I Ain't Namin' Names, But...

7.12.2006
Ore : 2:29 PM

She's a sweet old lady. Aide at a nearby elementary school. A frequent patron, staunch supporter -- in fact, a friend of the library.

And she's taken umbrage at the mention that I'm trying to expand my Spanish-language movie selection.

"They ought to be learning English," she says, with not a little bitterness and vehemence.

Oh, and did I mention she adores Sean Hannity, thinks Ann Coulter is a laff riot, is a devout Bibliolatrist, and is sure W is just peachy-keen?

At any rate, as a professional I make sure my response is measured and politic -- certainly, it's non-committal. "Oh, they are. I mean, the citizenship stuff and ESL books are just flying off the shelves."

She accepts this with a less-than-enthusiastic grunt, as the language barrier is clearly not her main quarrel. But she lets the subject drop.

(Two things to get out of the way regardless: the vast majority of my Latino patrons speak perfect English, and the ones who don't still make a good-faith effort. Second, even if the town was as white as a spray of edelweiss on snow, it still wouldn't hurt anyone to have available for his or her viewing pleasure the ouvre of Pedro Almodóvar.)

* * *


Folks, here we have a significant minority of American white folk yet again failing to deal with reality. The question before us is not, "Can/should we be a bilingual country?" That was settled long ago, as for centuries now much of Los Estados Unidos has been a country with two languages -- particularly in California, Texas, and the Southwest. The real question is "how shall we as a society comport ourselves in the face of this truth?" Do we take the high road, the path of open-mindedness and inclusiveness? Shall our conduct towards one another be informed by dignity and equanimity? Dare we rise above and be larger than the petty problems and pains that inevitably follow when two cultures must occupy the same geography?

Or do we just continue to ignore reality, along with all the very real problems currently facing America, just for the fleeting visceral satisfaction of going at each others' throats -- of continually showing up at our neighbors' doorsteps armed with pitchforks and torches?

One thing is crystal fucking clear. Too many of us could never be bothered -- would never deign -- to learn even a little demotic Spanish. That's just too much to ask.

posted by teh l4m3 at 2:29 PM | Permalink |

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Comments for I Ain't Namin' Names, But...
Maybe official bilingualism's path in the United States will sort of be like the country's approach to the Metric system: all around, yet not spoken of. Ever.

What about your little brother's books, fucker?

los gringos son apenas balompié asustado asumirán el control béisbol como el deporte nacional de la opción.

I wil never understand why speaking a language other than English is an affront to America/Jesus.

What are you saying, Teh?

That she doesn't like brown people?

Cuz I think that's what you're saying.

: )

How many "sweet old ladies" does it take to screw in a fascist, totalitarian state?

Welcome back, Teh, e'en though you really hadn't gone anywhere.

Next time, remind her about the english subtitles.

They have to learn somehow, right?

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