Monday, May 14, 2007

"Populist" views on immigrants learning English

CNN's Lou Dobbs has made himself quite a name by railing against illegal immigration recently. One notable piece of this stuff is his "populist" and "defending the middle class" rhetoric.

The progressive radio talkshow host Ed Schultz also makes a big point about being a populist, too: He talks a lot about hunting and fishing, is even a former pro football player, etc. In the context of talking about illegal immigration, he started his show a little while ago by talking about how we've got a problem with immigrants who are unable to speak and understand English — I missed the beginning, but it sounds like somebody screwed up his order at McDonald's or something. He went on for a while asking rhetoical questions about the need for a single language for a single country, etc. In the end, he stresses how this is a real problem, and how we've "just been afraid to address it".

What is it going to take to get some little modicum of sanity on this issue? As noted before in this corner of the ether, the basic information is readily available in easily accessible form:
James Crawford. 2000. At War with Diversity: US language policy in an age of anxiety. Multilingual Matters.
"If you come to the country, just learn the language," a caller just said. Well, fine, but that's not like mowing the grass ... it takes a while. Schultz is now asking whether the guy he met was failed by the public schools! Are there people today who've been to American schools and can't speak English?

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