Friday, April 06, 2007

Newt's free speech problem

Old white guys who have been in power for a while seem to have trouble maneuvering through race issues. In November, it was Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who referred to Miami as a "third world country." In February, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) referred to Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) as the first "clean" and "articulate" black presidential candidate.

Now former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has referred to languages other than English as "the language of living in a ghetto."
"We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English," he told the women's group last weekend, "so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."

Newt, of course, backpedaled quickly from his statement. Maegan la Mala of Vivir Latino said...
Don't you love how politicos use Spanish when it works for them and when it doesn't, they trash it?

And all three of these guys want to be president.

Besides the racial overtones, there is also a free speech issue here. But, then again, Newt has made it clear before that he's no fan of free speech.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would bilingual education vs. English immersion be considered a "presidential" issue? The educational goal is to teach both English and other subjects as effectively as possible for the student. Which technique to use should be a technical question, not a "political" question. The reason it is a political question is that it is a more or less socially acceptable way to signal to "certain voters" what your racial politics are.

I'm glad he slipped up and used the word "ghetto" so he could be called on it. But there ought to be a frank discussion about what this issue is really all about. It's about appealing to racists.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think every American student in the public schools should be required to study two languages with the goal of fluency in each: Englsh and any other language they choose. As a nation speaking mostly just one language we limit our grasp of cultural and linguistic differences, feeding the drift toward xenophobia, jingoism, and nativist politics. Tancredo, Gingrich, and even Biden (who would surely deny it) are poster children for just such attitudes.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How embarrassing that anyone who would even consider running for President doesn't see the value of a bilingual education - - much less the racism and culturalism in his own remarks.


5:48 PM  

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