Recently, Paul Crespo threw his name in the hat for the FL District 25 Congressional seat vacated by Mario Diaz-Balart’s move to the neighboring District 21 race. Although not a politician, Crespo is well known in South Florida political circles as a former Miami Herald editorial columnist and radio commentator. He’s also appeared regularly on several Spanish-language current events programs such as Maria Elvira Live (who can forget his debate there with castro apologist Edmundo Garcia?) and A Mano Limpia.
His credentials and background are impressive. One article which appears on Crespo’s campaign home page which really impressed me was an interview which appeared in American Spectator in 2008 titled Immigrants into Patriots which highlighted his views on immigration, assimilation and appreciation for America. Crespo didn’t miss a single note. Here’s a small sampling:
You believe there is a distinction to be made between “assimilation” and “integration.”
PC: Well, I think there may be a difference between what many see, rightly or wrongly, as the old, traditional concept of assimilation where you become totally absorbed by Anglo-American culture and lose any distinctiveness you may have and the idea that I grew up with, which is that you can be a patriotic, fully integrated American but also speak Spanish and be proud of your family origins and heritage, too. We’re not living in the 19th century. The fact is that today’s immigrants maintain connections with their countries of origin in ways not possible just 30 years ago. It’s unrealistic to demand immigrants totally cut themselves off. But let’s be clear: That’s still very different from today’s ideas of “diversity” and “multiculturalism,” which I really dislike because they generally ignore or discount the need to become fully American; that view of “diversity” is divisive and, in my view, un-American. Studying in the UK reinforced for me how important America’s Anglo heritage and culture is to who we are as a nation. Everyone, including Hispanics, needs to understand that.
Do you think the sort of scapegoating we’ve seen during recent debates on immigration and trade have made integration that much more difficult?
PC: Absolutely. The increasingly shrill tone on all sides of the debate has hurt everyone. Illegal immigration is a huge problem. But it needs to be separated from the bigger issues of assimilation and legal immigration, which is what we are focusing on. The illegal immigration activists lump legal and illegal immigrants together so they can claim that anyone who wants to control the borders is “anti-immigrant,” which is total nonsense. But many on the other side are doing the same thing by lumping legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants together, and bashing them all. That has been turning off many Hispanics, including conservative, patriotic ones. When being anti-illegal immigration turns into, or seems to turn into, being anti-Hispanic it makes it harder to promote integration and assimilation. It’s harder to be a patriotic American if you’re being told you’re not wanted.
You just don’t hear too many Hispanics articulate these issues as clearly and as dead-on as Crespo did in the article. I strongly recommend you read the entire interview here.
I’m not ready to declare my support for Crespo in the FL-25 race. The Republican primary race is a crowded one, with state legislator and Miami-Dade County GOP Chairman David Rivera among those running. Nevertheless, Crespo appears to be in the mold of the “Reagan Conservative” and if he can articulate his views on other key issues as well as he did in that American Spectator piece back in 2008, he will likely have my support.
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