May 19th, 2006


A Modest Proposal


The Senate of the United States yesterday voted to establish English as America's "national" language. To the dismay of the measure's chief proponents -- many of whom, I cannot refrain from noting, themselves display no sparkling command of the language -- cooler heads prevailed, and the new phonus-balonus measure will probably* not end such horrifying phenomena as schoolchildren improving their chances to learn, y'know, English, thanks to multilingual instruction.

One hardly knows where to begin. The cheap shots on all sides are so easy. (That said, there are a few that I haven't seen mentioned: e.g., have you noticed how many nativist, English-only Amurrricans go absolutely out of their minds when they visit a foreign country and briefly have trouble locating someone who speaks English? -- "briefly," since in most countries on Earth you can find somebody who speaks English within about fifteen or twenty minutes in any human settlement that has indoor plumbing, and the reason you can is because their people get TAUGHT FOREIGN LANGUAGES, the way we apparently wish our own idiots WOULDN'T?)

Look, there's plenty of misinformation to go around, on all sides. For example, you've probably heard some multilingual-ed type repeat the urban myth that the U.S. came within one vote of making German the "official" language. Sorry, folks -- great story, but untrue. We can thank Ann Landers for that one; details are here:

Anyway, I was gonna rant about how the sole superpower on Earth won't remain a superpower at all unless it gets a more nuanced understanding of other cultures in one hell of a hurry...but, let's face it, everyone with operating gray matter knows that by now; that's one big reason why the Texas Taliban are stuck in the low-30% range, and "America's heading in the wrong direction" is at like 69%. So instead, let's put it this way:

Rather than voting to establish English as the official language of the United States, HOWZABOUT THE SENATE VOTE TO MAKE THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, INCLUDING THE BILL OF RIGHTS, THE LAW OF THE LAND?! Then we could have, you know, no more torture, no more gulags,** no more illegal searches and more TOTALITARIAN FOREIGN LEGAL SYSTEMS masquerading as AMERICAN JUSTICE.


93 93/93 -- AJ

* It's not actually a law until a reconciled Senate-House bill is signed by the President. But you knew that.
** If the term "gulag" seems unduly harsh, consider this. There were four suicide attempts by prisoners in our offshore Guantanamo Bay prison camp yesterday. There was a riot there yesterday, too -- when guards intervened to stop the fourth from trying to kill himself: apparently the prisoners attempted to keep them at bay while their friend hanged himself. Some of us suspect this says something about the conditions there...and that's the prison camp we know about. Details, from AP & Reuters -- though of course blacked out from American cable news networks, near as I can tell, JUST like the Russians and Chinese and North Koreans and Iranians and all the really cool dictatorships we apparently so ADMIRE do -- on dailykos, right here: