Monday, July 21, 2008


"Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish."

10th July. Remember this date. For me, at least, it's the day Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency 'Jumped the Shark.'

The term 'Jumping the Shark' refers to the tipping point in a long running television, film or comic series. The point where it goes from 'good' to 'dire.' Specifically, a 1977 episode of the popular sitcom Happy Days in which greaser 'The Fonz' jumps over a man eating shark on a pair of water skies - and Happy Days goes from the second most popular show in America to an oft-mocked (and soon cancelled) joke.

Obama's reached that stage, as far as I'm concerned.

I've mentioned many times how frustrated I am with the pandering towards the Spanish language in America. Almost all signs and instructions are written in both English and Spanish and if anybody complains, they're labelled as a 'racist.'

I've run into more and more problems recently. For example, my credit card statements - despite numerous complaints to Bank of America - continue to be delivered in Spanish (Bank of America automatically assume any immigrant has to come from south of the border.)

Yesterday, I bought a new microphone for my computer and the warranty instructions were given to me entirely in Spanish - because that store has very few English speaking customers.

This is not acceptable.

America is an English speaking country - and if Russian, Chinese and Iranian immigrants can manage to learn English when they move here, I fail to understand why Spanish-speaking immigrants are not expected to.

But what's worse - why our potential new president doesn't have a problem with this! In fact, he's ordering (not suggesting, ordering) us to teach our children Spanish.

Bugger that!

Here and now, Mr Obama, let me tell you this... My child will learn French. Not Spanish. French - and if he wants to learn a second language, that's his choice, but I'd recommend Chinese. Or Polish. Or Swahili. Anything other than Spanish.


Because America's children should not have to be bilingual to live here! America is an English speaking country! As I've repeated ad nauseum, I was expected to learn French when I worked in Paris. Why the hell should it be any different here?

But this is all old news. An argument I've repeated many times before. It's only worth mentioning here because Obama just out and out said what I'd been dreading - that he's pandering to the Hispanic vote by promising them whatever they want to hear.

Which seems to be his stock in trade. Obama talks big and makes broad promises and gullible, foolish people (myself included, until recently) swallow them up.

He tells liberals 'I'm against guns!'

He tells 2nd Amendment nuts 'Your guns are safe with me!'

He's pro choice, pro gay-rights - but doing a better job than centrist-conservative McCain at winning over the evangelical movement (up to 15% are reported to have defected to the Obama camp since the campaign began.)

He comforts the liberals: "This notion that's peddled by the religious right - that they are oppressed is not true. Sometimes it's a cynical ploy to move their agenda ahead. The classic example being that somehow secularists are trying to eliminate Christmas, which strikes me as some kind of manufactured controversy."

H courts the conservatives: "Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. The majority of great reformers in American history repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause."

Basically, Barack Obama tells you whatever you want to hear -depending who he's talking to (and hoping neither group compares notes.) It's only when November rolls around that we'll see the true 'colour of his money' (and his real credentials.)

"Change you can believe in."

That's the motto of the Obama campaign - and what a wonderful piece of marketing it is. By pandering to the disgruntled and unsatisfied (which is most of us, let's be honest) he promises the one thing that appeals across the board. 'Change.'

You don't need to quantify this change. You just have to promise it - and we gullible voters will envision whatever it is we want changed (and assume that Obama can give it to us.)

It's only when you start reading between the rhetoric that the hollow shell of Obama's campaign is revealed. In his July 10th speech, Obama promised 'change' alright. He promised to pressure Americans to make their kids learn Spanish - so the continued wave of illegal immigrants he welcomes to this country don't need to.


ck said...

Welcome to the Republican Party.

Its all uphill from here.

The Chemist said...

I don't know about the rest of Obama's statements, but I happen to think this one is spot on.

I attended a lecture recently of an educational anthropologist working in a primarily Hispanic school. She found that by and large, children of immigrants successfully surmount the language barrier, whether they are here illegally or not. They will however, affect a kind of bilingualism. Their parents on the other hand, are here now, and there is no educational or professional incentive for undocumented migrants to learn English whatsoever. Their status is impermanent, and they preform menial labor.

It is racism, whether or not it is deliberate, to assume that the specific character of a group is such that X, Y, and then Z. You assume the specific character of Spanish speaking migrants is to refuse to learn English, but by and large, it's the specific character of a socio-political class of migrants. It just so happens that they are an exceptionally large class. Those with permanent status learn English quickly.

That said, we have labor needs that cannot be satisfied by American muscle alone, especially as we move into post-industrialism. These migrants, whether we choose to give them status or not, are an essential part of the economy. If we arrange an efficient process to legally bring migrants over the border to do work, then we will still have to learn Spanish, or evolve an Anglo-Spanic pidgin to communicate cohesively in a work environment.

What Obama is saying here is right, it's just not, oh how shall I put this? Politically correct?

Tom said...

The problem with Obama is that there's no there there. He spent half the past decade running for office... and leaving little record to bind him to one position to the other. The result is this sort of quantum mechanical policy-superposition, which takes on whatever beliefs the observer wants.

Oh, and don't believer the hype about Obama winning evangelicals. According to the Pew survey, Obama has a smaller fractrion of evangelicals than Kerry in 2004 or Gore in 2000.

Coffee Bean said...

I went to high school near San Diego... My girls went to public school for a short time east of L.A. My middle daughter's kindergarten class was comprised mainly on non-english speaking children. In fact, she was one of three english speaking students out of 30. Her teacher was the same teacher our other daughter had the year before. That class had a much higher ratio of english speaking children to spanish speaking... maybe even as close as 50%. The teacher had a baby during the summer between my two girls classes and I took care of that baby for the next year. The teacher was bilingual because she had to be to teach kindergarten. We were pretty annoyed that our daughter was in a class that spent so much time teaching english when she already knew it but it was the way it was.

When we were homeschooling we paid to have our girls take Spanish for two years to fulfill the high school requirement for foreign language. Spanish was the logical choice because it is the language they would have the most occasion to use here in the states. Our middle daughter is continuing with it in college and hopes to be an exchange student to Spain her junior year.

I just don't understand why the english language is not our official language... why we don't have an official language at all. The fact is if you want to make it here in the states, you need to speak, read and write english. If you live near the border or in states with a large hispanic population... it is best to be bilingual depending on what line of business you are in. I don't have a problem with people immigrating to the U.S. as long as it is done legally. I do not understand the line of reasoning that says Americans won't do the jobs they do. Hmmmmm... simple economics. If people come here and are willing to work for less money than the people already here... that is what will happen. Why pay an American a decent wage when you can get several Mexicans to do it... and they can send the money back to their families in Mexico and get more for it. People say... well we need them because they do the work that Americans are too good to do... as if it is our faults that they are illegally coming here. I feel for them. I really do. It must really suck in Mexico to not be able to take care of your families. The easiest thing for them to do is to travel north and get jobs here... have babies here forever anchoring them.

It is offensive to me to have someone going around saying that we Americans should be forced to be bilingual. It makes sense to learn Spanish if you are in an area where you would use it and you choose to. I love that my daughter is working toward that! But, just what kind of change is Obama preaching? He's pro-choice when it comes to aborting a baby... but he's not pro-choice when it comes to the language you speak? What is with his bashing of the American people and so many of the American people being mesmerized? It's like the battle cry is, "Yes Big Daddy Obama! We Americans are selfish and horrible and we need you to come give us a big spankin and make some changes!"

pamokc said...

Dang, I wish you could vote!

Anonymous said...

We think you should be quiet!

Roland Hulme said...

Who exactly are you talking to anonymous? And do you have a name?