Oct 24, 2006

Speaking the "Wrong" Language

Hat tip : to Daithi' of The Gaelic Starover and this post:
Ní Bheidhmid inár dTost

This blog is in response to the two or three emails I get every damn week from some of my fellow whitefolks about how bad it is that some people speak Spanish in America (the Horror!)

A little more insight on "Language Rights" from a completely different perspective can be gained from reading the Celtic League article linked below. Looking at Ireland and the sectarian strife instigated by the argument for English only speaking there may perhaps open the eyes of the anti-Mexican crowd.

Celtic League article

In Ireland, an Irish teacher was arrested for speaking Gaelic instead of "the Queen's English". Maybe you are well-versed in the situation in Ireland, maybe you are not- But either way, that story says a lot about how intolerance provokes violence and hate. It reminds me of the sectarian violence in Iraq- Sunni vs. Shia. You know, I can no more tell a Sunni from a Shia than I can a Palestinian from a Jew, or than I can an Irish Protestant from an Irish Catholic.

And it's too damn bad that all these groups can be incited into hating all those differences about each other so easily, while they blind themselves to how much they are alike. Sunnis and Shias didn't allow themselves to hate each other for a long while before the American invasion. It doesn't take long for political upheaval and war to quickly boil away man's humanity to one another.

There's a lot of enmity in the history of ALL the races, religions, and creeds of humanity across the globe. Some people can discard the centuries old primitive hate that they are 'supposed' to have for their racial enemies. Some people can see such bigotry for the counter-productive bile that it is. They can see the pain it ends up causing for everyone, including for their own people, over and over.

But, then - there are the ones who inflate these differences by voicing their irrational discord against those differences. They magnify the differences with rhetoric and vitriol. They begin actively avoiding those other people. And as they separate themselves from those people whom they desperately want to blame for problems in their environment, they separate themselves from the reality of those people. They allow themselves to believe their own worst fears about those people, and lose sight of our shared humanity.

The proper way to end this hate breeding is by rational discussion with those on both sides of the fence. It is to not allow separatism. It is not to avoid the other side, but to go to it- to understand that there is a common ground and to actively find it!

The Irish should know better. The Iraqis should know better. Americans DO know better.

Now. After 200 years of intense racism and segregation, we finally know better. Or I thought that we did.

Over the course of my life, I have seen (in West Texas, even) racism slowly slipping away. I see growing tolerance for people of other races and religions- I see people even talking about racism less and less. But, now- like the situation in Iraq- people who are in fear divide themselves. People who fear losing their "power" or their "control" draw lines. Racist white people start getting afraid that Latinos are overtaking the population of America. They fear for the control that white men have had in the past. They stop thinking about Americans as a whole and start thinking instead about White Americans. Where does the division end? Do we return to the whole English based superiority complex over the Italians, French, and Irish?

I believe that Americans as a whole DO know better. But that can change in a blink of an eye. Iraqis have lived in relative sectarian peace for a long while. There were no major Sunni-Shia troubles like we witness now. Where does this new aggression against Mexican-Americans lead? Where else can it possibly lead? In the past six years, I see more racism instead of less. It's the atmosphere of fear and mistrust that rebuilds the walls that Americans tore down in the past fifty years.

So to all the Americans who see fit to throw a fit about Mexican-Americans speaking Spanish: Please take a moment to see past your differences and put aside your racism. It can only lead to more and more hate. You may not think it is racist, or isolationist on your part. But it is. And bringing it up, over and over again- is NOT Helping. Maybe you think that if everyone spoke English your life would be somehow more rewarding? Maybe you believe that America should be homogenized and dumbed down by forcing everyone to give up their customs and traditions for something that YOU relate as "American" because it is your tradition and custom? That is ridiculous. Native Americans are the only ones who should have any claim on "American" traditions and language.

America was a melting pot in 1776. It took a lot of cultures to make America what it is. And America's strength IS ITS DIVERSITY. If it was up to those who want to isolate differences and eradicate them, then we would all wear the same colors, dye our hair the same color, eat the same foods, watch the same tv shows, and read the same books- so that we would all be more alike. I don't believe this would make our country any stronger or more honorable.

There is enough ridiculous hate in the world. There is enough division. Our world's very survival -for the benefit of ALL of mankind's children- relies on our tolerance and our empathy for one another. Put away your petty differences, for the sake of us all.

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