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although for the life of me I can’t conceive of a place where they wouldn’t become moochers.

28 Nov

speak-english-or-get-out

If you are thinking- challenged and haven’t found something popular to be mad about, how about your neighbors who don’t speak English?

There is nothing dumber than the statement that “My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better.”

Those immigrant ancestors who managed to  learn English did so as a matter of expediency, need and genuine willingness to adapt and enter our society. They did it as the wisest practical solution –  and not because candidate and pundit fat heads made tough speeches about forcing people to learn English and requiring the government to print no forms in anything but English.

It almost makes you wish that some particular immigrants – those whose descendants have become unreasonable jingoists or mindless bigots –  had not come here back then.
The American Dream might be more alive and well rather than a nation’s biggest lie.

… as if speaking English then entitles immigrants to the total respect of all the angry white folks who think Fox News is fair and balanced

… as if those viewers – demands met – would then welcome anyone who is “not-U.S.” to be with “U.S.”

Those immigrant ancestors who did manage to learn English (and there were many more who never did) didn’t do so because American jingoists (I know that’s a big word for people entirely raised or entertained by four-letter English words) refused to talk to them.

I was asked once to teach a conversational Spanish class for business and  health care persons in the local community college. Class never got held because enrollers were too few.

Fifteen years ago, through my Episcopal parish, we started an ESL (English as a Second Language for all you English-speakers who get stuck after 4 letters) primarily aimed at local Hispanic families.

When the number of those who signed up reached 46 the college saw $$ in fed funding and actively started recruiting me to turn the class into a college-based course. Local immigrants wanted to learn English but had to balance the demands of a local job market and economy. This in an area of  high unemployment where many English-speaking white folks refused to work for minimum-wage labor in seafood canneries that support the entire community.

I remember my Russian classes at Syracuse University in 1969. Our teachers were mostly White Russians or their descendents who fled the USSR at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Most if not all were degreed and still spoke English with a heavy Slavic accent.

In fact, because I could already speak Spanish, my Russian grammar professor laughed and told me that I spoke Russian with a Spanish accent, not an American accent.

You know, Russian has its own alphabet with more letters than in the English alphabet. Russian is expressed with words whose spelling and pronunciation are changed depending on what are called declensions: the variation of the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, by which its grammatical case, number, and gender are identified.

I didn’t know what a declension was til Syracuse and I thought the Russian was impossible project for me.

Consider the following:

There is nothing dumber than the statement that “My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better.”

Written in Russian: Там нет ничего глупее, чем утверждение, что “Мои предки иммигрантов изучать английский язык, и они не лучше”.

Transliterated (using English letters to try to pronounce the above statement): Tam net nichego glupeye, chem utverzhdeniye, chto “Moi predki immigrantov izuchat’ angliyskiy yazyk, i oni ne luchshe.

My point was that my Syracuse instructors were far more educated than most Americans, yet they insisted that English was much harder for them to learn than Russian would be for us. They did it but not under an insane and bigoted threat of deportation if they did not. And we as a nation are all the better because of our immigrants regardless of their language.

Because of their perseverance brash young military students in 1969 who qualified for the Russian course in the first place by getting higher aptitude scores than most citizens of this country were capable of achieving became bilingual Cold Warriors. Why? Because immigrants came here and were allowed opportunities  to become citizens, to contribute and to receive benefits from our American dream.

Which causes me to express the idea that our citizens’ weak abilities with their own language is embarrassing. Such is much more a national shame than whether or not our immigrants learn English at all.

More of the immigrant problem lies not with the immigrants but in the hearts of sons and daughters – both elected and unelected – who are descendants from immigrants, but who seem to think that every one of THEIR particular ancestors learned to speak English via some sort of divinely jingoistic American osmosis.

I might suggest that we should make it a law that all Americans who do not learn to speak English correctly and effectively should be imported to places where their language laziness wouldn’t matter … although for the life of me I can’t conceive of a place where they wouldn’t become English-speaking moochers.

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