The post 9/11 hysteria is not merely an opportunity for those hating Muslims to raise fears about foreigners, it also has allowed anti-immigrant bigots to emerge from the woodwork and cast their fears on the nation. Joseph Cerao, a United States citizen of Hispanic background, went to purchase some plumbing supplies when he made the terrible mistake of speaking Spanish to a friend. The storeowner, David Richardson, was upset that someone in his store was speaking in a foreign tongue which aroused suspicion they might be some foreign spy. He demanded that the Spanish speaking person provide some proof that he belonged in America and insisted Cerao should produce his social security card. Richardson later explained that in Rhode Island anyone who speaks a foreign language must be assumed to be a potential threat to the community.
After being cited for bigotry, Mr. Richardson insisted all he wanted to do was generate a dialogue about illegal immigration and offered to donate money to charity. “I now know that it is not legal to ask anyone for their social security number.”
Would he ask someone who spoke French for a social security number?