Sunday, April 1, 2007


We all know there are Americans who are against Latinos speaking Spanish in the U.S. As a boy growing up in Brooklyn, I remember the same prejudice against people speaking Italian or "Puerto Rican." But it is the mark of the uneducated to put down someone for speaking a foreign language in public.

Now we have Newt Gingrich (in an article by Kasie Hunt of the AP as reported in the WashPo) speaking to a group of cheering Republican Women saying that there should not be bi-lingual education in the schools, and that, furthermore, the government should not print voter information in languages other than English.

Hey, I thought we wanted our kids to be educated and be bi-lingual? That's why we send them to schools that teach French, German, Spanish, et al. That's why we require them to have two or more years of a foreign language in high school. But in the world according to Gingrich and a lot of his cheering anti-Latino supporters, the school language requirement is bull, just meant for show. Education and bi-lingualism count for nothing in the "real" world outside of academia.

I congratulate the hundreds of thousands of Latinos who actually are bi-lingual, who want their kids to learn English, but who value Spanish as an equally great and important language. Too bad that so many Americans speak only English.

1 comment:

  1. Roberto:

    The insufferably pompous former Speaker of the House has always had a proclivity for bigoted provincialism. This latest drivel, I'm afraid, is yet another disturbing manifestation of his insular attitude toward foreign cultures.

    What's troubling is that this sort of thinking is gaining traction with an increasing number of equally parochial Americans who march to the ballot box to endorse hegemonic laws. Remember the spate of potentially unconstitutional English-only initiatives?

    Left unchecked, I fear, we will cultivate a generation of citizens ill-equipped to function in a progressively diverse and cosmopolitan society. Communication will deteriorate rapidly into a riotous confusion of voices clamoring for attention. Not a comforting thought – especially in a country as intimately entwined with the emerging Global Village as the United States.

    We're already paying a price.

    Consider the blundering of Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority in post-Saddam Iraq. One of its main deficiencies: only a handful of the 3,000 staffers employed there spoke Arabic; small wonder, then, that the CPA became a veritable icon of American failure in the Middle East.

    Perhaps Mr. Gingrich ought to ponder that dismal anecdote – as soon as he crawls out from underneath his rock.