June 16, 2007

Ah-nuld gets it right

The Governator told a gathering of Hispanic journalists on Thursday that mainstreaming recent immigrants means taking off their language crutches:

"You've got to turn off the Spanish television set" and avoid Spanish-language television, books and newspapers, the Republican governor said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

"You're just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster," Schwarzenegger said.

"I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say, and I'm going to get myself in trouble," he said, noting that he rarely spoke German and was forced to learn English when he emigrated from Austria.

Schwarzenegger was responding to a question about how Hispanic students can improve academically. Many journalists for Spanish-language organizations in the audience were surprised by the remarks.

The best part? The predictable response:
"I'm sitting shaking my head not believing that someone would be so naive and out of it that he would say something like that," said Alex Nogales, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Hispanic immigrants need Spanish-language media to stay informed and "function in this society," Nogales said.
I'd just like to point out that this dude is the one keeping his people down, ok. It's not the Man. It's the Hombre.  I should remind Mr. Nogales of a couple of things.  First, Mr. Schwarzenegger DIDN'T have the "native" language resources that you and your colleagues provide.  And somehow, he managed to learn enough to be informed enough to be THE FRIGGING GOVERNOR of the richest, most diverse state in the US. 

How much more functional than the Governor do Hispanic immigrants need to be in this society, Mr. Nogales?

Second, I'd like to invite Mr. Nogales to take a look around.  What language was that interview conducted in?  Oh yeah, English.  What language is spoken in classrooms in major Universities?  What's that?  Yep, also English.  What do you really want Mr. Nogales?  From my perspective as an educator of Hispanic children, I see you doing them and their parents a disservice by making it easy on them to remain in a shadowy "other" realm, LA's second city, where English is rare and education and resources are low.  Let's face it. English is the de facto language of business and academia in this country.  There are limits to what you can do if you do not speak it.  Period.  And the best way to learn English is to be immersed in it, as for any other language.

Props to Ah-Nuld.  He's been there and he accomplished something great, therefore he has the right to share the benefit of his experience.  But to say (essentially) that his opinion is unwelcome because he didn't have the resources available to Spanish speakers in CA today is ludicrous, and furthermore to call him naive and out of touch because he didn't need crutches to get there is selfish and self-serving.

What is your real goal, Mr. Nogales?  To force-feed non-English speakers your bullshit propaganda?  To keep your people down so that they will foment a revolution? Or to make this country as Spanish speaking as Mexico.  Ironic that, as the Spanish language itself was imposed on Mexico about 500 years ago.....

h/t Mikey

Posted by caltechgirl at June 16, 2007 10:50 AM | TrackBack

Bingo Sam. This first thing I thought when I heard this was it's not like English is Arnold's first language. This man is speaking from experience, not out of his ass.

Not only is English the de facto language of commerce here, but it is internationally as well. My sister does quite a bit of traveling to other countries and the locals always gather around them because they want to test their English. Yet here? Well, you know the answer to that.

And I'd like to point out that CTG speaks Spanish; I'm still learning. There's nothing wrong with having a second language. It's actually most helpful when you live somewhere where your native tongue is not the spoken language. Deh.

Posted by: Stacy at June 16, 2007 01:04 PM

CTG, you nailed it! Spanish is NOT the native language of the indigenous people of Mexico - why stick with that - the Conquistadors were far more cruel than the Americans.

Posted by: beth at June 16, 2007 02:05 PM

.... damn, girl..... that was spot on....

Posted by: Eric at June 17, 2007 06:51 PM

What Eric said, in spades...

Posted by: Richmond at June 18, 2007 05:07 PM

I think Alex Nogales gets my "WTF? of the Week" award.

I know a few immigrants...and one of the things they told me was that they either LEARNED English or IMPROVED their English by watching English-language television (and speaking with English speakers; one woman I know said, "I like to speak with you because you speak good English and I know my English will get better if I work with you.")

I suspect that a lot of these folks who claim to be speaking for the immigrants just really want to keep the immigrants weak and dependent on THEM to "take care" of them. It's a position of power, a chance to feed at the public trough, and a chance to say nasty things about non-Hispanics.

Posted by: ricki at June 19, 2007 05:02 AM