Pas Devant Les Enfants, Tampa: Puerto Rico Out Of U.S.?

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AUGUST 29, 2012

Pas Devant Les Enfants, Tampa: Puerto Rico Out Of U.S.?

“We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Ricoto to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.”

—GOP platform, "Honoring And Supporting Americans In The Territories.”

Jack Hitt writes on the Harper’s Web site about a disturbing “unscripted moment” yesterday when Zoraida Fonalledas of Puerto Rico, chair of the Committee on Permanent Organization, rose to Tampa’s main-stage podium.

As she began speaking in her accented English, some in the crowd started shouting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

The chanting carried on for nearly a minute while most of the other delegates and the media stood by in stunned silence. The Puerto Rican correspondent turned to me and asked, “Is this happening?” I said I honestly didn’t know what was happening—it was astonishing to see all the brittle work of narrative construction that is a modern political convention suddenly crack before our eyes. None of us could quite believe what we were seeing: A sea of twentysomething bowties and cowboy hats morphing into frat bros apparently shrieking over (or at) a Latina. RNC chairman Reince Priebus quickly stepped up and asked for order and respect for the speaker, suggesting that, yeah, what we had just seen might well have been an ugly outburst of nativism.

Buzzfeed’s Zeke Miller suggests it wasn’t Latino-baiting, but rather a protest against some procedural disrespect toward primary candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R.-TX, who hasn’t (and probably won’t) endorse Mitt Romney. (Indeed, he’s not even sure he’ll vote for the guy.) That would make it a different sort of pas devant les enfants moment. (Update, 5:45 p.m.: the Washington Examiner's Timothy P. Carney says it wasn't the Paulheads chanting "USA," but Romney supporters trying to shout down the Paulheads. Whatever.) You be the judge:

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posted in: timothy noah, politics, tampa, puerto rico, united states, congress, republican party, republican party, jack hitt, zoraida fonalledas, u.s., the plank

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