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Friday, July 28, 2006 

Language Policing Gone Too Far

Amidst of the current top story, other stories have flown under the radar. It seems that Englishnistas have done it again. In New Jersey, by a vote 4 to 2, Bogota's city council has authorized, Steve Lonegan, Bogota's conservative and outspoken Republican mayor, to write a letter urging McDonald's to take down it's billboard that advertises iced coffee in Spanish. He is also for his citizens to boycott McDonald's if they refuse to take down it’s sign.
The mayor of a small Bergen County town is calling for a McDonald's boycott if the fast-food chain does not take down a Spanish-language billboard advertising iced coffee.
His angst against the ad being done in Spanish is that McDonald's is sending a message to Spanish-speaking immigrants that they don't need to learn English. In fact, Lonegan, has characterized the billboard as a "racial profiling marketing campaign."

For most Americans, racism is viewed only white supremacist organizations, KKK, and other similar organizations like them. What does race have to do with language, after all? Is it racist to suggest that immigrants need to learn English to prosper in this country? What's wrong with encouraging them to enter the mainstream rather than remain apart?

Although, these are reasonable questions it diversts the the real issue, racism is a matter of group power; it is about a dominant racial group (whites) striving to maintain its systemic advantages and minorities fighting to subvert the racial status quo.

Whereas the principles liberalism and humanism were used to argue equality in the past, the Englishnistas are now using it as their the main rhetorical weapons to justify contemporary racial inequality. Many conservatives use these principles in an abstract way that allows them to support the racial status quo in an apparently "reasonable" fashion. After receiving criticism Mayor Lonegan explained his opposition to the to the McDonald's ad in meritocratic fashion:
He said the borough welcomes Hispanics and is proud of its diversity. But he added that the English language is the common thread that ties residents together and that the Spanish-language billboard undermines that notion.

"For every one of those people there's 10 people that are proud we're standing up for this," the mayor said.
In Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's "The Linguistics of Color Blind Racism: How to Talk Nasty about Blacks without Sounding 'Racist'" [PDF], Bonilla-Silva argue that his color blind rhoteric has become the new contemporary racetalk.

Mayor Lonegan, is not the only one comtemplating this action. There's a suprising unanimity among white folks across party lines when it comes to attacks on the use of race as a concept, that is coming from liberalism and from the left. One of the hallmarks the Democratic Leadership Council the effot to move the Democratic Party further to the right. In doing so, this attempt has consequences, it will marginalize the inequities of both minorities and the poor all in the name of appeals for "universal" programs. Meanwhile Immigration Reform and Bilingualism have become a bipartisan bloodsport.

Recently, the Congressional Education and Workforce Committee held one of their "field hearings" regarding immigration reform. The purpose of the was to investigate the role of English in the US.
What is the role of English in American education and society, and does the Reid-Kennedy bill undermine, rather than encourage, this role?
This is not the first time the Englishnistas had a crack at Congress.

History of the English Only Movement
Englishnista movement first bagan in 1981 when U.S. English spearheaded the constitutional English Language Amendment. If passed, the proposal would have banned virtually all uses of languages other than English by federal, state, and local governments. By 1988, all but two of the fifty states had at least considered legislation to declare English their official language – most of them in response to lobbying by U.S. English.

However, Englishnistas hit a brick wall when people found out the true motives behind their plan. In 1988, the Arizona Republic published excerpts of a confidential memo from the anti-immigration leader John Tanton. The memo was the seed that planted the idea of the Reconquista movement. The memo discussed the importance of defending "our common language" because of the "threat" of a Hispanic takeover. Unless something was done, it warned, the US would face a Hispanic takeover through immigration and high birthrates:
Gobernar es poblar translates "to govern is to populate." In this society where the majority rules, does this hold? Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? ... Can homo contraceptivus compete with homo progenitiva [sic] if borders aren't controlled? Or is advice to limit one's family simply advice to move over and let someone else with greater reproductive powers occupy the space? ... Perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down! ...

How will we make the transition from a dominant non-Hispanic society with a Spanish influence to a dominant Spanish society with a non-Hispanic influence? ... As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion? ... We're building in a deadly disunity. All great empires disintegrate, we want stability.
The memo was a frank revival of the theory of "race suicide."

Make no mistake, US English may act as it's only purpose is a language issue. US English is the sister organization to Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the organization that deals with the immigration issue. Tanton went off to start FAIR, determined, as he later recalled, to defy "the taboo that in 1979 proscribed discussion of the immigration issue."

US English and FAIR are kept separate because it is a tactical matter. To charge linguistic minorities with refusing to assimilate and simultaneously to propose limiting their numbers smacked of ethnic intolerance, a return to the old nativism. It would reveal an impolitic analysis – shared by several (though not all) leaders of FAIR and U.S. English – that the problem was not merely the quantity of new immigrants, but the quality: too many Hispanics.

Tanton had written the paper for a private study group drawn principally from U.S. English, FAIR, and allied organizations. He dubbed it WITAN, after the Old English witenagemot, or council of wise men to advise the king.

Insecurity And Resentment
For groups like English Only, FAIR, Center for Equal Opportunity, Center for Immigration Studies, Council of Conservative Citizens, among other Immigration Reform and Language Restrictionism advocates they have one target in particular: that amalgam of imperial and indigenous traditions, incorporating Castilian, Galician, Moorish, Aztec, Mayan, Taino, and West African elements, known loosely as "Hispanic." Not that nativists indulge in such fine distinctions. What concerns WITAN is a monolithic set of bad habits that it deems inimical to the American experiment: a "Latin" psychology that breeds underdevelopment, antisocial behavior, authoritarianism, educational failure, overpopulation, and of course, bilingualism. This is an updated version of the Black Legend. The villains are no longer ruthless conquistadores, but "ethnic bosses" who keep their people in bondage.

If the language was really the issue, they must look to their leader to blame to the decline of English. It was Dudya's "No Child left Behind Act," that ended Title VII, the Bilingual Education Act that encouraged "developing the English language skills" of children but also "to the extent possible, the native language skills." The Act began in 1968 under Lyndon Johnson, and was renewed by all four Republicans, three Democrats before him. The new law disregards any instruction in any language other than English.

The Englishnista argument is only based on a Nationalist pride which is why they beat their chest proclaiming "This is America! That's way." Proclaiming English the national language will not unify this country, it will only divide it even further than it already is. The left was capable a decade ago of dissecting such a shell game, but now they are contributed to the fear of the brown menace - The Latino Boogieman.

Modern racial ideology does not thrive on the ugliness of the past, on the language and tropes typical of slavery and Jim Crow. Today, their language is a sanitized to justify keeping minorities out of the good things in life with the language of liberalism ("I am all for equal opportunity; that's why I oppose affirmative action!"). Today's Englishnistas do not feel guilty about a minorities' plight because they simply believe if minorities are not succeeding it's because they are not trying hard enough.

I know I will receive criticisms from conservative and liberal Englishnistas alike, which they will rebuke with statements such as "You are hypersensitive." or "Just because I start disagreeing with you, you start calling out "racism!" Is post is meant to confront the color blind nonsense from within. The collective denial about the true nature of race relations may help them feel good, but it is also one of the greatest obstacles for them to do the right thing. My aim is to provoke, trigger Englishnistas and to expose themselves for who they truly are and counter their abstract liberal bullshit with concrete liberal positions based on a realistic understanding of racial matters and a concern with achieving racial equality.

It is time to demand equality NOW! We must say "NO" to poverty, to substandard schools and housing, to inferior wages and shit jobs, to old and new fashioned discrimination, to Driving While Black, Mexican, or Puerto Rican.

"HELL, NO" to second class citizenship in America. Only by demanding what seems impossible now, will we be able to make true equality possible in the near future.

Viva La Raza!


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  • From Tejas, United States
  • Un Xicano who is tired of the current status quo.
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