Monday, September 12, 2005

Diversity in Kansas

One wedge issue employed by members of the right wing to split our country apart is the issue of non-English speakers in the United States. For example, some are excited by mandatory English language classes as an additional hurdle to citizenship.

Their motives are transparent, but ought to be stated clearly. Some don't like hearing Spanish spoken in the streets. Some are annoyed by brown people talking "gibberish" around them. Many resent having to press "one" to proceed in English when they're in an automated phone system. They talk about "preserving the core of American identity", which, I suppose, has something to do with monoculturalism.

One of the many problems with their arguments is the fact that their view of America is based on watching too much "Leave it to Beaver", and not enough reading of history. This morning's Kansas City Star has an interesting article about "low German" in Northeast Kansas - a language that thrived in an immigrant population, and is still spoken by many. For years, the language dominated the region. Young people are now taking classes to recapture this bit of their heritage.

Somehow, bilingualism seems a lot more palatable when they're not speaking Spanish, doesn't it?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

Well, that mangaged to ascribe false motives to me -- and you didn't even bother to trackback!

You say it is because I don't like hearing Spanish on the street -- wrong, because while I hardly qualify as bilingual I made a point of traveling to mexico to work on improving my language skills.

I've got no problem with "brown peole" (teaching, as I do, in a school that is nearly 50% Hispanic and around 35% African-American) -- regardless of their language.

And since you quote me and assert that I support monoculturalism, please not that I explicitly support cultural diversity. I do, however, recognize that multi-lingual societies (when the language is tied to separate ethnic identities) tends to lead to conflicts such as those that exist in Canada -- or the Balkans.

I won't dignify the phone comment with a reply.

No, I simply recognize, as does anyone with common sense, that learning the English language is crucial to full participation in the cultural, social, economic, and political life of the United States. That isn't a hard concept to grasp for most people.

However, if you want to ensure the existance of a permanent underclass, or the fracturing of American society along linguistic lines, stick with your position.

I am curious, though -- did you recently inherit a stawman factory?

9/12/2005 5:16 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

RWR - I'll trackback to your heart's content if you teach me how!

I think you are reading more into what I wrote than you should. I do not believe that you hold all those beliefs - I cited you as an example of a right winger excited about the Swiss language test, and that's all. In all seriousness, I would not level the charge of racism at you specifically. I have no reason to do so. I think many of your cohorts, however, are acting from racist motives.

Yes, you most certainly did praise multiculturalism, and even took issue with the melting pot metaphor, and I believe you.

We've had a discussion on your blog, and I think we reached a point of agreeing to disagree. I think an insistence on English literacy is wrong-headed, punitive to first-generation immigrants and based on false history. You believe it is a wise idea to assure full participation in American culture (a mixed blessing indeed) and necessary to preserve the core of American identity (whatever that is).

I can see how you thought I was singling you out and burdening you with all the negatives of everyone who agrees with you. I didn't mean to do so. I used you as an example of a blogger who is excited about the english test idea. And then I went off on what is wrong with the people pushing the english-only approach to America.

9/12/2005 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

Hey -- explanation accepted. I don't doubt you in the least.

As for the trackback thing, i forgot you are a blogger baby. We need to get you set up with haloscan commenting and trackbacking.

And i will say this explicitly -- i don't want an English-only America -- but I do want an America where everyone speaks enough English to participate.

9/12/2005 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

Hey -- explanation accepted. I don't doubt you in the least.

As for the trackback thing, i forgot you are a blogger baby. We need to get you set up with haloscan commenting and trackbacking.

And i will say this explicitly -- i don't want an English-only America -- but I do want an America where everyone speaks enough English to participate.

9/12/2005 9:32 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Blogger baby?" No - I've been at it for over 2 years now. I'm just stupid when it comes to this kind of thing. I guess all my intellect is directed at forming insightful and correct arguments! Your technical abilities explain why you take the positions you do! ;-)

9/13/2005 7:25 AM  

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