in French, Spanish and
        Portuguese in addition to English. International marketing folks figured this out long ago–if you label your products in SEVERAL languages, you can actually SELL MORE PRODUCTS TO MORE PEOPLE. Imagine that! Multiple language use
        is GOOD FOR BUSINESS IN ANY STATE. WOW!

        Y’all make sure Hizzoner gets this MEMO! :-)

      • Charity Dell

        LUKE–Those who suffer with Monolingual Megalomania typically have Irrationality Attacks whenever they here or see any other language being spoken or printed in these here United States of Amerrika! One time I was speaking with a shopkeeper
        of a little Judaica store in New Jersey who told me she knew that she heard some ladies in a beauty parlor speaking Spanish, and she KNEW she’d heard these ladies speaking English before, so why were they “still speaking Spanish?”

        I reminded her that they were just doing what many people do in Crown Heights in Brooklyn who are native Yiddish speakers. If you stroll there just before the holiday of Sukkot (biblical Feast of Tabernacles)–in which you instantly feel you are transported back to the stetls of Eastern Europe–you will hear Yiddish in addition to the Hebrew of Israeli street vendors of the open air market. The shopkeeper looked a little startled when I pointed that out to her, which meant she had forgotten that
        her own husband spoke the Yiddish of the vendors who supplied fresh Sukkot products to his little shop there in Maplewood, New Jersey.

        This is half the FUN of our country–we can stroll through various ethnic neighborhoods in our cities and towns and sample the foods, hear the languages
        and enjoy the different cultures that still thrive alongside our own particular
        ethnic group! The languages–spoken, sung and written–are part of the mosaic
        of our American communities and American English has borrowed extensively
        from many of these languages.

        The Mayor needs to get with the reality of 2016–Spanish is but one of the 430
        languages spoken here in the United States, and it is also one of the languages
        that forms a large part of the English lexicon. Spanish is easily learned by English speakers, so maybe Hizzoner should learn the other language of Huachuca City.

    • Charity Dell

      LARISSA–Someone should sign him up for SPANISH classes at Cochise College in nearby Douglas or Sierra Vista and maybe give him a TEXTBOOK about the history of Arizona.
      Spanish is the second language of the Los Estados Unidos and since it is spoken by
      over 50 million people–including millions of Arizona citizens!–the Mayor ought to educate
      himself and go to the meeting with all the OTHER INFORMED MAYORS OF THE
      BORDER STATES OF BOTH NATIONS.

  • I have lived in Arizona my entire life (Tucson.) This mayor is an embarrassment to our state. For years our correspondence from various entities within and without our cities are written in English and Spanish. This is NOT a major issue, it is NOT unusual. I drive to Huachuca City and Sierra Vista a few times a year and you cannot return to the interstate without being stopped at a border check station. Why? Because Huachuca City is a border town. If Mayor Taylor is upset and refusing to attend a function that is to help with issues that impact his city simply because the invitation was written in English and Spanish, he is really out of touch.

    • Charity Dell

      JANET–Send your mayor this EXCELLENT book:

      SPANISH FOR GRINGOS. Third Edition. Level 1 with CDs.
      William Harvey. Barron’s, 2008.

      Level 2 is also available with CD’s. We could not keep these books in our library
      and had to continually re-order them….your Mayor is Linguistically Challenged
      and needs help to expand his monolingual horizons.

      Unfortunately, the United States is home to the hordes of ignorant Monolingual
      Maniacs who inhabit public offices and school boards and worship at the
      Sacrosanct Shrine of English. Many of these Adepts of Ignorance do not have
      a good command of the English language and typically need extensive instruction
      in basic grammar, syntax and pronunciation!

  • Mexicans, Canadians, Greenlanders and Chileans are all Americans, being residents of North and South American continents. Maybe he should say North Americans… wait that still includes Canada, Greenland, United States and Mexico. Maybe he should just say “the stupid folks that only know one language and think the world revolves around them” as to who is insulted when a letter comes with both languages of the target audience. !Muy estupido! I hope his electorate votes him out for being so petty and racist.

    • Charity Dell

      CARLOS–El alcalde no saber nada–he should have read my SIXTH-GRADE social studies textbook entitled OUR SOUTHERN NEIGHBORS. We studied this back in 1966 when I was in sixth grade, and I remember singing “Cielito Lindo” and loving the melody. (At that time our elementary schools did not offer Spanish–we could only study it in high school. I decided to study Spanish when I became a reference librarian in Plainfield,
      New Jersey years later.)

      El alcalde needs to get a CLUE and aprender espanol…especially in a border state!
      It is appalling that nosotros estadounidenses are often raised to be linguistically IGNORANT, when the REST of the world attempts to educate their young in the multiple languages spoken in their countries. American linguistic ignorance can plummet to incredible depths–let me provide a few examples I have personally witnessed:

      1. The city council of the town of BOGOTA, New Jersey, passed an ordinance that only
      English could be spoken in the town! This is especially DUMB, since the town’s name
      is SPANISH. Of course, the state court struck down the ordinance as unconstitutional.

      2. Then there’s the library patron who asked me for books to learn Spanish. I was happy to point out our collection and asked her did she need it for a trip, or did she want to
      learn it to speak with neighbors, etc. She informed me that she was learning Spanish
      “So I know what they’re saying about me at the mall.”

      Aaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy vecino…you can’t make this stuff up! Verdad?

      3. Oh yes, the head of circulation* was upset whenever I spoke Spanish with our patrons.
      She constantly complained that the” Hispanics who come here don’t learn English.” I
      informed her that we had a waiting list of 700 people who wanted to learn English downstairs in our literacy program office. I ALSO reminded her that millions of Africans
      here in the New World speak SPANISH and that Black Spaniards often accompanied
      the conquistadores here to the Nuevo Mundo. She did not know that La Guinea Ecuatorial is an hispanohablante nation on the continent of AFRICA and Spanish is the official language of that nation.

      *Somos African-Americanas.

      I took special delight in tormenting her by speaking Spanish daily with all my hispanohablante patrons, especially since I was the only librarian who could translate
      at the reference desk…I continually attempted to mejorar mi idioma, trying desperately
      to cultivate a more ritmo nativo so that I would not sound “como la gringa” (like Lois
      on “King of the Hill”). I understand my Spanish has a Nuyorican accent…although I do
      pronounce the letter “s”…so I guess I sound semi-Boricua…:-)

      Aaaaayyyy mi vecino…..You can’t make this stuff up! Verdad? :-)

  • It’s the trump effect. It makes ignorant people say trump-like comments.

    • LINDA N.–Yes…Trump supporters are not known for their intellectual brilliance.

      IGNORANCE IS A CONTAGIOUS DISEASE: RUN THE OTHER WAY! :-)

  • Mr. Taylor, since when is Mexican a language? You live amongst the culture. Study it, learn it.

    • DOUG–Mister Monolingual Mayor apparently never studied social studies well; because, had he opened an elementary textbook, he would have figured out SPANISH is the name of a LANGUAGE, and “MEXICAN” is a descriptive ADJECTIVE referring to the peoples, cultures,
      customs and history of the nation of MEXICO.

      Somebody failed their social studies classes in elementary school….

  • I’ve thought about the term American as used to describe the citizens of the United States of America, and have come to the conclusion that it is not incorrect or abusive to people from areas such as Canada or Chile. Around the world the term American is recognized as indicating someone from the U.S.A. America is, if you will, an abbreviation of the United States of America. We could have called ourselves United States of Americans, but that really is a mouthful; we could have called ourselves United Statesians, but that’s not the direction that the abbreviation took. American is the term that was developed over time for referencing people of this country. I cannot find an insult to others in the term American. It causes no confusion, as the north and south continents in this hemisphere are called North and South America respectively and The Americas collectively. I’m sure a Canadian feels they are Canadian, a citizen of Canada, a country in North America and a Chilean feels they are Chilean, a citizen of Chile, a country in South America. I consider myself an American, a citizen of the United States of America, a country in North America. Canadians and Chileans, please correct me if I’m wrong — you don’t identify yourselves as American, do you? I’m fairly certain you identify yourselves North American or South American, those being the continents in which your countries are found. This is, of course, off the topic of misguided mayor Ken Taylor, but I’ve heard the term American disparaged before as inappropriate for referencing Americans, and wished to share my thoughts.

  • Not really on topic but sort of….i need advice quickly. I just bought a house and went through my final walk through. While i was there, I noticed my neighbor has over 7 Trump signs on his property. I am a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton and can’t wait to see her get elected. I am new to this neighborhood….I have no problem putting up HRC signs. But coworkers have suggested I do not put signs up. I love the USA. I think this country is the best place to live because I believe in the constitution. But isn’t that the beauty of it? they can have their opinion and I can have mine – even next door to each other. What would you do in my situation?

    • I would avoid lawn signs for either candidate. trump has emboldened white supremacists and neo Nazis. If you want to see Hillary elected, you’re better off applying your money and volunteer time to driving out the vote.

      She can win because there are more of us than there are of them, but she will only win if we help, because she’s the weakest democratic candidate since Humphrey (and Humphrey would clean her clock) and nobody I know is excited to vote for her. trump’s support is among scared white people, he will spend the next 80 days blowing the dog whistle.

    • I wouldn’t put up signs in the new neighborhood. Our politics is very divisive and could affect neighborly affairs unnecessarily .

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