Thursday, April 29, 2010

Speak American!

Have you ever heard someone say, "I wish people spoke American," and you wanted to say, "You mean, English?"

American and English go hand-in-hand to some people.

It's a feeling you might get from Tim James, a man who wants to be the next governor of Alabama. His latest political ad is getting some attention--

I am ALWAYS careful when blogging about anything related to politics. I want people to know I'm interested in this topic--not the man in this ad nor his political affiliation.

My opinion? At first, the message seems a little bullyish, but I'm sure it would be a cost-effective measure. Printing out tests in a dozen or so different languages seems like it would cost taxpayers more money.

On principle alone, I think we need to remember we are a country of immigrants. Some of us have just been here longer than others. I recently visited Chinatown in San Francisco, and I thought it was so beautiful. I felt lucky to live in such a diverse country. I spent time people-watching and saw many who didn't appear to speak a lick of English. It didn't bother me. Why would it? Am I supposed to feel more entitled than someone else because I grew up speaking English?

When I visit Korea, I try to speak broken-Korean, but I don't make a big effort to learn that language. In fact, I'd prefer it if Korean people tried out their English on me. Boy, that's a big, fat, ugly American for you, isn't it? I know Korean people learn English at a young age, so I figure that's probably the way I'll communicate with Koreans. It's faster. Plus, English is everywhere in Korea--even on the road signs... and that country is super homogeneous, unlike the U.S. Can you even imagine if Americans tried to add another language to all U.S. road signs? Or the political ads that would come out in response?

Again, the argument could very well come down to money (with the above political ad.) I'm just sayin'...

1 comment:

B D said...

Ask yourself what the difference is between "English only" and "whites only."

"This is Alabama, we speak English" says the wannabe executive. He fails to mention that English only became the primary language after a bloody genocide purged the land of its previous inhabitants.

This country has never had an official language, and attempts to institute one are simply reactionary anti-immigrant measures.

In fact, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. That was a hard-won piece of legislation that applies to individual states as well, as much of the funding for roads and the like comes from federal coffers. But without the fight to back them up, reforms lose their strength and are subject to overturn and reversal (like the 8-hour day, which workers literally fought and died for, which is now being eroded).

The "cost" argument is a false one.

Alabama has already been down this road. They tried to make the driving test English only in the past. They were sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center and lost in District Court and the Court of Appeals, before finally prevailing in the Supreme Court.

Alabama will loose federal funding if they pass this backward piece of law. That will largely outweigh the few dollars they may save by printing a less paper applications (whenever they do print them, they are already well-stocked with applications in 14 languages.. again proving that this isn't really about cost savings).

I keep hearing about the need to cut costs to "save our states." Everything from public schools to hospitals to fire departments are on the chopping block.

If this bigot wants to save money for Alabama, why doesn't he call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq, Afghanistan and the dozens of other countries they are stationed in? The U.S. military budget is nearly as large as the military budgets of all other countries in the world COMBINED. Even a 5% deduction in that budget would save $664,000,000 PER STATE.

But you'll never hear that sort of thing from a politician in this country. Least of all the south where the failure to complete reconstruction has left us with the tattered remains of the Slaveocracy.

Institutionalized discrimination is often packaged and sold as a "cost saving," "economy saving," or "scientific" measure. Case in point: the Nazi party. When capitalism collapses under its own weight, its representatives hurry to find scapegoats to blame. In ruined, post-war Germany it was the Jews, Roma, labor union members and communists. In the U.S., Britain, etc. it's immigrant workers.

The rest is sure to follow.. a law in Arizona that the Gestapo could be proud of, with several more states trying to pass something similar, and a congressional candidate in Iowa calling for immigrants to be round up and implanted with microchips ("I think we should catch 'em, we should document 'em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going. I actually support micro-chipping them. I can micro-chip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I micro-chip an illegal? That's not a popular thing to say, but it's a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under."- Pat Bertroche, Republican congressional candidate for Iowa's Third District, April 28, 2010.).

Welcome to the great melting pot.