What Business Is It Of Yours?

I’d jump into this a little more, but my head would explode and I’d have to clean up the mess:

“You know, I don’t understand when people are going around worrying about, ‘We need to have English- only.’ They want to pass a law, ‘We want English-only,'” Obama said. “Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they’ll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.

“You know, it’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], ‘Merci beaucoup.’ Right? (Laughter) You know, no, I’m serious about this. We should understand that our young people, if you have a foreign language, that is a powerful tool to get a job. You are so much more employable. You can be part of international business. So we should be emphasizing foreign languages in our schools from an early age, because children will actually learn a foreign language easier when they’re 5, or 6, or 7 than when they’re 46, like me.”

And cue themouthbreathing wingnut asshole parade talking about how we should be forcing people to learn English at gunpoint, and how hard it is on them to press 1 for English, and how downtrodden is the American white man these days:

This man, I don’t know what is in his water, if he’s drinking any water. This man is a sick man. He is a scary man. I am outraged. I’m really mad.

I mean, I have been a proponent for English to be the official language for over two years now. I can’t support any politician that doesn’t agree on that. You are here, you must learn English. You must learn it now. We’re not here to speak Spanish. You can learn all the languages you want, but English is the language that should be official in this country.

And I would like to make this statement right now for the thousands and thousands of e-mails over the last couple years I got in support of the English, which 80 percent of the people agree it should be the official language. If you believe in Joey Vento’s English stand, you have got to go against this man. This man is bad for the country. Go against all your politicians. E-mail them. Make phone calls. Do whatever it takes.

I mean, what the fucking … just WHAT, okay, this thing we’re doing where we’re making our national conversation like the snide remarks at the neighborhood barbecue about who does and doesn’t mow his lawn, or who lets her dog out too late at night and thus the little pocket rat wakes up the whole block barking. Nasty, gossipy, stupid, condescending little assholes, sniping about who does and doesn’t learn English. This makes me more insane than anything else in politics, this “I overheard somebody not speaking English once in a Kohl’s therefore no one knows English anymore and damn it, that ain’t right!” fuckingthing.

Obama’s doing about as well as he can on the campaign trail here, saying “Let’s make this about whatyou know and don’t know instead of worrying about everybody else’s admissions to Berlitz.”

To which I could only add “you whiny, irritating, smug scold making assumptions about what immigrants know and don’t know. Go get a fucking hobby and stop staring at people through the blinds on your mental bay window, for fuck’s sake. This shit doesn’tmatter, okay, it won’t matter until we are all done handling all the people dying of preventable diseases and poverty and hunger, until we have fixed every hole in the roof of every school, until we have paid for the medical care of every soldier harmed in this country’s cause, until we can walk down the streets of our cities and find them rebuilt and bereft of the homeless and the desperate, until no one is unwanted or unloved, until we havehandled our country’s shit like grown-ass human beings, you could not pay me to care what language the woman down the street uses to talk to her kids. You could not pay me. You could wave money in my face and it would not move me to get worked up about that, so for fuck’s sake, go learn how to knit or something. Make a sweater. Be useful in some way. Jesus Orville Reddenbacher Christ.”

A.

14 thoughts on “What Business Is It Of Yours?

  1. Do all your crappy sandwiches come with a side order of red herring, Mr. Vento?

  2. English became the official language of the state of California, by proposition on the ballot, way back in about 1986. And it has made ALL the difference!
    It changed…ah…well…People had to…er…You can see the difference when you…ummm…
    Never mind.

  3. Thanks to Sputnik I got an early start (in 4th grade, in a public school) on learning a foreign language. The panic that the little beeping commie orb induced in U.S. politicians quickly resulted in considerable new money for beefed-up science and foreign language instruction, and since my science experiments always resulted in at least 1st degree burns, I went with the much safer Conversational French.
    Which led to Latin, Spanish, German in h.s. and college and a few other tongues via OJT as an adult.
    Which all led to the epiphany that every single one of them strengthened my English skills — because English is such a strange amalgam of so many different lingoes (and is maddening to make sense of, since it retains some of their spelling and pronunciation, but in no consistent fashion).
    The English Only idiots don’t know they’re ALREADY speaking a mother tongue that’s the relatively recent offspring of 4 or 5 others.

  4. The biggest advocate of foreign language education in US schools is Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. Eight US states already have foreign language requirements to graduate including liberal bastions like Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana. Another 8 states either have foreign language requirements in the works. This is yet another manufactured controversy.
    I hope McCain picks Pawlenty as VP so Obama can say “I think Sen. McCain made a fine choice. I’m glad he picked somebody that agrees with me on the importance of language education in our schools. I wouldn’t go so far as Gov. Pawlenty and require that every school teach Mandarin Chinese, but I applaud Gov. Pawlenty’s leadership in this area.”
    If you make a great ignition switch in Ohio it just might be a good idea to speak German or Japanese or Korean so you can sell your part to every car maker in the world. It’s nice that McCain loves ABBA but instead of mocking people who know a second language maybe he should thank them for singing in English, not their native Swedish.

  5. Don’t talk differently, walk differently, look different, think differently, believe differently…
    We’ll tell you exactly how to do all this.
    /wingnuts

  6. You know, for years I advocated for learning a second language early and thought my children fortunate to attend school in a district (Minneapolis) that offered language (at least Spanish) in elementary school. All three took Spanish, two continued with it through high school while the third switched to French – now one of them lives in Seville, Spain and most think he’s a native. However, after the last seven+ years, I’d be happy just to have thenatives speak and write in coherent English.
    Do something constructive “…go learn how to knit or something. Make a sweater. Be useful in some way.” Exactly.

  7. If we are to operate in a global economy, we’ll have to speak the global tongue.

  8. Is anyone going to tell the wingnuts that language police is a French idea?

  9. I don’t think we should be a bilingual nation but a multilingual nation. Forget Spanish. Teach kidsany foreign language at a young age, when the mind is still a sponge. One reason I love being the daughter of Indian emigrants is the sheer number of languages we speak at home and how it helps us communicate better. Reasoning, parsing, grokking of any subject is greatly helped when you can conceptualize it in different ways thanks to varied linguistic capabilities.
    It’s not about losing American culture, whatever that is, and English. It’s about increasing brain power, making our kids competitive globally and keeping them from being general dumbshits.

  10. i am so screwed. i just cant pick up another language-damn dyslexia. but i do know a few danish. thank you, butter and cream. and i still remember odd spanish words.

  11. Why think small? Make dozens of languages available and encourage each child to learn two or three. It used to be that a person was not thought to be educated until he or she could speak and write Latin, Greek, and French. I would add Arabic, Hindi, and Mandarin to that list these days.

  12. Pansypoo, one of my kids is (more or less) “dyslexic” and he did a decent job of picking up beginning Spanish. I think it varies from person to person, and has not much to do with dyslexia.
    The way languages are taught, might also have a lot to do with it. I “learned” Spanish pretty much the traditional way, not too much of it stuck. I had two (?) years of non-traditional modern Greek (mix of kids learning Greek and kids learning English, ad hoc curriculum assembled by the teacher) and lots more of it worked, even though it was in a different alphabet.

  13. Pansypoo, I’m only dyslexic in my foreign languages. There are certainkatakana (in Japanese) that I can’t tell apart for love or money, and I’m still struggling, something like four years later, to tell a cursivegimel from a cursivezayin (in Hebrew), for instance. I don’t seem to have much trouble with any of my languages that use Roman letters, although I can’t spell in French, and I never have been able to. (I can’t spell in Hebrew, either, but I think that’s just beginner’s shit luck.)
    I won’t claim to be the world’s most polyglot person, but I can answer the phone at least in four languages, and get around at an extremely basic level in Japanese besides. (I’ve lost most of my more extensive vocabulary at this point, twelve or thirteen years after I stopped taking it, but I still remember most of the grammar; I just have nothing to hang on it.)
    I’d also like to point out what the idiots quoted in the post don’t seem to know and what Robert Earle alluded to: There’s a difference between making some language the “official” language (that is, the language in which the state issues official documents) and having someplace be a linguistic monoculture. Hereabouts, we have two “official” languages, but if I’m just wandering around on the street, I’m liable to hear five or six different ones, none of which is likely to be the second official language after English…

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