Hoo boy. Just when you thought you’d heard Newt Gingrich’s name for the last time, he goes and says something incredibly stupid and insensitive. Not that Republicans saying stupid and insensitive things is particularly newsworthy (nor is the sun coming up), but this one just stuck out.
Gingrich, in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, indicated an openness to other cultures that is representative of the current administration:
“The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. … We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”
Yuh huh. Since real ‘Mercans like yourself are setting such a good example.
Gingrich was specifically against the printing of ballots in different languages. Surprisingly, Federal law in the U.S. mandates that ballots must be printed in other languages when there is a sufficient population of individuals who speak languages other than English. I say surprisingly because that is quite an accommodating position to take – Dubya must have missed an opportunity to ace that law somewhere along the line.
Language is an expression of culture, which is what folks like old Newt are afraid of. This guy is representative of the generation that considered ‘culture’ the latest John Wayne movie. Other cultures, with their expressive and probably permissive natures, were not reflective of the mythical ‘America’ that some want to return to. Everything was squeaky clean, lawns were perfect, a wife brought the pipe and slippers, and those darned foreigners stayed where they were, if they knew what was good for them. White America had their own groups to oppress and discriminate against, thank you, they didn’t need any extra mouths to slap. Black and Native America were scary enough, but at least white folks (the bastion of christian cleanliness) could understand what they were saying. Stuff like “Please remove your jackboot from my neck”, and other such phrases.
The richness and variety inherent in other cultures, both English-speaking and not, can only benefit a nation. The greater the variety of language and culture, the greater the strength of a community, and overall, the better a place becomes. Denigrating and mocking others because they’re ‘not like us’ makes people defensive, suspicious and resentful, which makes guys like the Newtster wonder why ‘those people’ don’t appreciate everything that the white devil has sacrificed for them.
Like a little bit of ink, and some paper that allows newcomers to feel they are a part of the democratic process in the so-called greatest nation on the globe. Years ago, they were on the way there. But now, what it means to be ‘American’ is synonymous with what it means to conform. Whether you like it or not.