Thursday, January 11, 2007

English: A Second Language?

"Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men." ~ Jane Addams

When I moved here, I had to enroll my son in school. We live in an area that is mostly white, but there are many black students in his school, and a few Hispanic and other minority students.

When we filled out the paperwork for his school we also received a packet of papers describing the school, it's district, and the various programs the school offered. Included in this packet was a form to fill out, if we considered ourselves qualified, for reduced price or free meals for the student.

This is not unusual, in fact, I have never seen a school that didn't offer this program, and I think it is a very good program for underprivileged students.

What made this particular form jump out at me is this:

It was printed completely in Spanish.

All of it. Not part of it. All of it. It wasn't printed in English with Spanish subtitles, or printed in Spanish with English subtitles. It was all Spanish.

All Spanish.

I'm not kidding. I know just enough Spanish to recognise what the document was. I wondered, breifly, if there were any parents who received the same form that didn't understand a word of it. Then I realized it was probably included in our packet by mistake.

Actually, I am more amused than outraged at this political correctness gone overboard. It was, after all, just an administrative mistake. I take it for what it is.

But doesn't it say something about our new all-inclusive society nonetheless?

Lately I have been decrying Government overkill and political correctness run amok. The efforts to make the playing field equal in this country have swung too far the other direction.

I think the only way to defeat discrimination is to let people sort out their problems on their own, through ordinary interaction with people of all races, and get the Government out of it. All the Government does is make things worse.

Remember how the Irish were treated in the 19th century in this country? They were discriminated against, and the Government did nothing to alleviate their situation. Yet somehow, the Irish are now accepted as typical white Americans. How did we learn to accept them without Government intervention?

We did it by using good old American common sense.

Perhaps we should try that approach again.


The Wrath said...

Mark, it depends on which part of the country you're in. In the US SW and in Florida (and of course in Puerto Rico, also part of the USA), Spanish has been a public language since before the Mexican War and the Spanish-American War and recognized as such. Giving such recognition to Spanish was an essential compromise in incorporating these territories into the USA and it's why they have a different culture and linguistic milieu than, say, South Carolina.

I used to work in northeastern Arizona and this sort of thing wasn't at all unusual-- just about every piece of marketing literature we pumped out had a Spanish version to it, written pamphlets as well as audiotapes and CD's. Nobody thought much about it-- it's just the culture of the region since the early 1800's and was accepted by everybody. We all learned Spanish and became fluent at it, just to survive in that economy. It's an integral part of the region.

"Remember how the Irish were treated in the 19th century in this country? They were discriminated against, and the Government did nothing to alleviate their situation. Yet somehow, the Irish are now accepted as typical white Americans."

Mark, I'm of Irish ancestry myself, and while I might put down "White" on a census form, I and my family would never consider ourselves "typical White Americans". In some parts of the country, being Irish *still* carries a kind of stigma (New England still has a residue of this), and for our part, we consider it a badge of honor to consider ourselves a people apart. We will never, ever call ourselves "Anglo" as we were sometimes erroneously dubbed in Arizona-- I always made sure to pointedly correct anyone who labeled us as such. Part of this is indeed residual anger at the way the British and the "Anglo-Saxons" in general treated and continue to scorn us, while refusing to fess up to the historical record. But mainly, it's just a distinctive streak to our heritage. Despite many generations of intermarriage with Poles, Russians and Finns, as a cultural identifier, the Irish part of our family is especially strong, and that's how we see ourselves. We even use Irish Gaelic at home on holidays at times. We're in no way typical White Americans, though.

Anonymous said...

Mark, great post!

Wrath, gawd!

Lone Ranger said...

I've never been able to figure out how the Spanish got a free pass. The Conquistadors were white. They invaded the Americas. They slaughtered entire cultures, enslaved Indians, and imposed their culture on others to a far greater extent than did the Europeans in North America. Our motivation for coming to the West was to seek freedom. Their motiviation was to seek gold and other riches.

Yet, the people of Latin America don't seem to resent their mixed blood, they hold no grudges against Spain and they STILL oppress the few minority Indian tribes that still exist.

And when they attempt to illegally enter this country, they call US racist for trying to stop them?

Thanks to Ted Kennedy's 1964 immigration bill that favored the unskilled and uneducated over those who could contribute the most to this country and to leftists' general one-world mindset, this country has turned from being a melting pot to a litter box.

Marie's Two Cents said...

Mark, where the heck did you move to? (Unless you would wrather not say) I thought you were in Maryland.

I would have complained and demanded a form in English!

This whole thing is getting totally out of hand.

Mark said...

Marie, I moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia, about 50 miles south of Washington DC. It is in my profile info.

I didn't complain about the form, but I did tell the school about it, since I am not getting free or reduced meals for my son anyway.

I refuse to add my name to the lists of welfare cheats. If I can afford to pay for my son's meals, I won't take handouts.

Jim said...

Great comment, wrath. How thoughtful.