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E Pluribus Duo « Back to Story
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Someone with a bit of knowledge on the
If you let enough immigrants in with an IQ
of 90, you will end up with leaders with
an IQ of 90.
An excellent and valid article. For political expediency, the Rubios are selling the country down the river.
Maybe Mexican telenovelas are just better than the Super Bowl - they are saucier and over-the-top melodramatic (Sorry Beyonce).
Oh Heather......and to think I used to like some of your columns. This is totally off the rails girl. Like totally over the moon, way into hispanophobe-dom. Politicians speak a bit of Spanish because that voting block is becoming mature. No Asian languages? Because they are expected to learn English? Silly declarative statement from somebody who obviously never worked with a single damned elected official in her life. It's because that community hasn't congealed at the voting booth yet.....and for English speakers, Spanish is WAY easier to learn and pronounce. Voila!
No deep and troubling cultural trends. Also, US born Hispanics speak English fluently at a rate of 98%, and 40% exclusively! Third generation will probably speak Spanish as well as you do Heather.....but if they are true to their heritage, they just won't hate it like you do. Oy vey! Foreign language intrusion into the US? Nothing to act like a schmuck and schvitz over. It's been happening forever. Ben Franklin worried about us anglicizing them before they germanize us. How'd the great germanization of America go? Hot dogs, large, ruddy faced Midwestern people and craft beer? Pretty tame in the scheme of things. This article is foolish. Could've been written in 1813, not 2013.
The weakest assertion she makes here is the absolute size of the foreign language speaking population doesn't matter. Of course it matters! A Spanish-speaking policeman in Los Angeles county is dealing with several million Spanish-speakers, but only maybe a few hundred Swahili-speakers. We have to be practical enough to recognize knowledge of Spanish is valuable for such an officer, and command of Swahili of almost no value, BECAUSE of the population differences.
So you picked a nit, and instead of squashing it you blew it up. Your case, whatever it might be, would have been helped by simply saying, Latin America, please, not South.
Mountain out of a molehill. Ni mas ni menos, for all those Hispanic readers.
"Mexicans account for 58 percent of the illegal population; unauthorized immigrants from the rest of South America (mostly Central America) make up another 23 percent..."
It would help our case as conservatives if we could avoid making howlers like this one when discussing immigration. (Mexico, of course, is not located in South America; nor is Central America located in, er, South America.)
Oh come on, its all too late. The time when we might have avoided the pressing problem of a huge, non-english speaking population is long gone. Talking about the symptoms is yesterdays news.
Businesses and democrats let it occur in California. California voters saw it coming, and approved aid cuts to illegals: federal courts enjoined them, and the state governors (Democrats), did not appeal. The state GOP seemed to be focused on preventing gay marriage, and way to go guys, that was a great use of time.
Now 3/4 or more of our schools in some areas are non-english speaking, need translators,and some high schools consider it racist to wear shirts that say "USA."
There will be no more measures cutting aid to illegals, assuming that even that word can be used in polite society now. Not the society that was, but what is.
A society shared with people who did not mature here, often do not cheer at the same things, and were not steeped in the ideas most of us take for granted.
But the People did not get to vote on this: it was done by legislation that never was a public issue until it made no difference.
Don't get me wrong: a good number work very hard, many are in the armed forces, and are a real plus for the US. The hard-working hispanic is not a myth, and we are on balance lucky to have them.
But absorbing another country's millions, many poor, non-english speakers, in need of aid of all kinds, is a task for any country: and a lot look to the government as their benefactor.
Years too late, Arizona tried to gain control of its own territory, but the feds ended that, and the voters seem OK with that.
So now the spanish-speaking kids who are US citizens must be educated at whatever cost: they'll be looking for work and voting in large numbers.
No time to waste. The legal kids are here in large numbers, and there is no stomach for sending people back to Mexico that sneaked into the US decades ago.
They must be given access to heavily subsidized health care, since we'll have an epidemic on our hand otherwise. And who wants to see little kids go without dental care etc? I don't.
Its too late to worry about what was: that is gone; they need to be absorbed into the mainstream as fast as we can and as effectively as we can.
There is a major difference bween the immigrants who came her at the turn of the century and the Mexicans who have come illegaly. The old immigrants came here and developed a great love of this country and wanted to assimilate. My mother told me how her parents who were born in Germany refused to let her or her siblings learn German because they wanted them to "become Americans". But the attitude of the Mexican illegals is totally opposite. In Mexican schools, students are taught that the Southwest US is rightfully theirs, that the US stole it from them. They arrive in this country feeling like they have a right to be here and that there loyalty is to Mexico, not America. The problem is not that we have so many illegals who are poorly educated and don't speak English. The problem is that they have no loyalty or affection for this country, or any respect for its laws or traditions. They will no learn English because they don't have to and don't want to. This does not bode well for the future.
This is an excellent article combining our national heritage with the unifying benefits of of an official language. No one would dream of migrating to another country without understanding the necessity of learning the language of that country in order to live and work. Having a second language is a benefit to that specific individual as well as our country, but making official documents and commentary in multiple languages is contrary to the concept of a united country. All languages outside of English have merit, so why would a county choose only one additional language rather than all, if a second language were deemed necessary. A common language unites us.
The lesson of Rome is lost on the Multiculturalists. This is not the creation of two Americas. It is the end of America.
Those who fantasize about all of us getting cheaper lawncare and supermarket tomatoes etc. have not factored in the underemployment of those who previously did both agricultural work and manual labor, nor the fact that until the early 1990's the agricultural employment was fulfilled with work visa immigrants not illegal ones, and that system was effective.
Illegal immigration is entirely a function of the expanding welfare state and its many beneficiaries among the educated elite, who are employed to administer it and thus advocate for it. Educational professionals also are primary beneficiaries -- more children and more intellectually needy children mean more schools with many more jobs for those providing expensive auxiliary services to unprepared children.
That's the big business we should be blaming.
And what we are seeing in the generation of children brought here illegally or born to illegal parents is explosions of dysfunction and dependency that their harder-working parents did not model. So the arguments about cheap labor are untrue on this count as well -- it is even newer illegal immigrants doing "the jobs Americans won't do" and amnesty and thus access to welfare will only creat the impetus for more illegal immigration to take those jobs, not less.
Sillier and sillier, R K Munro.
1. Tancredo didn't **want** to be in Congress any longer. (He'd already stayed a term, perhaps two, longer than he said he would when he ran, successfully, the first time.)
2. He ran for president as a back-bench member of the House, raising and spending about $3.5 million. Didn't win the nomination. How humiliating.
3. Entered the gubernatorial race late because the Repub who should have received the Repub nomination (and who Tancredo supported) got skunked with a plagiarism charge that wasn't really justified, so the nomination went to a fly-by-night who needed a job and was actually living off campaign contributions. Seeing that, as it stood, Hickenlooper would have no credible opposition, Tancredo jumped in as the Constitution Party candidate. Under those circumstances, as a third-party candidate in the only statewide race Tancredo has ever run, he got 36.4% of the vote. How humiliating.
He had no power to deport anyone. However, in 2002, the Denver Post ran a front-page sob story (planted by the local Mexican consulate) about 18-year-old illegal alien Jesus Apodaca whining that he couldn't attend Colorado public universities at in-state tuition rates. So Tancredo inquired of ICE whether it was going to do anything about the Apodaca family of illegal aliens -- like enforce the law -- given that their presence in Denver had been so noisily announced.
The fact remains that Tom Tancredo
1) did not run for reelection in Congress
2) ran for president (humiliating defeat)
3) ran for governor as a 3rd Party and won 36% of the vote. He was a man who loved to scan newspapers and look for valedictorians he could deport. Not much of a man; just a nativist clown and bully. Who, and the facts show that I am right, went down to a humiliating defeat at any state wide election in Colorado.
Your brief remark "No American has been forced to hire illegal labor," is a case study in missing or evading the point: Businesses that don't want to hire illegal aliens may be forced to do so because otherwise they can't compete with scofflaw businesses that already do.
Alternatively, businesses owned by such reluctant, civic-minded owners may simply fail. Example: http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070322/news_lz1e22cromer.html
As to your disagreement that illegal immigration has been rammed down our throats, recognize that those of us who pay taxes are stuck with the costs, even if we don't hire illegal aliens ourselves and, perhaps, don't benefit from the (slightly) cheaper direct prices of certain items. In other words, businesses that use illegal labor, whatever their motive, privatize savings while dumping unwanted burdens (e.g. think hypercrowded emergency rooms) on the larger society.
And the "rammed down our throats" characterization seems especially apt in recalling the volcanic outrage of citizens against the June 2007 mass-amnesty bill that wound up crashing the Senate's switchboard. If you don't consider that an attempt to ram something down our throats -- ESPECIALLY because the June attempt so closely followed a nearly identical attempt we'd just beaten back that May -- then when would you ever use the expression?
No one has rammed illegal immigration down Americans' throat.
No American has been forced to hire illegal labor.
@Keith, Feb.21--That is true of official public signs in Quebec, and the phenomenon is not recent. Businesses may put up bilingual signs only if the English wording is one-half the size of French. And this language-mania on the part of the government doesn't stop at signage. Barely a week ago a well-known Italian restaurant in Montreal (a putatively cosmopolitan city) was targeted by the language police (the Office of the French Language) for having the word "pasta" on its menu without the corresponding French word,though each dish listed under the offending word was described in French. The word "calamari" caused the language cop similar indigestion. L'affaire Pastagate received condign derision worldwide. Within twenty-four hours an official at the QOLF withdrew the summons and admitted to -- but not apologized for --the overzealousness of his Inspector Clouseau in enforcing the law.
Toady: "And despite being fluent in Spanish, I was appalled to see my voting instructions printed in both languages."
-- "Appalled" ?????
Dismayed? Overcome with horror, consternation, or fear? To grow pale as with fright?
That "appalled"? From Middle English. Really? How could they do such a thing to you?
Oh, Mr. Munro also bestowed this gem in the thread: "Remember Tom Tancredo went down to humilating defeat and his name is mud."
Rubbish. Utter rubbish. In running for president, Tancredo didn't anticipate being competitive with the big names (although he was really a more serious, grounded candidate than any others in the 2008 class, except perhaps Romney). His goal was to get immigration talked about in the campaign, and he did accomplish that to some degree.
There was no "humiliating defeat." Instead, he bowed out in December, 2007, endorsing Romney on the grounds that Romney was the likeliest to move the subject of changing immigration policies to serve the national interest.
And Tancredo didn't run for re-election to his House seat in 2008. He'd had enough of Washington after five terms where he felt like he was in the minority even when the Repubs had the House majority.
Nor is Tancredo's name "mud." If the American republic survives the current era, Tancredo will be remembered as a principled man who was out front, perhaps even premature, on an existential subject for the country. Unlike a large fraction of those who infest DC, he didn't go to Washington to burnish his resume and **be** somebody. He went there to try to accomplish goals that are critical to the national interest.
No sale, Mr. Munro.
Switzerland is a special case of multiple languages with little geographical overlap among their users. See http://www.vdare.com/print/12238
Canada has been adequately dealt with by a couple of prior commenters here. However, one thing they didn't explicitly bring up is that when a society is officially bilingual, those who aren't personally bilingual are frozen out of most public employment, even though the group of such people (e.g. all the western provinces, plus Ontario) may be paying most of the federal freight (as they are in Canada).
Then there are all the practical problems of mandatory official translation, especially liability for incompetent translation, when it comes to multilingual voting materials or the insistence that medical consumers be served in whatever language they demand. (See Clinton's Executive Order 13166.)
Plus there are electoral campaigns wherein audiences hear very different things depending upon the language they speak. Typically, it's native-speakers of the majority language who are left clueless. See http://www.vdare.com/print/21785
And really, prior commenter wrd9's point, "Unlike Canada, English has been predominate for centuries in the US. No American should be forced to feel like a stranger in their own land," stands as reason enough: What benefit is there in the cultural fracture that comes with language disunity?
Colorado Governor Richard Lamm's 21 words: "It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual."
Easy to say but historically false.
The Roman Empire endured for centuries and had over 200 years of internal peace and was essentially a bilingual empire (Latin and Greek). Switzerland is a multilingual society and is one of the most stable democracies in the world. Some Canadians may complain about their current system but no one can deny Canada is a stable and prosperous democracy. It would be as prepospterous to say it is a curse to have a pluralistic society with more than one religion or more than one race. Many have said that national unity is achieved by racial purity and religious purity but of course national unity may be achieved and maintained in other ways. Once again, I do not personally support an OFFICIALLY BILINGUAL Federal government but I believe that local communities and states should be able to decide what level of bilingualism they want at the state level or county level.
Against Richard K. Munro's ~4,000 words of solipsism (February 21, 2013 at 12:18 AM) I offer former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm's 21 words: "It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual."
And thanks to Tina Trent for eloquently explicating a bit of what Lamm was getting at.
Also, to Linnea and Toady: What evidence can you provide that most Americans ever favored illegal immigration as a route to cheap groceries?
Mass immigration, both legal and illegal, have been rammed down our throats by the post-national/post-patriotic "elites" who are having their way with our country. And it was clear early on that there was nothing really cheap about the groceries, when you paid attention to all the other consequences.
We Americans wanted the inexpensive labor, legal or otherwise. Complaining about the consequences is just hypocrisy. We can't have it both ways. This comment isn't directed at you specifically, but at Americans in general
"The challenge of educating this population is an enormous drain on the state’s coffers"
Californians wanted cheap labor and the cheap goodies and services that resulted from that labor. Now they have to make up the 'savings' in other ways. I have no sympathy for them. Nada. Ninguno.
And despite being fluent in Spanish, I was appalled to see my voting instructions printed in both languages.
Jack Moran: I don't care about "fireworks," or other things that excite from a distance. I care about the impact of illegal immigration on our country. The rose colored glasses worn by several here are obscuring reality. There are no-go zones for non-Mexicans in my Florida town and businesses where people won't wait on me, though if I did the same, I could be sued. There are gangs of illegals committing heinous crimes and drug running with impunity in this previously quiet place. Funerals are dangerous gang events after shootings. I am expected to maintain my property in ways that are not imposed on others in the name of cultural difference, and the county then sends crews out to clean up their messes while billing me. The social service, child protection, food stamp, Medicaid, Section 8, and school systems are stressed to breaking. I pay more for auto insurance because of the prevalence of uninsured drivers. Social cohesion is a thing of the past, replaced with hatred and suspicion, and it doesn't come from American citizens -- that's a liberal fantasy. We give and give: they take and take and demand more. They hate us even though they take our money; they hate us because they take our money, and stimulated lefties eager to feel the warmth of fireworks on their faces teach them to hate us even more at the schools where we pay to educate their children to hate America.
The Democrats have all their votes, and that will not change. Google "Miami Worker's Center" and you will see that we even paid to start-up this sort of vote harvesting scheme.
I have firsthand knowledge of triple-dipping medicaid scams run throughout the illegal community in West Florida, abetted shamefully by some religious institutions -- it might surprise you to discover that there are public funding lines for everything from healthcare to housing assistance that are quietly designated for illegals only (often funneled through research institutions), and fraud is predictably normative throughout them. The most common household I know of through work in social services is a legal resident -- a child or mother (unmarried or claiming to be unmarried) -- sustaining households of illegal males and females or unattached males who should not be living in that public housing. This opens the door to wrap-around social benefits, all poorly supervised and rife with fraud. The men work occasionally for cars and cash and everyone lives off us. And yes, every single time I go to the grocery store I'm driving an older, smaller and cheaper car than all the women lined up in front of me using food stamps and WIC while sporting fake fingernails that cost at least $25 and, increasingly, diddling their smartphones while the elderly American cashiers sorts out their different wads of benefits for them.
Because they're lazy and grow hostile if you ask them to do it. I've seen two incidents of dressing-down of an elderly clerk by some obese, gold-chain dripping, tattooed chick with a smartphone who was asked, politely, to sort her purchases appropriately. You should learn these things.
Rubio's an inflated underachiever whose entire national reputation is based on nothing more than his accent and skin color. Sound familiar? How shallow people are to feel pride in being excited by this. In the FL House, Rubio lied about his stance on amnesty to advance his career, accepted a sleazy no show state job (so much for fiscal responsibility and small government), and surrounded himself with people who stole, got indicted, and otherwise humiliated their Party and office. If he were not Hispanic, the boys at the Nat Review, RedState and elsewhere would not be getting stimulated by the linguistic fireworks either. They probably wouldn't know his name.
Identity politics on the Right are no less racist, intellectually degrading and and pathetic than those on the Left. My Hispanic Tea Party friends agree with me on that point, by the way.
That's reality. I wish it were not. Someday this will come to your hometown and you'll change your tune, if you still have the right to do so. But meanwhile, please think harder about what you are celebrating.
One is Spanish Speaking the other English Speaking...and neither of them reading.
I'd rather Spanish-speaking Republicans than English-speaking Democrats.
Well put, for the most part. Enjoyed the KMJ interview today also. I'm unclear, however, about the quote re: "their police". If they're taxpaying citizens,(regardless of language spoken), then those ARE their police officers. No? Perhaps a small point, but made me think for a moment.
@ Lake Worth...thank you for your kind words.
As for some others you can dismiss over 40 years of experience teaching and living amidst our immigrant population if you like. You can also dismiss knowing French or Spanish as worthless or un-American. As Larra said (I will translate for you) "it is easier to condemn things than it is to learn about them." For the record I strongly support access for an English-medium education for all students. I don't believe we should go the route of Canada (or Ireland) or even Spain where there is a huge bureaucratic waste due to legal "official" multilingualism (Basque, Catalan, Spanish). One the other hand, cultivating a deep understanding of a second language -epecially Latin or a romance language like French, Spanish or Italian has immense intellectual value by itself in addition to having social and economic utility. But to ignore or comdemn the existence of a huge Spanish-speaking population in the USA is foolish and counterproductive. But people are free to make their choices. They can choose not to learn computers, for example and they can choose not to learn useful modern languages. Chinese might be a good choice for some though those who live in the Southwest might seriously consider Spanish for the simple reason that Spanish is not going away and Puerto Rico, the Domincan Republian, Cuba and Mexico are not going to disappear anytime soon. They can choose not to be polite and diplomatic. And then they can wonder why they cannot influence people whom they have done their best to alienate and denigrate. Marco Rubio, fortunately, seems much wiser than most. Remember Tom Tancredo went down to humilating defeat and his name is mud. He is as notorious as Father Coughlin is some circles. If you have never heard of Father Coughlin I suggest you look him up sometime.
It is worth noting the numbers of Chinese learning English as it remains the language of business. Given the condition of Spain, South America and Mexico for the foreseeable future will the adoption of Spanish really pay dividends in the 21st Century?
Agree 100%. What can be done to stop this?
We are headed towards a balkanized country, like the Canadian commenter descibed so eloquently.
As one who is originally from India (the land of over 20 official languages), I have always admired the cohesion and mobility that having one language - English - has conferred on the U.S. population, economy, society.
It is too bad that the powers-that-be are too blind to the divisions that will be caused by multiple languages. And to how unfair it is to non-Hispanics.
Jack Moran: Spanglish is akin to slang, and slang is harder to understand and more insular than the school-taught language. Rather than waiting for Rubio's fireworks, I'd prefer to discredit him over his quest for race-based power.
As for the article, maybe one day someone will stop just giving their opinion but come up with some sort of action plan. That's what I do, but very, very few others do it even when they have a much larger megaphone.
What exactly does Heather MacDonald suggest that we do to prevent things getting even worse?
I'm generally a great fan, but really it's not an either/or. Spanglish is an exciting and increasingly common phenomenon.Wait until you see Marco Rubio address a young Hispanic-American audience in Spanglish. Then, you'll really see some fireworks.
Just some thoughts -
1. My word, Richard K. Munro does enjoy hearing himself talk (Especially about himself. I stopped counting occurrences of the pronoun "I" when I hit 50)>
2. Comparisons of contemporary immigration patterns to turn of the century immigration patterns are apples to oranges. The US did/does not share a common border with either Tsarist Russia or Italy.
3. People who wish to legally enforce language conformity might well consider the precedent being set. In the future, many towns and cities might be "Spanish Only."
“Governor Jerry Brown announced earlier this year a plan to redistribute state funding from middle-class schools to those with high proportions of “English learners...”
If you understand school funding in California, the overwhelmingly share of “local” property taxes that go to schools are actually part of the state funding formula and will be part of Jerry Brown's plan. Not that long ago, Jonathan Kozol wrote about the “Savage Inequalities” that existed between some urban and suburban school districts, with the later having vastly more money per pupil. Fast forward to today and “equity” is being redefined as giving much more money per pupil to students who are from poor, non-English-speaking families. This is a population that is substantially due to illegal immigration, something most citizens were opposed to, but which the elites and the government that serves them facilitated. So the government ignored what most citizens wanted and now will take their money away not only to fund the education of the children of illegal immigrants who pay little in taxes but away from the the equal funding of the education of their own kids. And the effort toward unequal funding at the state level is addition to that federal education money that that is already specifically allocated to this population.
I am Canadian - English-Canadian. You all have no idea how bad things are here in Canada when it comes to the bullying the majority (96%) English take from Quebec and our French minority. Our "have" provinces, particularly Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, have been sending hundreds of billions of dollars to an interprovincial welfare "equalization" program(Canada is a socialist country)for 50 years, receiving little or nothing in return, while Quebec and the French-language-and-culture sinkhole has been consuming and wasting it for all of these decades. Every cereal box and traffic ticket in the country must be printed in both languages simply because the navel-gazing French demand it, and our Constitution supports it. All this, despite that less than 1% (less than the number of your Spanish-only Hispanic speakers) do not speak English. The French simply demand it as a spoiled child would demand that he doesn't like the color of the bowl he is eating from, and we English do their bidding. It is a long, painful story. I can only say, please, for the good of all Americans, including the Hispanics, don't go down that road.
I have heard that Quebec law (I haven't been there for 35 years) now requires that all signage be only in French.
Is this true?
Of course it's fine for people to speak their mother tongue but only as long as it doesn't discriminate against others. However, the dark side of immigrants speaking only their language can lead to discrimination against non-Spanish speakers. This is happening in places like Miami where non-Spanish speakers can't find jobs or they get very poor service in stores. One Miami-Dade county worker, Zita Wilensky, was fired for not knowing Spanish. Unlike Canada, English has been predominate for centuries in the US. No American should be forced to feel like a stranger in their own land by immigrants who refuse to assimilate and discriminate against English-only speakers.
We have become balkanized and otherwise divided soley because those we have elected are glad handing, no character, greedy incompetents assisted by a media that consistently drives them only in one direction - against the overall good of the country.
It's too depressing to provide a lengthy response - history will not remember these people kindly or the people who voted them into office. In only two, perhaps three generations they have destroyed the greatest nation in history, so that now there is nothing worth preserving.
e: Richard K. Munro's wonderful comment
That is what deserves to be the City Journal article. Heather Mac Donald's "E Pluribus Duo" exercise at linguistic paranoia... not so much.
I believe in the importance of English and I believe it should be the official (national or Federal) language of the USA. But as I noted in my essay it is a red-herring that the 300 plus ultra minority languages in the USA will have any staying power. Spanish (like French) does have staying power because 1) it is a major language of North America 2) it is a major culture language
There are over three hundred languages spoken in the US; what would happen if the speakers of those languages demanded what Spanish-speakers demand? There are people in Chicago who have been here for 20-30 years and still speak no English. Taking a lesson from the Tower of Babel, English has to be the official language of this country. It is fast becoming the language of the global business community out of necessity; i.e., pilots have to know aviation English in order to fly internationally.
Take note, jgury: no room in a control tower for two, due, duo, or dos. And couldn't you make a simple comment without a word that says more about you than the target?
HarryKrishna, your post simply doesn't make sense. You label someone as clueless while you post a baseless comment.
La langue française est le ciment d'une large communauté d'hommes et de femmes vivant aux quatre ; “the French language is the bond of large communities of men and women who live abroad. “ This is certainly true of Spanish-speaking communities as well because as De Tocquvellie wrote “Language is a bond that unites men.” It is not the only bond, however.I read with great interest Heather Mac Donald’s E Pluribus Duo (correct Latin by the way unlike the vulgar remark made by one commentator who substituted “dos” for “duo”). She wrote:
Last week, Senator Marco Rubio gave the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech in Spanish as well as English, the first spokesman for an opposition party to do so. (In the past, the Spanish response was delivered by a specially designated speaker.) Is this a milestone worth pondering? Correct thought on both Right and Left would say: “Absolutely not; it is bigoted even to mention the growing reach of Spanish, a phenomenon which should be of no concern to anyone.”
When people speak of the growing reach of Spanish I wonder what world they are living in.
I have lived most of my life in North America (I am not Hispanic in origin but have close ties to the Hispanic community) and I have read, written, spoken and listened to Spanish every day of my life for the past forty years.
It has always been easy to “find” Spanish; I grew up reading EL Diario and Selecciones de Reader’s Digest as well as listening to the Yankees or the Dodgers in Spanish. The Dodgers have broadcast in Spanish, on a regular basis, since 1959 and for as long as I can remember the Yankees have broadcast in Spanish. Plácido Domingo was an ardent baseball fan as a boy in Mexico and listened to the Yankees and the World Series in Spanish. So boxing, baseball and soccer have been regularly broadcast in Spanish since the 1930’s to those who sought it out. Of course, I was introduced to other world languages as a youth but Spanish was the language most vital and readily available much more so than French though I heard French spoken, occasionally, in New York City and up state New York as well as Quebec, of course. Woody Allen once joked that the advantage of being bisexual was that one had twice as good as a chance for a date on a Saturday night; of such things I cannot say but I can say that speaking other languages made it easier for me to get dates and be accepted by the families of Latina women.
I never felt like an outsider in Latin families but a godson or long lost relative perhaps because as a Gael I had a strong memory to belonging –as most Latins do still- to Western Christendom. I cannot remember a time when we did not have a close emotional tie to Rome or France; after all my grandfather and uncles fought in France and Italy in two World Wars. Bonnie Prince Charlie is buried in the Vatican. I have visited the graves of their comrades and kinsmen in Allied cemeteries in Italy, France and Belgium. My father was Scottish born but baptized in Scotland by a Scottish priest educated in the Scots College in Spain. That man, Father Collins, knew Latin, Spanish and Italian. Italian and Spanish were more common languages in the Glasgow of my father’s youth than Gaelic –especially in the Roman Catholic community (Polish is more common today as well) because Glasgow was a shipping center and an international city. My grandfather’s company commander in the Great War –the valiant and great soldier Captain Donald Dick Porteous of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders grew up in Argentina and spoke fluent Spanish (as well as French). It was not unusual for Scots in the Merchant Marine or the Military to speak any number of languages such as Italian, French, Hindi or even German. So my Spanish connection goes back before we even became Americans and gives me a cosmopolitan view of Spanish as well as English. Many Scots, Irish and other English speakers traveled to Argentina and Chile in the 19th and 20th century; some settled there and others returned to the British Isles or as the case of my family immigrated to the USA via Canada, Ellis Island and Chile. Make no mistake: I am an American by choice but though I face firmly towards the future I do not forget the past, my past. I believe America is and will remain and English-speaking country but I also know and believe that Spanish is an all-American language. Spanish not only has a past in the USA but it also has a future.
I have been a teacher, principally to immigrants and English teachers. Just today I put up a new poster of a favorite quote of mine "Only the educated are free" (Epictetus). I have many multilingual posters (some bilingual and some trilingual) made by my students. The poster I put up today is in English and Arabic; later this week I expect to put up a Kurdish and English poster of the same. I have a Gaelic and English poster; I have Chinese language posters. It is true that the majority of my students are Spanish speaking but a substantial number speak any number of other languages. Today I made up a quiz for an absent student -he is a Chaldean Christian born in Mosul (Iraq). I give all my tests and quizzes in English but if the student needs help I give explanations and clarifications. This particular student had trouble with a few words such as "Jew", "Genocide" and "Holocaust" but he understood all the concepts. He recognized "Mein Kampf" (in German) as Hitler's book and he knew what Kristalnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) was. And he knew, without hesitation what the Final Solution was and he knew Hitler hated the "Yahoodies" and of course this is (more or less) the Arabic word for the Jews. I explained that "Holocaust" (a Greek word)and "Genocide (a Latin word) were more or less synonyms for "Final Solution" as was "Shoah" was Hebrew. I also explained "homicide" when he learned readily. This young man has only been studying English for a couple of years; he began in our Summer Bridge literacy program.
Many Hispanics attend this program, too. There are Hispanics who do not learn English ; they are the ones who do not attend school. Those who attend high school where I teach (in California) by definition learn to read, write and speak English. They have to as they take all their benchmarks and state tests and exit Exams in English. I, too, have read Victor Davis Hanson's works and I respect him. He tells the truth as he sees it. I suppose I am more optimistic about the American idea and America than Ms. Mac Donald or Victor Davis Hanson. But I see other trends also.
One is that many jobs are no longer being filled locally by Mexicans but by Central Americans or Indians (Sikhs). The cause is that the Mexican economy is growing faster than the American economy and something else. Birth control has become firmly established for urban Mexicans who are more than 60% of the population. So gradually the surplus rural population which has supplied so many farm workers in the past is drying up. I foresee a day in the near future when entire industries will be replaced by other ethnic groups. I see a growing number of Coptic refugees from Egypt; there is a large Coptic Church just walking distance from my house. Twenty years ago there were dozens of Copts here and they had to drive to Los Angeles for marriages or religious services. Now they employ nuns from convents in Egypt to do original artwork for their growing church and there must be hundreds of Coptic families. I have taught classes in the past which were 95% Mexican in origin. Now when I teach as class which is 50% or less Mexican (many of the other Hispanics are Central or South Americans) there is a different tone. And it goes without saying the Arabs, Copts, Chinese, Karens, Vietnamese speak to each other and to Hispanics in English. One of my friend's son married a Vietnamese-American girl; it appears their children will all be English-speaking. The ultra minorities intermarry and lose their language within one generation.
On the other hand I know Korean-Mexican, Pakistani-Mexican and Indian-Central Americans who all speak Spanish. Of course, I am very aware of how well and how fluently people speak Spanish because I have spoken Spanish most of my life.
I grew up in the greater New York area and studied Spanish for the equivalent of six years in junior high school and high school and I minored in Spanish literature at NYU. While at NYU I spoke Spanish every day; I also had the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico (which is part of the USA), Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries. The USA is and always has been part of La Hispanidad (the Spanish-speaking world). I have a copy of the 1850 California Constitution; page one is in Spanish. It is a completely bilingual document. Many of the signers of the California Constitution, De la Guerra, Vallejo, and even some of the English-speakers were former Spanish (and then Mexican citizens). Vallejo himself had been a Royal Spanish Army officer and came from a Spanish military family; I am sure he considered himself more of a Californio than a Mexican -after all he was only nominally a Mexican citizen for about 20 years and he spent his formative years as a Spanish subject.
The USA borders with Mexico, the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world; we have close ties with Puerto Rico and also the Dominican Republic and though diminished presently we have close ties to Cuba as well. This Cuban connection goes back to Jose Marti (who lived in the USA), Desi Arnaz, and Marco Rubio today. And of course Marco Rubio is not merely a Cuban-American but a Hispanic-American as he has marital ties to the Colombian community and other Hispanic communities. It is natural and good that Marco Rubio speaks Spanish. Take it from me that his Spanish is excellent and represents a person who has studied the language formally and who (probably) has traveled and lived in Spanish-speaking countries and communities.
But Marco Rubio represents a new Hispanic elite which has been almost entirely educated in the English medium and which is certainly not tongue-tied in English. I recall the Puerto Rican actor Jose Ferrer who had one of the most beautiful ENGLISH speaking voices of the actors of his generation; younger people might recall Raul Julia as well. And certainly no one could doubt his loyalty to America and his great love of America. Rubio is as patriotic and as strong a Unionist as Daniel Webster. Speaking Spanish does not necessarily mean one is monolingual or incompetent in English or politically a separatist. . But Ms. Mac Donald -whom I presume does not speak a word of language of Deidre and Dermottt and of the race and line of Mac Donald- is concerned what will happen to the USA if Spanish endures as a second language or regional language.
There are great similarities between the histories of Spanish and French in North America. They have endured when other languages have not such as German (once the most common foreign language in the USA), Italian and Irish (it is hard to believe but in the 1840's many Irish immigrants were monolingual Irish Gaelic speakers). But French in Canada has a very different history than, say German because French has always had an official or semi-official status in Canada going back to the Quebec Act and before. And yes, I am quite aware that Canada is officially bilingual in a way the USA is not. Personally, I do not favor official (Federal) bilingualism but I favor voluntary bilingualism on a community and state level based on demand and market forces. If Spanish had no utility or economic values or spiritual value or educational value then it would gradually fade and disappear. But I think the evidence is overwhelming that Spanish is the most important language in the USA after, of course, English. But English will no more disappear in America –as Henry Higgins once joked- than English will in Canada or the British Isles.
As a boy I knew many older people who spoke different languages -Italian was very common but Italian as an everyday spoken language has essentially disappeared in most major American cities. The reason for the disappearance of German, Italian, Irish are directly related to two factors: decline of immigration from the home nation and intermarriage and assimilation of the minority language group. Without a nearby hinterland Italian and other languages gradually melted away.
Now one might say that Spanish is a minority language also and that is true if one speaks of , let’s say Washington State or Virginia or even California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and New Mexico. But Spanish is not a minority language in the context of North America and the Caribbean but a language more widely spoken than German or Italian is in Europe.
Hence, Spanish, as a major world language is very competitive with English not only as an every day language but also as a culture language. Some of the greatest books in the Western tradition were written in Spanish. Similarly, French (a language also spoken by millions of American citizens) is not a minority language in Quebec and it is a major language in Europe and Africa.
Like Spanish, French is a major world language. Most of my DVD’s are in English and French (only some are dubbed in Spanish) and French books and newspapers are readily available. I am not an expert in such matters but it appears to me that while many French books are translations from Italian, German or English many more French books –as compared to Spanish books- are original works. But there is certainly a large and thriving original Spanish literature as well. I am no ardent fan of Spanish telenovelas (though I can see why many would find them more interesting than the Super Bowl).
I am old enough to remember (1966) when the biggest sports story in America was the World Series –there was no Super Bowl- but even then the World Series –as all Yankee games- was routinely broadcast in Spanish. I owe some of my own fluency in Spanish to the great Hispanic-Scottish announcer Buck Canell and others. Of course in those days if one wanted to follow the World Cup one had to follow the game in Spanish. But I was an ardent baseball fan so I thrilled to Winter League games at Bithorn Stadium in San Juan both in person and via the radio. I found speaking Spanish was a great way to get autographs from Latin greats like Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Rico Carty, Roberto Clemente and others. I also listen, today, to radio programs in Spanish via the Internet and, from time to time watch the excellent documentaries on the History Channel (in Spanish –most of these are dubbed from the original English, French or German. Though many Americans are unaware many fine documentaries available on the history channel are dubbed in American English from British versions or other foreign language versions).
There is no question Spanish is part of every day life in many communities in California. Most large Roman Catholic parishes offer at least one Spanish language Mass and they are very well attended. Two of our current priests are Hispanic and fully bilingual; our recently retired pastor was very competent in Spanish and often performed the Mass in Spanish. It is all a matter of supply –of Spanish-speakers- and demand. I know this because my wife and I regularly attend Spanish-language religious services. We enjoy the lively and distinctive musical traditions represented and as I often hear our parish priest give effective and clear sermons in English and Spanish I have to say –he is funnier in Spanish.
The youth –the educated youth- are overwhelmingly English speakers but the older working class generation remains Spanish dominant. Hence the language of the home and church remains, for many, Spanish. I cannot say what the future is for Spanish in many places in the USA but in the places where I have lived in worked and traveled (New York, Miami, San Antonio, San Diego, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Puerto Rico) Spanish has thrived. I think it clear that Spanish is not going away.
I remember, as a young U.S. Marine in the 1970’s one would never hear Spanish spoken in Northern Virginia or Washington, DC unless one were near the OAS. There was not a single Hispanic in my class at OCS and it was considered unusual –and desirable- that I was fluent in Spanish. Today, if one wishes too one could speak Spanish and worship in Spanish every day in places such as Alexandria, Manassas and even Charlottesville, Virginia. Anyone with connections to agriculture, restaurant work, hotels, gardening and construction will be aware of the large numbers of Spanish-speakers working in these occupations. Even if Spanish were forbidden as a language in American schools (something I would strongly oppose though I am a strong supporter of teaching in the English medium) Spanish would survive in North America and hence the USA due to our close proximity to Spanish-speaking homelands of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico and others.
Yet something else is happening that Ms MacDonald may not be not aware of. Many years ago French was far and away the most studied language among Spanish-speaking persons. In the 1960’s one could travel to Spain, Mexico or South America and never speak English or hear English at all quite unlike Germany or Scandinavia where English was widely spoken. This is no longer true. People in Spain and Mexico who study business or medicine MUST study English if they want to be on the top of their game. Young people in all of these areas are interested in English and English-based computers and video games. They are interested in English language films and watch and listen to them in V.O. (version original- that is in English with Spanish subtitles). So while there may be a growing Spanish presence in the continental USA it is also true that English is a growing presence in Spanish-speaking countries particularly Puerto Rico, Panama, Chile and Mexico. I believe Spanish speaking countries (such as Colombia) which ignore or neglect to develop a proficient multilingual professional class (including Portuguese as well as English) will suffer economically. Education is a vital matter for our national culture and our economy. All is not lost though I think we can do better. But we will not be for the worse if there is more Spanish in the future of the USA as long as our population is well educated and proficient in culture languages besides Spanish (such as English and French). I do not have to point out that many of our lowest achieving students are native English-speaking Americans. It is true, that on average, many Hispanics have lower educational attainments than the average English-speaking American but that is gradually changing and changing for the better. It is only a question of time and patience.
Language, as De Tocqueville famously said, “is a bond that unites men.” It is very important that the United States remain united politically and culturally. English and our love and respect for our Constitution, our Declaration and our Common Law traditions and Jury box –as well as economic and technological necessity – will ensure that we remain predominantly a united and English-speaking country. I do not have to add that the great secessionist movement in this country was entirely English-speaking. Political disunity can come in many forms and is not necessarily based on linguistic diversity as we can see in Switzerland or Canada. It is also important that the United States retain and develop close economic, cultural and political ties with all the countries of the Americas be they French-speaking, Spanish-speaking or Portuguese-speaking. Yo creo en la política del Buen Vecino: I believe in the policy of the Good Neighbor. It my fervent hope that we can remain Good Neighbors with all Latin sister states. Their history is entwined with ours. John F. Kennedy, speaking to the Canadian Parliament in 1961 spoke of the close ties of Canada and the USA but he might have spoken of Mexico or Brazil too both of whom were active Allied powers in World War II. My father, while serving in the army of General Macarthur met and spoke Spanish Mexican P-47 pilots in the Philippines; I have seen the graves of Brazilian soldiers at Anzio and Salerno. Said Kennedy : “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature s so joined together, let no man put asunder. What unites us is far greater than what divides us.” How true that statement was then and how true it is today.
What are the American languages? It could be said that every language both immigrant and indigenous is an American language just as every faith tradition on the globe is now an American faith tradition. Yes, el español es un idioma americanísmo, sí, Spanish is an All-American language but so is Brazilian Portuguese and Canadian French if we speak in the broader context of the Americas and not just America (the USA). I cannot imagine the USA without the Star-Spangled Banner (is it not our great national poem? It links us all to the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible). But neither can I imagine America without, as the Puerto Rican poet José Mercardo wrote, “the harmonious and sonorous Castilian language.”
Some of us remember Lafayette and the French with deepest gratitude –Pershing did in 1918- but at the birth of our nation were many Spanish-speaking heroes also –George Farragut (Jorge Ferragut) father of Admiral Farragut and the victorious allied armies of Bernardo de Gálvez (Galveston , Texas is named after him). And the half-Irish (or half Southern) Admiral Farragut –Lincoln’s admiral- himself remained ever loyal –in spite of his mother’s and his wife’s Southern sympathies to the flag of George Washington and his president Abraham Lincoln. I cannot but wonder if Admiral Farragut, who was fluent in Spanish and very aware of his Spanish heritage, was truly an American and unflinchingly a Unionist BECAUSE he was bilingual and understood America was a land of freedom for all not just for one race or one section of the country. As Daniel Webster asserted : “We have a great, popular, constitutional government, guarded by law, and by judicature, and defended by the whole affections of the people. No monarchical throne presses these States together; no iron chain of military power encircles them; they live and stand under a government popular in its form, representative in its character, founded upon principles of equality, and so constructed, we hope, as to last for ever.” And above all may our Union endure for ages to come. Linguistic and religious pluralism are not the greatest threat to our Union but may instead prove to be a special strength. “Vive la difference” say I and ¡Qué viva la diferencia!
@mahoney; it really is not that hard to learn spanish, but it IS a two- way street. If we need to be bilingual, then the immigrants, legal or illegal, need to try to become bilingual. I know of Chinese doctors who speak Chinese, learn English, then, in Mexifornia learn Spanish. They are smart, let's all be smart, not LAZY.
A mexican cab driver told me a joke: What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages? Trilingual. Speaks 2 languages? Bilingual.
One language? Gringo, but that is now being replaced by IMMIGRANT
Another gift that keeps on giving, courtesy of the Kennedy clan.
Superb as always.
Let's all move to Spain and start demanding that they all speak English to accommodate us. Oh, right: that would make us "Ugly Americans."
Remarks like the one by "jgury" certainly come from an "Ugly Hispanic." Kid, if you don't like it here and can't mind your manners, Go Home.
More seriously, this is, in the eyes of the Leftists who use the hispanic influx as a weapon, a method of cultural genocide. Target? Anglo-Saxon Protestants, specifically; you know, the crew who founded this nation, and threw the party that so many wanted to crash. The pitiful thing is that we're so enfeebled we scarcely resist our erasure from our own nation.
In Canada, all national politicians must speak French. This is why so many PMs are WASPs from Quebec. It's about time that Republicans stopped thinking they can speak Spanish if they can say buenos dias, mis amigos. If they don't, then all of our national guys will have to be hispanic. Is it really that hard to learn Spanish, a language that all of us have been taught for years in school?
As always, your article is brilliant and so timely. Why on earth can't "they" see this?
If the proliferation of espanol in those places you mention weren't enough, consider the signs in all public buildings, including Federal office buildings, throughout the country.
The question may be not whether they want to learn English, but whether they need to learn English.
Mi padres asido pensionista in Espana, la gente en los tiendas hablan Ingles, no apprendan nada de Espanol. Yo casado con una Catalan y trabajando en Barcelona, tengo Espanol y Catalan, pero de vajo nivel.
Si hey tantos que hablan Espanol, no van a apprendar Ingles.
My parents retired to Spain and with all the shopkeeper speaking English, they learnt no Spanish. I married to a Catalan girl form Barcelona learnt basic Spanish and Catalan.
If most people speak Spanish they won't learn English easily.
My friends in Nappa speak to the help on the farm in Spanish, and not to improve their Spanish.
Catalan is the proud language of Barcelona (Catalunya), but it is suprising how many Spanish living in Barcelona speak perfect Spanish and poor Catalan. This might be the future of the majority of a large part of America. At least though I speak Spanish, I have no intention of learning Urdu if I every returned to London to live.
The question may be not whether they want to learn English, but whether they need to learn English.
Mi padres asido pensionista in Espana, la gente en los tiendas hablan Ingles, no apprendan nada de Espanol. Yo casado con una Catalan y trabajando en Barcelona, tengo Espanol y Catalan, pero de vajo nivel.
Si hey tantos que hablan Espanol, no van a apprendar Ingles.
My parents retired to Spain and with all the shopkeeper speakign English, they learn no Spanish. I married to a Catalan girl form Barcelona learnt basic Spanish and Catalan.
If most speak Spanish they won't learn.
My friends in Nappa speak to the help on the farm in Spanish, and not to improve there Spanish.
Catalan is the proud language of Barcelona, but it is suprising how many Spanish living in Barcelona speak perfect Spanish and poor Catalan. Thsi might be the future of the majority of a large part of America. At least though I speak Spanish, I have no intention of learning Urdu if I every returned to London to live.
I live part of the time in Miami and I lived in California for many years. Virtually every worker in my condo is bilingual because half the residents are wealthy immigrants. I assure you that even in Miami English is where the culture is going. By the 3rd generation Spanish is generally lost and English is dominant in the 2nd generation. Further we are acquainted with some struggling immigrants. Believe me they want to learn English, even though one can live in Spanish in Miami.
I agree with Ms. McDonald.
I am Danish born, and would not expect to be able to live and work in this country without knowing English.
E pluribus dos, puta
This appears to be an issue that has to make many Americans angry. It certainly does as far as I am concerned. Here in Missouri, state law has been passed requiring all state business be conducted in english. This includes MVI offices and courtrooms. If a spanish speaking person comes to this country to seek a better life, they should also learn english. We should not be reuired to learn spanish just to help them feel better.
I'm sure that Hanon would have written "powerfully" about New York becoming "Jew York" or "Sicilia York" if he had been around at the turn of the last century. Now he writes ignorant biased drivel about "Mexifornia". He wishes he could go back to the land of his ancestors, "Swedenfornia".
Who named California and why? What language is Amadis de Gaula written in? Hanson is clueless. I always thought MacDonald was smarter than to cite him.