Saturday, April 14, 2007

Political Beef: Language

The third issue on which I think political activists are hurting themselves, and the people they claim to represent, is LANGUAGE. Many politically-correct leaders from U.S. ethnic minorities, such as Hispanics and African-Americans, would have us believe that only a right-wing idiot would insist on English being the primary language of instruction in all U.S. public schools. They might, for example, advocate a parallel "Black English" or "Ebonics" track in urban schools, or Hispanophone education programs in the southwestern U.S. And it seems there are a good number of voters, even in those minorities, who follow their lead.

This is sheer stupidity. And for once, I will be very brief in stating why.

It's a simple matter of economics. The people who are hurt by Black English or Hispanophone education are the black and Hispanic kids and their future families. No matter how effectively the politicos dress these multilingual education programs as a concession to the reality, or a gesture of respect toward the cultural diversity of our country, it remains a simple, unquestionable fact in the United States that, to succeed in the highest levels of scholarship, to obtain the most lucrative careers, even just to get a really good job, you must be able to understand and express yourself well in English.

The people who really benefit from teaching the black kids to talk Black English, and teaching the Hispanic kids in Spanish, are not the blacks or Hispanics as such, but the people who want to keep them down. The only thing the black kids get out of Black English is a stronger likelihood of never getting out of the 'hood alive, except perhaps by going to prison or getting sent to the front lines of the next war. The only thing the Hispanic kids get out of being taught Spanish is to be trapped in a Spanish-speaking ghetto, sending the larger part of their crappy paycheck to the family back in the old country where the paychecks are even crappier. None of them, except maybe a few star athletes, will get advanced degrees or get great jobs and careers. They will collect garbage, mend roads, do other people's laundry, or run the cash register at the corner store because they barely have enough English to fill out a job application. They are no threat to the people who don't want them in the country to compete for their jobs; such people aren't really bothered if their minority neighbors live on welfare, so long as they don't show them up at hiring time.

So essentially, keeping Hispanic people speaking Spanish after they cross the border, and keeping black people talking a made-up jargon of their own, ensures that the people who currently have the power and the desirable jobs and careers in this country -- people who, almost without exception, speak English -- will keep what they have. It's a form of economic exploitation, creating a class of consumers for the products we make without being threatened by their competition in the work force, the academic world, or the political arena.

If the minorities and their political leaders are smart, they won't stand for this. They will learn to speak English better than us lazy Anglos, earn high degrees, get top jobs, and move to the suburbs where they can watch white people collect their garbage. But as long as it is "politically correct" to support multilingual education, such people will be a prey to their own ignorance and to the English-speaking parties who have an interest in keeping them "in their place."

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