“Press 1 for English..”

June 2, 2007

The Hispanicification of the United States: Where does it end?

OK I need to get this off my chest and you can all flame me for it if you wish as I am sure some of you will!

I have become so sick and tired of this country cow-towing and pandering to the Spanish speaking population. What on earth is wrong with America lately? I have absolutely nothing whatsoever against Spanish speaking peoples so do not read this and think it is a racist rant because it isn’t and if you think it is, then you’re as small-minded as everyone else that is following this path of politically correct ass-licking.

I want to make the following very clear to anyone who reads this: I am not racist by nature or by action. I am not advocating or condoning anyone, anything or any group in regards to subject matter such as (but not limited to), racism, illegal aliens, illegal immigration, opening or closing of borders, license to work, right to vote, right to bear arms, protesting, propaganda, or any pro or anti organization that builds its cause or following on any one or all of the aforementioned.

This blog rant is purely about the American language and how concerned I am about the current state of affairs. In a nutshell, what concerns me is the Hispanic demands for bi-lingualism and the apparent insistence that Spanish be spoken by the police, school teachers, educational & administrative staff, hospitals, courts, federal and state government etc., and moreover that American institutions cater to hispanics by “providing Spanish language voting ballots, federal, state and local governmental forms, driver’s license tests, signage, banking etc., etc., ad nauseam.” (Ed. I stole much of that last sentence from someone else because it said what I wanted to say!)

I live in Michigan, we barely have any hispanic people in this state at all. As a percentage of the overall Michigan population, spanish speaking people make up barely 2%. Yet 3 weeks ago, our local Lowes hardware store re-opened after 4 weeks of refurbishment stating to their customers that the restructuring chaos was to ‘reorganize their inventory’ when in fact it has become abundantly clear that the number one reason for the disruption has been to change all the signage to include Spanish. Every single sign, price ticket, label, instructions and electronic till. I can count on one foot how many hispanics live in my town and 50% of those work in the same restaurant! True statement!

Last year the University of Michigan started a study that identified that 10% of the spanish speaking world lives in the US. And rough estimates put that number at approx 13% of the US population.

After doing my own research these are the countries that have spanish as their primary or only language:

Venezuela Uruguay Peru Paraguay
Ecuador Colombia Chile Bolivia
Argentina Panama Nicaragua Honduras
Guatemala El Salvador Costa Rica Belize
Spain (DUH..) Puerto Rico Dominican Republic
Cuba Mexico

As 13% of the US population is approximately 39 million people, that would mean that the entire Spanish speaking population of the world is little more than the population of the United States. Considering the list of countries calling Spanish their mother-tongue (see the list above), I was actually surprised that the number wasn’t a lot higher!

United States — Population: 301,139,947 (July 2007 est.).

Yet, despite little more than one tenth of this population speaking Spanish, it seems more and more businesses in conjunction with our ever-placating Government are determined on making the Spanish language have equity with English. I’m sorry if what I am about to say offends you, but this really irritates me.

This situation is becoming more compounded over time. It goes against defending one’s democratic rights when clearly decisions of national importance with far-reaching consequences are being made not by the people and not for the people.  What kind of country are we leaving for our grand children to inherit? One could theorize that it will not be long before road signs all across America will be bilingual and our schools (and not just the school curriculums [Ed. or is that curriculi?]) will become bilingual too.  This is not alarmist, nor is it racist! It holds water!

With so many places in the world speaking Spanish, why on earth do we need to make America’s second language Spanish? (unofficially or otherwise). Why does America even need a second language? If 50% of the population spoke Spanish today, or even 30% for that matter, and we were still pushing English as the primary language, I could see there being issue with that. I am all for democracy and fairness by proportional representation. However, 13%? Clearly someone in power needs to get some balls of their own and make a stand before this country transitions so damn far there is no turning back.

It frightens me just how comfortable and happy people ‘seem’ to be, even in my own neighborhood, in allowing this to happen. Young parents especially, positively encourage their children, (backed by the teachers who teach them and the schools they attend) to learn Spanish almost like we’re preparing for an inevitable takeover. Are we?  Hardly a day goes by when I am out and about that I don’t see some young mother trying to get their two year old to learn “Vámonos” or count to ten in Spanish, because Dora the Explorer says so. Its not just Dora on TV these days either, its also Diego, Noddy, Nina & Star, Dragon Tales and numerous other characters, shows and presenters popping up more and more frequently on childrens’ TV.

Much of this is because our Government offers financial grants to program developers whose shows contain a “minimum” amount of ethnic educational content (by ethnic they actually mean Spanish) and consequently many childrens’ TV shows that require additional funding in order to be made and aired would not be able to do so without this additional Government financing. The proviso being that they must meet the ethnic criteria laid out in the rules of their funding.  A good example of this is the cartoon Dragon Tales which originally aired as an all-English production but is now half  hispanic.

The bigger picture appears to be a subversion of our culture as a whole. Encouraging children through targetted programming to  learn Spanish at an early age is a great way to expand their overall learning and cultural awareness. I’m all for this when choice is part of the equation.  The problem however is that it is becoming so prevalent and driven that it can no longer be considered a choice.  Parents and children are subtly being programmed to believe that not only is it politically acceptable and socially encouraged to learn Spanish but,  more worryingly, it is slowly becoming an unwritten requirement.  Learning Spanish as a choice is a wonderful thing, as is learning any new language, the concern I raise here however is that choice is slowly being taken away, whether you realize it or not.

The United States of America was founded by people from many cultures and countries but as a developing western nation English was chosen as its main language. So it has been ever since. Surely until such time as the population ethnicity swings largely away from English speaking peoples, should it not it remain that way? Is that a racist comment? Of course not. Its a fact.  If more than 85% of a country’s population speaks one language, that language should be considered the national standard.

I have only lived in the USA for a decade and clearly English as a language is a benefit to me personally. However, I am irked by the political cow-towing that is taking place to hispanic minorities.  It is becoming more than an appeasement and more in line with an agenda.

In a fundamental way, this all seems an insult to America’s true heritage! A smack in the face to the founding fathers and all the struggles that have brought America and its people to this point in time.

We hear “America is a melting pot” all the time, but any first generation or second generation family or individual from western Europe or the old Eastern Block will tell you that once they made it here, they kept their family customs and traditions for themselves, for their families, something to be shared and treasured with each other in the privacy and comfort of their own homes, places of worship, and community gatherings. Outside of these however, they made the effort to become part of American culture, to blend in, to work hard, to learn and speak the language of the country that welcomed them with open arms, to pay their taxes, and even try for a piece of the American dream.

I mean no disrespect to the hispanic community but questions I would ask are:

Q. Why is this not good enough for you?
Q. Why should America feel obliged to adopt your language as part of its culture?
Q. What have you done to deserve this right?
Q. What makes Spanish speaking peoples better than all those that have come before you?
Q. What makes you believe that your rights should be pre-eminent over theirs?

England has a huge population of Indians and Pakistanis. The single largest concentration of Indians and Pakistanis outside of their own countries. Does the England Government get behind making Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Punjabi, Sanskrit or Bengali its second language? Do the English peoples even think they should have a second language? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding NO! If you emigrate to England you are free to wear whatever you want to wear, free to speak freely and free to follow whatever religion or doctrine you want to follow but you cannot and will not change the national language because it simply would not be permitted!

So what went wrong over here? Sadly I do not have the answers and I am not sure who does. Like a rolling stone, some things are very hard to stop once they gain momentum. For myself, I will never learn another language under societal pressure. If I choose to learn Spanish (or any other language) it will be because I want to.

So why did I call this rant “Press 1 for English..”? Well if you haven’t figured it out for yourself it is a sideswipe at the ever growing (and increasingly irritating) automated voicemail response evident on phone answering systems of corporations all across America. Push 1 for English? You have got to be joking? If it says anything it should be “Push 1 for Spanish”! There should be no pushing ANYTHING for English! It should BE in English! With only 13% of the population being hispanic, there should be no question that English is an option!

America is not California. Sorry California but you made a mistake a long time ago. Perhaps you should have given more thought to taking that land from Mexico in the first place? I can certainly see why Mexico might want it back. However, just because 33%+ of your population speaks Spanish should in no way represent the other 49 states.

If you are not a social butterfly or a political sheep, I want to hear from you and get your’s and others’ comments and thoughts.


Heritage – Who Cares, You’re American!

February 25, 2007

If there’s one thing that I have come to loathe since living in America its that every time I meet an American for the first time, they feel an innate need, nay driven even, to expound on their personal and family heritage with me. Its quite often the conversation starter that immediately follows the ice-breaker “what part of London are you from?”.

I have not spent more than 2 minutes in the presence of an American yet without them telling me what generation of American they are. What country or countries of origin they, their parents and their grandparents hailed from. Even those who have since become my best friends have rolled this one out on me on at least one occasion. A typical conversation will take the following form:

“I’m 3rd generation American you know! My mother is Italian and my father is from Scotland. Hey that makes us countrymen right? My grandfather on my father’s side was from Poland and my grandmother on my mother’s side was half German and half French. (I’ve usually tuned them out at this point but being polite I feign interest, perhaps even dropping in the odd ‘Oh really?’ or ‘That’s great!’). I guess that makes me half Italian and half Scottish… or is it a quarter Scottish, a quarter Polish, a quarter German and a quarter Italian? Oh wait.. I forgot French! Oh but we don’t like the French do we!”

Now the reason I switch off is not because I am rude. On the contrary, I am a true people person and if you met me in person you’d know this. No, the reason I switch off is because after 10 years I’ve probably had this exact same one-sided conversation play out at least a thousand times.

Here’s where I usually let them take a breath and I ask my questions.

Me: “Where were you born?”
Them: “Ohio.”
Me: “OK, and where were your parents born?”
Them: “Well my father was born in Pittsburgh and my mother was born in San Diego”
Me: “So you’re American then”
Them: “Well yes but…”
Me: “And your parents are American also”
Them: “Well yes but I’m quarter Italian, quarter this..quarter that.. (you get the idea)

Now for me as a Limey, here’s the paradox. For a nation that is so nationalistic and full of self pride, why would almost all of its subjects choose to harp on about the fact that their ancestry is anything but American? Its almost as if to call yourself a full-blooded American – born and bred, is a dirty word. Yet, you will never find a country that waves its own flag harder than the United States.

America is the best and worst of all things. It is truly the world’s greatest nation at this moment in world history. A true world power. That alone would make me believe that if you were born here, you would want to call yourself “American” first and foremost, especially to foreigners such as myself. And yet, when I question an individual that feels this need to proclaim their diverse ancestry to me and I ask them “why they don’t just call themselves ‘American’ I am either met with confusion or in some cases actual hostility.

Every great world power that has ever been started out a pure ethnicity, but by its very nature, a world power must continue to grow and expand in order to survive and not stagnate and as such expands its physical and political boundaries to draw in other cultures and ethnicities. Look at any of history’s great super powers, the U.S.S.R, the British empire, the Roman empire, the Egyptian empire, the Mongolian empire etc. etc.

In heritage terms, the only thing that separates an American from an Englishman is time. If I were to be pedantic, I could argue that I am part Roman, part Saxon, part Norman, part Goth, part Viking etc. but centuries and millenia have molded the English in to one unified nation. I was born in England, therefore I am English, and proud of it.

So, to all Americans I say this, if you were born in America, you are American! Be proud of it. This nation is a great one and although it seems at times that the world is against you and you are alone in your struggles, you are not alone and you need not mask your pride in your birthright. So cast off the chains to past heritage and association. You can be proud of your ancestry without having to try and be anything else but what you are, an American. So, move forward as Americans and stop telling Limeys like me that you’re anything but pure blooded American!