On The Big Story, a full-screen graphic appeared showing a picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the phrases "THE WAR ON ENGLISH!" "Just 'Say No' to America's Language" and "Why?" Throughout most of the segment, a graphic appeared in the lower right corner of the screen showing an image of Pelosi's face alternating with the phrase "SPEAK SPANISH."
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On the November 19 edition of The Big Story, co-host John Gibson stated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is "trying to force The Salvation Army to hire people who don't speak English." Gibson was referring to Pelosi's reported pledge not to enact a provision that would prevent the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from pursuing a national-origin discrimination lawsuit against The Salvation Army for allegedly firing two Spanish-speaking workers after the organization began enforcing an English-language policy. During the ensuing segment, which featured an interview with Republican presidential candidate Rep. Tom Tancredo (CO) by co-host Heather Nauert, a full-screen graphic appeared, showing a picture of Nancy Pelosi and the phrases "THE WAR ON ENGLISH!" "Just 'Say No' to America's Language" and "Why?"
Additionally, throughout most of the segment, a graphic appeared in the lower right corner of the screen showing an image of Pelosi's face alternating with the phrase "SPEAK SPANISH."
Nauert and Tancredo discussed an amendment by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) included in the version of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill passed by the Senate. The amendment states: "None of the funds made available in this Act shall be used to initiate or participate in a civil action by or on the behalf of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against an entity on the grounds that the entity requires an employee to speak English while engaged in work." According to an Associated Press article, "The EEOC has come under assault from lawmakers such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) after the agency filed suit earlier this year against a Salvation Army thrift store in Massachusetts that had fired two employees for speaking Spanish while sorting clothes." From the article:
Alexander successfully attached the English-in-the-workplace provision to the EEOC budget bill on an Appropriations Committee vote in June with the support of three Democrats -- including powerful panel Chairman Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia.
In the House, [Rep. Charlie] Gonzalez [D-TX] and other Latino members narrowly won a vote in July to reject a move to prevent the EEOC from pursuing English-only discrimination cases. But the result was reversed last week on a nonbinding 218-186 vote urging negotiators on the underlying budget bill to accept Alexander's language.
Outraged Latinos said Democratic leaders didn't adequately prepare members for the vote and they got a promise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) that Alexander's English-only provision would be killed.
As Media Matters for America has noted, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended in 1991, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of national origin -- the provision of law on which the EEOC suit is based -- specifically includes an exception for "those certain instances where ... national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise." And indeed, the lawsuit specifically alleged that the ability to speak English "was unrelated to the job they had been performing since 1999."
From the November 19 edition of The Big Story with John Gibson & Heather Nauert:
GIBSON: New tonight, another big outrage, this one ignited by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. What did the San Francisco Democrat do now? She's trying to force The Salvation Army to hire people who don't speak English. Huh? Yo no comprende.
NAUERT: Pelosi has moved to kill an amendment that would protect employers from getting sued for requiring that their workers speak English. The Salvation Army is one of those employers targeted in such a lawsuit. Why doesn't the speaker of the United States think that workers in this country should all speak English?
Here now to talk about this is Republican Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo. He's a former chair of the Immigration Reform Caucus. OK, so, seems here that we have a war on English. "Just say no to America's language." Why?
TANCREDO: Well, because, first of all, we are becoming a bilingual country. It's unfortunate, but it is true. It's happening everywhere. I was -- as you know, I spend a lot of time in Iowa, and believe it or not, the -- in Ottumwa, Iowa -- this is the heartland -- the newspaper, the regular newspaper for Ottumwa, Iowa, is a bilingual newspaper. You could go on and on, of course, with cities along the south-- the border in Texas, which I happen -- where I happen to be right now, that have changed to Spanish as the official language.
NAUERT: OK, but --
TANCREDO: Bilingualism for individuals is one thing --
NAUERT: -- one sec.
TANCREDO: -- for countries, it's lousy.
NAUERT: OK, so if an employer has a company where employees are required to interface with customers and it's primarily an English-language-speaking area, should an employer not have the right to require that its employees speak English?
TANCREDO: Of course they should, and of course that's exactly what -- I mean, it's almost bizarre that we have to have something like this at the congressional level and that has to be an amendment, and it's not bizarre or it's not strange that Nancy Pelosi would kill it. But you know what? The Democrats are in this horrendous bind right now. It's fascinating to watch. It's great to see from my side, because they see the immigration issue kind of welling up to the top and becoming a very hot topic for them, and yet they've got to satisfy a significant portion of their base. And they're trying to walk this tightrope. In this case, she's trying to satisfy that part of the base which is, of course, pro-illegal immigration and pro-bilingualization of the country.
GIBSON: But Tom --
TANCREDO: She's trying to do it, and it's unfortunate.
GIBSON: But Tom, bilingualism means you can speak two. What this deal is, is saying you can get away with a job speaking only one language, and that language is not English. I mean, I think The Salvation Army wanted them to be bilingual, gave them a year to learn English.
TANCREDO: I remember.
GIBSON: And still, it's -- this is a Spanish-only question.
TANCREDO: That's true. You're absolutely right. And there is no defense for it. I mean, certainly, I can come up with absolutely none, except to say that this is an attempt to satisfy that particular wing of their party. And, you know, they're -- look, they've got a Democrat freshman that's going to introduce a bill soon. It's a tough, enforcement-only piece of legislation, and they're trying to do that to balance it off the other way because they're in, as I say, a quandary. But this whole thing, this idea of a country that's -- where two languages are spoken. Well, what I mean to say is some part of the country speaks one language --
TANCREDO: -- some part of the country speaks the other. That's what I mean by a bilingual country. Not a country where everybody speaks two languages. And that is what has happened to us.
GIBSON: You mean bifurcated-language country?
TANCREDO: Bifurcated, that's a better way to put it.
GIBSON: Tom Tancredo.
TANCREDO: That's a better way to put it. But it's really a very, very serious problem for a nation. We better start to deal with this, or we won't have a nation to talk about it.
GIBSON: Tom Tancredo, Colorado congressman. Tom, thanks very much. Good to see you.