September 23, 2007

The Red Herring

All the recent talk of a National Language is not the real point at all, of course. It’s just another way to disenfranchise immigrants [in this case the Mexicans who have the double whammy of being both immigrants AND not of Northern European stock.]

Can you tell the difference, today, between the descendants of Irish immigrants who came over during the early 19th century and those who arrived after WWII? Me neither. It’s likely that Irish was spoken in the homes of both families. It’s likely that the parents in both cases resisted learning English. [If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, I imagine you can sympathize—it’s hard, slogging work that consists, basically, of rote memorization.]
Their children, however, if they got here before the age of ten or so, learned English fairly easily. They were immersed in the language at school, they were teased by their peers for not speaking ‘correctly’ and probably grew up without even a trace of an accent. At home, they translated any government forms or other necessary paperwork for their parents and their families got along just fine, thankyouverymuch. Yes, the family probably remained below the poverty level until the 2nd generation grew up. By then, they had the advantage of having been educated here and of having thoroughly assimilated.

This language issue has come up before. I remember similar rhetoric after the Viet Nam war when lots of folks from Asia were arriving. Then, there was a triple whammy to contend with: the Asian’s didn’t look like us, the parents didn’t speak English and their kids had begun growing up in a culture that taught respect for education. The Europeans in this country were living in terror that the Asians would beat us at our own game: get good grades in high school, crowd out our kids in the best colleges and out-perform us in the workplace. THEN what would happen to America???
Surprise—we weathered the storm, absorbed the Asians and America is stronger for their having arrived on our shores. And, many of the parents who arrived in the 1970’s still speak halting English and need help from their kids when it comes time to sign important documents.
And-- look around --does this country look like Asia to you?

So, those of us whose parents arrived from England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark et al can relax. We’re still the majority in this country and will be for a while yet. There’s no need to try to make it harder for future immigrants. No one did that [though some did try] when our parents arrived.

And if, by chance, the complexion of America DOES change—well—who’s to say that’s necessarily a Bad Thing?

9 comments:

Sheri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Rouse said...

Amen!

two crows said...

hi, Robert.
it's so sad to see people use words like 'immigration' and 'language' to legitimize prejudice and discrimination while denying that's what they're doing.
and they dupe people.
I have a close friend who got taken-- she would never discriminate but she was in the 'English as the official language' camp. after I explained what I believe it's being used for, she seems to be rethinking her previous position.

Mary Ellen said...

two crows-

a couple of months ago, my cousin e-mailed be some stuff about English as the official language in the US and all that...the material seemed so racist. I didn't reply, being that he's family and much older than I am. I thought that was the best way to handle it. I know that no matter what I say, it won't change his mind.

two crows said...

hi, M E--
yes, sometimes the only way to handle it is to sidestep it.
it's so sad to see people who would never knowingly discriminate do so under this banner -- I really think that sometimes they simply don't consider the implications of what they're espousing.

proudprogressive said...

What a great blog, just blog rolled you two crows. Good blogging , wonderful thinking and fun graphics. Its always nice to discover gold in dem dar hills of cyberspace.

Keep it up gal !

fondly - PP

PoliShifter said...

At least during Vietnam we took in refugees.

Bush refuses to allow Iraqis into the country except for a few thousand so far. There are millions of Iraqi refugees.

My only guess as to why is that Bush the Republicans have whipped up such hate against Muslims and "brown people" that Iraqis moving in next door to Americans may trigger an overload of reported terrorist sightings at the FBI.

Not sure if that's even the reason. People were suspicious at first of Vietmanese moving into our neighborhood when I was a kid until it was explained they were from South Vietnam and were refugees.

Thos of you that remember, America was told if we didn't fight them (the Vietmanese) over there,we'd be fighting them on the shores of San Diego. They did come to the shores of San Diego, but we didn't fight them. We welcomed them.

Allowing Iraqis to enter the U.S. would hamper the Administration's Muslim two-step - That Iraqis are our friends, except for the terorists, we need to kill all them radical muslims, but not the Iraqis, just the insurgents who are Iraqis, no wait, they are Al Qaeda in Iraq, and all the foreign Jihadis, oh wait, they are fromm Saudi Arabia...don't mention Saudi Arabia...

On the one hand the extreme right egged on by BushCo wants to kill all the Muslims. On the other hand, Condi Rice trumpets an upcoming peace conference and proclaims to want to work with Muslim nations...which is it?

two crows said...

hey, Poli --
yep, you summed up the crazy-making messages in a nutshell [and I use the term advisedly].

immediately after 9/11, Bush urged people not to take out their rage on their Muslim neighbors. he hasn't uttered a sane word since then [remember how we were supposed to oppose the terrorists by going shopping, forgoshsakes?]

but, since that time he has [as your post today pointed out] returned to the position with which he is comfortable -- hatred of anyone who's not exactly like him.

two crows said...

hey, proudprogressive and welcome--
sorry I missed you till now.

I've been away from my blog for a couple of days [my back hurts and sitting in front of the puter takes its toll. don't get old -- it ain't worth it! :) ]

thanx for the kind words and the link.