Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 2, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

OH SAY CAN YOU SCREECH....I'm sure with Atrios on this one:

Of all of the recent fake controversies the Spanish Star-Spangled Banner one was actually the one which put my jaw on the floor and left it there. We are really living in stupid times.

I'm keenly aware that most of the world doesn't share my fondness for charts and graphs and sober analysis. Swift boaters win a lot more arguments than the Brookings Institution. But the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish? Just how idiotic have we become? It's enough to make you fear for the future of the Republic.

Needless to say, Michelle Malkin has been right at the epicenter of this particular lunacy. But if you're interested in a more considered take on the history of our national anthem, Ralph Shaffer and Walter Coombs have a brief rundown in the LA Times today.

Kevin Drum 12:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (148)

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Comments

Thomas Pynchon has a lovely take on the development of that song in his historical novel Mason & Dixon ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 2, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Waiting for the Mandarin version

Posted by: Matt on May 2, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Are they singing in Spanish Spanish or Mexican Spanish? Because if they're Europeans, it's okay.

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Given the choice between having someone sing it in Spanish or not singing it at all, I'd rather have them sing it in Spanish. It's a case of "making the pie higher."

Posted by: sc on May 2, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's an entirely preditable flap, akin to the flag-burning amendment that continues to rear its ugly head in every election cycle. In both cases, they confuse the symbol with what the symbol represents.

Posted by: PaulB on May 2, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Yesterday Ted Kennedy said he thought it should be sung in English, "period".

Thanks, Kevin, for helping us identify the lunatics amongst us.

Posted by: a on May 2, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Next up for the wingnuts: invading Hispanic churches and insisting that all prayers and the Bible be in English.

After all, if English was good enough for the good Lord Jesus, it's good enough for all of us.

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on May 2, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

We may be losing our heavy industries to China, but nobody manufacturer controversies like the US of A.

Posted by: craigie on May 2, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'm still eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the "Drum-roll" re the common good! --Greg

Posted by: anrig on May 2, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

What's so wrong with wanting AMERICANS to speak ENGLISH Kevin? Are you one of those pc multiculturalists who think it's WRONG to do that?

Posted by: Al on May 2, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Stupid as it is, this latest manufactured outrage still doesn't top the "War on Christmas" for sheer idiocy and contrivance. I suspect that will remain the Gold Standard for horseshit for a long time to come (no small feat, when pretty much any administration statement rates at least an Honorable Mention).

Posted by: sglover on May 2, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see why it's a "stupid" controversy. The "Nuestro Himno" thing is emblematic of the cultural and linguistic balkanization that has taken place in the country over the past few decades with massive (mostly illegal) immigration from Latin America.

Why you and Atrios seem to think it's "stupid" to be worried about this, I guess you'll need to explain. I think such worrying is entirely rational. Lots of bad things can happen when a country becomes linguistically divided.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent letter on this topic in the LAT today. Last sentence:
"The anthem is too sacred, they say, to be rendered in anything other than its original language. Very well, then I look forward to hearing all these demagogues recite the Ten Commandments in Hebrew."
-- Richard Murphy

Posted by: craigie on May 2, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think we will do better if we understand what motivates the other side rather than prove that what they are saying makes no sense from our motivations.
Some people fear the possiblity of the United States changing from an English-speaking nation to a bilingual one.
They have the right to want to maintain their culture and should be allowed to express that desire.
Yes, that desire is often racist, but that does not invalidate the underlying desire.
More broadly, with globalization and technological change, the world is changing fast enough to make many people uncomfortable. I would guess that actually most people feel at least a bit queasy about some aspect or another of the change.
Liberal values will be more effective if we address that unease rather than use the unclear, at times even disfunctional ways that unease is expressed as a reason to ignore or invalidate it.
On the other hand, liberal values and we who hold them have been ignored and invalidated enough in recent years that it is natural to feel that we must make stronger stands for them and take every victory possible.

Posted by: Kevin on May 2, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Stupid as it is, this latest manufactured outrage still doesn't top the "War on Christmas" for sheer idiocy and contrivance. I suspect that will remain the Gold Standard for horseshit for a long time to come (no small feat, when pretty much any administration statement rates at least an Honorable Mention).

Perfectly put. Right on.

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

My we have lots of trolls today don't we?

But this reminds me of a story. In the 1968 World Series, Ernie Harwell (God bless him every day) invited Jose Feliciano to sing the National Anthem in Detroit's Tiger Stadium (RIP). Feliciano, who is Peurto Rican sang a soulful version (in English) with just his acoustic guitar. The Tigers, baseball and the network were deluged with complaints, apologies were made and Harwell was forever stripped of his task of coordinating the national anthem. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose (oops, the trolls are going to freak out because that is French!!!!)

Posted by: Gord Brown on May 2, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think we will do better if we understand what motivates the other side rather than prove that what they are saying makes no sense from our motivations.

What makes folks bigoted jingos?

Hell if I know - maybe "Al" could help us out with that one.

Posted by: GF on May 2, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

An argument about the star spangled banner being sung in spanish is not an argument about the star spangled banner being sung in spanish. Duh. It's an argument about multi-culturism and melting pots and cultural balkanization. The song is the touchstone that makes it a concrete issue. Don't get stuck on the surface issue.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 2, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon wrote: "Why you and Atrios seem to think it's "stupid" to be worried about this, I guess you'll need to explain. I think such worrying is entirely rational. Lots of bad things can happen when a country becomes linguistically divided."

And if we were such a country, you might have a point. According to what I've read, by the third generation, all Hispanic immigrant families speak English, a statistic that is right in line with statistics from other immigrants past and present. Your "worrying" is, in fact, entirely irrational, as is the idiotic flap about The Star Spangled Banner.

Posted by: PaulB on May 2, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the whole reaction to the idea of it being sung in Spanish was rather overblown.

However, the version that got much press and ballyhoo added lyrics and was written by someone who has a background in radical left politics.

Along with the rallies being on MayDay and the high profile of ANSWER activists, it made me wonder if the whole issue is being hijacked, the way a lot of the antiwar protests were before the invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: Nemo Ignotus on May 2, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to ask the President for his position on the national anthem sung in Pig Latin and Ubby Dubby.

Posted by: Alden on May 2, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

>Lots of bad things can happen when a country becomes linguistically divided.

That's just crazy talk.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on May 2, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough, sober analysis is becoming rarer and rarer here and giving way to Atrios-level red meat throwing.

Perhaps Kevin Drum could provide some of that sober analysis and tell us exactly why he supports foreign citizens marching in our streets demanding rights to which they aren't entitled. He could tell us why he supports foreign citizens attempting to shut down our cities and harm our economy.

Perhaps he could tell us what happens five years, ten years, twenty years from now if the Democrats get the amnesty they want. How many millions more illegal aliens will come here? What will their demands be?

Perhaps he could tell us the effects on our political system if we give amnesty. Won't we be saying that our laws mean little?

Perhaps he could tell us what sort of message we would send to the world by giving amnesty. Won't we show the world we aren't really a superpower but that we've been forced to capitulate to foreign citizens who've infiltrated our country and marched in our streets making demands? What sort of message will that send to China, Iran, Russia, North Korea, and other countries?

Related: the California state senate Democrats support foreign nationals marching in our streets, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin supports illegal aliens marching in our streets, and Links between the Democratic Party and the Mexican government.

And, How to reduce illegal immigration.

Posted by: TLB on May 2, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see why it's a "stupid" controversy. The "Nuestro Himno" thing is emblematic of the cultural and linguistic balkanization that has taken place in the country over the past few decades with massive (mostly illegal) immigration from Latin America.

If it isn't the Irish Vatican lackies it's the goddam Pagan Chinee or it's the swarthy chianti-swilling Papists or it's the Yiddish-jabbering Bolsheviks or it's the Saigon spring roll peddlers or its the "Star Spangled Banner"-singing Mexicans -- and not one of them wants to be blend in and be a real American.

Now you aliens get off my goddam lawn! (After you landscape it, of course.)

Posted by: sglover on May 2, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Does this remind anyone of gay marriage?

A supposedly "sacred" institution that is constantly "desanctified" by the mainstream (roseanne's rendition of the anthem, 50% divorce rate), but the conservatives claim it is actually some minority group (mexicans, gays) that is dishonoring this timeless institution?

Ugh...

Posted by: Brian on May 2, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce the Canuck: That's just crazy talk.

Bwa! Well, quite a few bi/multilingual nations have had rather a better time of it than y'all have.

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I know I still sing God Save the Queen in the original Elizabethan English.

Posted by: SavageView on May 2, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's an argument about multi-culturism and melting pots and cultural balkanization. The song is the touchstone that makes it a concrete issue. Don't get stuck on the surface issue.

As you say, duh. But we're not the ones actually getting stuck on the surface issue, are we? We're the ones making fun of the stuck ones.

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Chicago Tribune actually published they lyrics to Neustro Himno.

There are large additions in..*gasp* English.

It's time to make a difference the kids, men and the women/Let's stand for our beliefs, let's stand for our vision/What about the children los ninos como P-Star

These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws.

See this can't happen, not only about the Latins.

Asians, blacks and whites and all they do is adding

more and more, let's not start a war

with all these hard workers,

they can't help where they were born.

This is a significant change to the text.

I have no problem with the Star-Spangled Banner being sung in English/Spanish/Esperanto/Klingon/whatever. I do have a problem with a British champagne socialist peddling an altered version to make himself a fast buck as part of what looks to me like an organized campaign by vulgar Marxists to hijack another issue.

Posted by: Nemo Ignotus on May 2, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

TLB ejaculates --

Oddly enough, sober analysis is becoming rarer and rarer here and giving way to Atrios-level red meat throwing.

Good to know that irony hasn't died yet....

Perhaps he could tell us what sort of message we would send to the world by giving amnesty. Won't we show the world we aren't really a superpower but that we've been forced to capitulate to foreign citizens who've infiltrated our country and marched in our streets making demands? What sort of message will that send to China, Iran, Russia, North Korea, and other countries?

Um.... Maybe that we're still a place that people want to come to, rather than flee from?

I'm curious -- where do you live? How many immigrants are you acquainted with? What's the source of this clinical paranoia, that makes you choose terms like "infiltrate", "capitulate", etc?

Posted by: sglover on May 2, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's an argument about multi-culturism and melting pots and cultural balkanization.

But the arguments about multi-culturism and melting pots and cultural balkanization aren't really about all that, are they? The arguments are about white males being able to maintain their privileges and prerogatives, at the expense of others.

Posted by: Wapiti on May 2, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

WHAT I REALLY HATE IS ALL THE MARCHING WITH FOREIGN FLAGS! I MEAN, THESE SO-CALLED IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR MEXICAN FLAGS, THEN THERE'S THE ISRAEL DAY PARADE AND THAT JEWISH FLAG, AND ST. PATRICK'S DAY AND THE IRISH FLAG, AND GOD FORBID ITALY GETS INTO THE WORLD CUP, BROOKLYN LOOKS LIKE PALERMO ... (frothing continues)

/snark

Posted by: David in NY on May 2, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

G'day:

Does anyone know where this version of the Star-Spangled Banner came from? Who ordered it? Why? Who thought it necessary?

Jake

Posted by: Jake on May 2, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Just wanted to quibble about Kevin's complaining that most people don't like charts and graphs and sober analysis.

Don't know about sober analysis, but I do know that graphs and charts are very popular. Millions of powerpoint users and front page of USA today every day. Because people process information differently - lots of people "get" something faster with a graph.

Also, just because someone is brutal doesn't mean that they don't know what they're talking about. ie Atrois might be determined - but I wouldn't cross him on facts.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on May 2, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Yesterday Ted Kennedy said he thought it should be sung in English, "period"."

Huh, I guess I agree with (*hic*)TK. Well wonders never cease.

Posted by: Lurker42 on May 2, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Seemingly, it appears many believe that Mexicans should not to be allowed any celebration of their heritage...we reserve that right for the Irish on St. Patricks and the Italians on Columbus Day to name a couple. The irony is that they are being criticized for wanting to sing a song celebrating the U.S., yea that's just not acceptable.

Those who think that race has nothing to do with the immigration isue might want to take another look.

more observations here:

www.thoughttheater.com

Posted by: Daniel DiRito on May 2, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Believe it or not, I'm with Nemo on this ...

The guy who's doing it is a Brit making a fast buck on the controversy.

Now ... you wanna do a rap version or add lyrics -- aesthetically, I have little problem with it (save as a matter of personal taste). Hell, *nobody* will beat Hendrix's version for sheer balls.

But turning it into a pseudo Michael Jacksonoid "We Are The World" star turn for a bunch of mid-tier rappers is, well, kinda exploitative.

And even though I hold nothing sacred about a stupid, unsingable English drinking song (what's with that octave-and-a-half range, anyway?) -- I can see TO A POINT where the angst is coming from on behalf of the foaks who attatch sentimental value to at as the signal of the beginning of a ballgame.

If an American Hispanic did it, I'd have no problem with it whatsoever.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 2, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Glad to see Jose is still around. Glad Ernie Harwell is still around. Glad the Tigers won in '68.

Posted by: David in NY on May 2, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Hendrix version should be the official one. So much easier to sing.

Posted by: artcrit on May 2, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ted Turner started all this, by colorizing all those old movies. Why oh why can't they leave things as they are?

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 2, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Good timing Mr. Drum. Yesterday I was googling my past comments and saw that I had used an epithet to describe Ms. Malkin almost exactly a year ago and that Ms. Malkin used my comment to complain about Washington Monthly's Political Animal. I admit being embarrassed to discover my comment was communicated to the blogosphere.

I would like to apologize to Ms. Malkin, and especially to Mr. Drum and The Washington Monthly for making a rash comment in their comment forum that was then used against them.

I do not like Ms. Malkin's opinions. The US is a free country, and people are free to sing the national anthem in any language they desire. I am also free to think, say and write what my opinion of Ms. Malkin is, but I would prefer my opinion not be used to disparage others I respect.

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Seemingly, it appears many believe that Mexicans should not to be allowed any celebration of their heritage...

What? Huh? Ever heard of Cinco de Mayo? It's our newest excuse for drinking. Hell, they're having a Cinco de Mayo night at the local Elk's Lodge here in central PA. Polka land. You know your culture has made it when your holiday becomes another excuse for americans to get likkered up.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 2, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Spanish should be required in all schools, every year. I hate the idea of a multilingual society. I think it is divisive. But that ship has sailed. Any parent who doesn't insist on this is doing a great disservice to their children.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on May 2, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Cute comments above, but no one at this site - including Kevin Drum - seems interested in grown-up analysis of this issue.

Here's some additional questions for Kevin:

1. What happens if those protesters don't get what they want?

2. What's the bottom line on Drum's/the Dems' immigration proposals? How many millions will come here each year, broken down by country of origin, skills, status, etc.? One estimate had the high figure of Kennedy-McCain leading to a U.S. population of 500 million by 2050. Exactly how many immigrants/illegal immigrants do the Dems want to bring here?

3. What would happen if we were forced to deport 1,000,000 illegal aliens over the next six months? What might happen? Would they resist? If they resisted, how many lives and how many billions of dollars would we lose?

I've asked the last question at Reason, at Cathy Young's site, and IIRC at Marc Cooper's site. They just don't want to answer it.

Could we please have some serious commentary on this issue for a change?

Posted by: TLB on May 2, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know about sober analysis, but I do know that graphs and charts are very popular.

I used to have a button that read, "We have charts and graphs to back us up, so fuck off." I wonder what happened to that? There were so few places I could wear it...

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Does this remind anyone of gay marriage?"

They can sing it in 'lisp'

----------------------------

We need a partial citizenship. If you are a partial citizen, then you have to sing the first stanza in government gobblygook, otherwise you are free to express the remaining stanzas however you like.

Posted by: Matt on May 2, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Official Finnish version:

Oi te koitossa huomenen nttek sen,
mik illalla ylpeytt nostaen liehui,
lipun juovat ja loiston sen thtsien?
Nehn intoa toi, sota julma kun riehui.
Valot taiston ne nyttivt: Viirimme on
yh vartiopaikalla voittamaton!
Thtilippumme vielk nhd nyt saan
yll vapauden maan, yll urhojen maan?

Tuolta loitolta, usvista pimeyden,
tuhon tuottaja, vihamies, uhkaapi, surmaa.
Mik lausuhan, kohoten korkeuteen
sinun silmiisi sihkyy ja mieltsi hurmaa?
Thtilippumme nt, valo voittanut on,
se on hulmuten auennut aurinkohon!
Yh saakoon nyt loistaa se kunniassaan,
yll vapauden maan, yll urhojen maan!

Ja nyt miss se vaaniva joukkio lie,
joka veremme, henkemme halusi vied?
Sen on tytynyt kulkea tappion tie!
Thtilippu ei sortoa, pakkoa sied!
Pako nielee ja tuonelan synkeys sen,
joka sille on uhmaa ja vihollinen!
Ja se hulmuten loistavi kunniassaan,
yll vapauden maan, yll urhojen maan!

Jalot miehet kun taistoon ky puolesta maan,
thtilippu heit' ainiaan voittohon kantaa.
Mehn kansaksi nousimme johtaminaan.
ikikiitoksen siit me tahdomme antaa!
Meill' on turvana Luoja, ja lippumme vie
meit eespin, kun meill on oikea tie!
Ja se riemuiten loistavi kunniassaan
yll vapauden maan, yll urhojen maan!

Posted by: kostya on May 2, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see a breakdown by age for a poll on this issue. I'm guessing, that just as for gay marriage, it's older folks that cling to the notion of this being an outrage.

But on the other hand, I'd say that we liberals (foo on the term "progressive") should tread carefully on this and immigration issues. It's obvious conservatives are looking for this to be the wedge issue, while at the same time having it both ways (hiring illegals at businesses and at homes).

Posted by: K on May 2, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: *nobody* will beat Hendrix's version for sheer balls

Hear, hear. And since Jimi was in the 101st Airborne, if anybody complains we can say that they hate America's veterans.

Posted by: alex on May 2, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Michael7843853 G-O in 08!: Spanish should be required in all schools, every year.

That's a joke, right? No. Ok, I insist that in respect of my heritage, Slovenian be required in all schools, every year. Oh, and make sure everyone knows where Slovenia is (hint, it's not Slovakia).

Posted by: alex on May 2, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Is there an official Swedish chef version?

Posted by: K on May 2, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Dear god, just imagine what would happen if we became a nation where people were fluent in more than one language! We might actually have people who could follow the news in other countries! That would be tragic. Do you REALLY want to have neighbors who can tell you what Al Jazeera is saying? Friends (but just social friends) who can explain what's happening in France? Colleagues who can provide actual insight on what Chavez is talking about? Imagine the chaos!

How could we bomb people who speak the same language as our children's playmates, or launch airstrikes against the hometown of our co-workers' mother? Foreign policy would completely collapse!

Thankfully, sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling Na Na Na works in any language.

Posted by: Gin Go on May 2, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

The worst thing about all this is that The Star-Spangled Banner sucks. It's just an awful awful song on every level. The "lyrics" are not lyrical, the music is stentorian and melodramatic, and the combination is just terrible. Go ahead and translate it into goddamned Sleestak language for all I care, it's still complete and utter dreck. I'm pulling for changing the anthem to "America the Beautiful." Now with 99 44/100% less war imagery!

Posted by: Rick on May 2, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

There ought to be a law that all U.S. Presidents speak English. Look at all the problems caused by having one that doesn't.

Posted by: Dave on May 2, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Finnish is such a funky-lookin' language.

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dave: There ought to be a law that all U.S. Presidents speak English. Look at all the problems caused by having one that doesn't.

Nah, it's better when he doesn't speak at all. That's the only time you know he's not lying.

Posted by: alex on May 2, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

TLB's brain fever continues --

1. What happens if those protesters don't get what they want?

I expect they'll form a peasant army and converge on the capital, sacking vineyards and Wal-Marts on the way. Round about the time they reach the Beltway, we'll probably see the fearsome Mexican army mounting blitzkrieg assaults into Texas and California.

But you still haven't answered my earlier question: Where does your paranoia come from? What happened to you?

Posted by: sglover on May 2, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still laughing that Kevin Drum, the guy who posted conspiracy theories about the Dick Cheney hunting accident, thinks he has a penchant for "sober analysis".

Posted by: BigRiver on May 2, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Was Teddy Kennedy drunk when he said the national anthem should be sung in English??

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on May 2, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Having an official version, though, has never meant that it was the only version. The next time a would-be singer desecrates "The Star-Spangled Banner" on amateur night at the local ballpark, will those who today express outrage at the audacity of a Spanish- language version be as incensed? "

I think people do get pretty upset when its intentionally butchered(Roseanne Barr) or when stuff is added to the simple melody. So the answer is yes. So just sing it the way its supposed to be sung, in English.

Posted by: Chad on May 2, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing sweeter to Republican Strategist's ears as a Democratic argument over a foisted wedge issue. Singing the National anthem is NOT THE FOCUS of this debate, Immigration reform is the focus of this debate. As soon as we let the discussion get away from the plight of hard-working tax-paying families, then hope for real reform is dimmed.

Republicans would rather criticize the sounds that a person makes while honoring their country, rather than consider the dignity of calling a country their own. Goes to show you just how bigoted the right-wing base has become.

Posted by: Jon Karak on May 2, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I know some Slovene, alex! Damned complicated language, but a piece of cake next to Hungarian.

Posted by: David in NY on May 2, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency Kenneth: Was Teddy Kennedy drunk when he said the national anthem should be sung in English??

I think he's been sober since about the Willie Smith rape incident. Are you drunk when you make posts four minutes apart under different handles and mistakenly believe you don't look like a psycho?

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know Ted Kennedy's reasoning, but I'm guessing it's similar to mine.

I have no problem with the bluesy, folksy, salsa, acid rock, polka, etc., etc. versions of the Star Spangled Banner. As long as it is respectful (yes, looking at you, Rosanne Barr.) The performer has his own take on the anthem, bringing his own experience, traditions, and talent to it and invites us to be a part of that. What could be lovelier or more American?

But if you sing it in a different language (and I do speak Spanish, btw) you exclude a lot of people--and not just English-speaking Americans; a lot of immigrants speak another language besides Spanish. The anthem should unite, not divide.

As for changing the words, no way. Look, the anthem is a bear to sing, it's packed with confusing lyrics and violent images. If we'd had any sense we'd have chosen "America the Beautiful." But we didn't. This is part of our heritage and tradition, and as a young country, we can't afford to jettison it so easily. It is OURS, with all its faults. We all struggle through it--some more than others--and that's part of the experience, too.

So bitch and moan and complain all you want and then stand up and sing along as best you can. And if somebody can't quite make the final "free" and ends up screeching it--so what? This is definitely a time when enthusiasm and sincerity trumps natural ability.

Posted by: LAS on May 2, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Paul B. wrote:

"According to what I've read, by the third generation, all Hispanic immigrant families speak English, a statistic that is right in line with statistics from other immigrants past and present."

Linguistically, the difference between this wave of immigration and previous ones is how monoglot it largely is. Yes there are Koreans and Haitians and whatnot, but the vast majority of our immigrants (legal + illegal) are Spanish-speaking. This brings up the possibility of linguistic ghettoization -- Miami and L.A. are good examples.

Again, I hope you're right and that Spanish in the year 2100 is spoken in southern Florida or California about as much as Swedish is spoken now in Minnesota, i.e. not much. But I think the situation is different now in important respects, and that we're right to be concerned about creeping bilingualism.


Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

We would never have had to deal with this problem if the Spanish hadn't sat on their asses when the residents of Plymouth and Jamestown converted Diferencias Sobre el canto de "La Dama le demanda" by Antonio de Cabezn into a popular drinking song.

Posted by: toast on May 2, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

See, everyone loves "America, The Beautiful," but I think it's silly and insipid and quite needlessly religious. The melody is BOH-ring. I like "TSSB"--it's a wild ride that demands some energy of us, and I dig the big finish.

Posted by: shortstop on May 2, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Phillips says he saw Bush singing it during a campaign stop in 2000.

Posted by: PW on May 2, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

The reason that many conservatives are overly ignited by this issue (and apparently Ted Kennedy too - weird) is that they have a special RESPECT for the anthem, and a deep fondness for hearing it at sporting events, etc. It is symoblic for the country that they love.

I realize that is difficult for most of the people on this website to understand.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on May 2, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon wrote:
Again, I hope you're right and that Spanish in the year 2100 is spoken in southern Florida or California about as much as Swedish is spoken now in Minnesota, i.e. not much. But I think the situation is different now in important respects, and that we're right to be concerned about creeping bilingualism.

Intelligent post.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on May 2, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon said:
"Lots of bad things can happen when a country becomes linguistically divided."

Care to give some examples? Just about every country in the world is "linguistically divided", assuming you mean "lingusitically diverse". Most other countries have dialects that aren't mutually intelligible, or nearly so. I don't see much of a crisis if people want to speak Spanish.

You also said:
"This brings up the possibility of linguistic ghettoization"

You do realize this is true of every non-British Isles immigrant group from the past? Go to a Chinatown or Little Italy.

Posted by: g-rant on May 2, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another point for Kevin to ponder:

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 55% of Mexican-Americans think of themselves as Mexican first.

What exactly does that imply for massive illegal immigration from Mexico?

If Kevin Drum and the Democrats are going to support illegal immigration, they should be able to defend it. The fact that they won't even discuss tough questions is tacit admission that they know they're on the wrong side of the issue.

Posted by: TLB on May 2, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The Anthem was sung in Navajo at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque this year. We'll just have to send those bastards back to.... Oh, wait. Never mind.

Posted by: Jim Perrin on May 2, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "What's so wrong with wanting AMERICANS to speak ENGLISH Kevin? Are you one of those pc multiculturalists who think it's WRONG to do that?"

Yeah, Kevin -- when're all them ileegles you love goin' ta learn themself some English jus' like real 'mer'cans like Al'n'me here?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 2, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Grant wrote:

{"Lots of bad things can happen when a country becomes linguistically divided."

Care to give some examples?}

Sure: constant social friction (Canada, Belgium), secessionist movements (Canada, Belgium, Basque and Catalonian Spain), partition (Czechoslovakia), civil war (Yugoslavia).

Yes there are other issues in these countries, too -- I'm oversimplifying, admittedly -- but language matters in all these cases. And all other things being equal, it's much better for a country to be monlingual than bilingual. Bilingualism is just a headache and a hassle and can lead to worse; some countries deal with it well (Switzerland, Finland), but it's never a good thing in and of itself, and we shouldn't import it.

I'm not saying it's good for a person to speak only one language; I myself speak Spanish and German (not great, but OK). But what's good for a person isn't necessarily good for a country, and bilingualism in a country, if you have a choice, is something to be avoided, not actively courted.

Grant wrote:

{You also said:
"This brings up the possibility of linguistic ghettoization"

You do realize this is true of every non-British Isles immigrant group from the past? Go to a Chinatown or Little Italy.}

Little Italy in New York is no more, as far as being Italian-speaking. Virtually all the Italian immigrants have linguistically assimilated by now (even Paulie Walnuts can't say more than a sentence or two!).

But this doesn't mean that future generations of Mexican immigrants will successfully assimilate linguistically. As I said, there are important differences: overall size and duration of the immigration wave; multiculturalism being the regnant philosophy instead of assimilation among U.S. elites; proximity of Mexico to the U.S. compared to, say, Italy; reinforcement of linguistic ghettoization by immigrants from other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America; Mexican irredentism; and so on.

In short, I don't think we can say that because previous groups eventually gave up their languages for English, that the current wave of Latin Americans will also do so. That remains to be seen, and no one knows for sure. Ergo, we are correct to be concerned about this creeping bilingualism; even if you disagree, you must concede that it's not "stupid" or "entirely irrational" to be concerned about it, as posters here have claimed.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

TLB, still making with the jitters:

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 55% of Mexican-Americans think of themselves as Mexican first.

What exactly does that imply for massive illegal immigration from Mexico?

I'm guessing that, 150 years ago, immigrants from Dublin thought of themselves as Irish first, and that 50 years after that, immigrants from Naples described themselves as Italians, while those from the Jewish Pale called themselves Poles and Ukrainians and Galicians.

What is it about you nativists that makes you refuse to learn the history of your own country, the one you like to believe you're "defending"? Here's a term you can google up, to start your education: "Know-Nothing".

Posted by: sglover on May 2, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jim Perrin: "The Anthem was sung in Navajo at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque this year."

I've also heard it sung in Hawaiian at an anniversary commmemoration of the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Oahu, held recently at Kaneohe Marine Base Hawaii (which was known as Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on 12-7-41).

Afterward, I heard many attendees -- incluuding many veterans and their spouses, most of whom were probably over 60 years of age -- say that it was the first time that they heard the National Anthem sung in another language. With a few cautious exceptions, most also admitted that they found it to be a very moving tribute.

Posted by: Al's Cousin Gomer on May 2, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sglover writes:

"I'm guessing that, 150 years ago, immigrants from Dublin thought of themselves as Irish first, and that 50 years after that, immigrants from Naples described themselves as Italians, while those from the Jewish Pale called themselves Poles and Ukrainians and Galicians.

But Sglover, do you not agree that there are important differences between previous waves of immigrants and the current one, as outlined in my post above? Specifically: Mexican irredentism in the American Southwest; U.S. proximity to Mexico, which lets Mexican immigrants hold on to their culture more easily than, say, turn-of-the-century Polish immigrants; multiculturalism vs. the assimilationism of previous eras; and the sheer numbers and percentage of overall immigrants who are Spanish-speaking, as opposed to the many languages of previous waves.

I don't think we can just say that previous groups assimilated and so this one will as well, because there are important differences between this wave of immigration and previous ones.

Maybe it will all work out OK, as you predict; but maybe it won't, maybe the difference I've listed above will stand in the way. But I think it's something we clearly need to be concerned about.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I thought it was true that among hispanic and latino immigrants, the third generation, grandchildren of immigrants, spoke English only. Might be exceptions in areas of New Mexico which have been traditionally Spanish speaking.

Posted by: David in NY on May 2, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't there something about a vote way way back at the beginning as to what language to pick for the US and we almost voted for German instead?

Heck, I'm pushing to go back to Latin. Now THERE is a language for oratory....

Posted by: tzs on May 2, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I understand all the comments about the "creeping need for Spanish." Don't understand however why we shouldn't become as bilingual a country as possible. After all, it's not like Spanish is hard to learn. (Try Chinese or Japanese. Gulp.)

Posted by: tzs on May 2, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

David,

That is mostly true, yes. The problem is that language can be reacquired by future generations if the conditions are right. With the constant inflow of Spanish-speaking immigrants, a successful Spanish-language renaissance could flourish among young people in the Southwest, especially if they're influenced by Mexican irredentist claims.

Imagine this situation: California, the year 2050. The state is 60% people of Mexican descent, many of whom speak Spanish (though the vast majority would speak English as well). There are already lots of Spanish-language TV and radio stations around the state.

Now, wouldn't the preconditions exist in that situation for a successful partition of California by Mexico? Majority of the population; historical grievance; linguistic, cultural, and probably economic, bifurcation.

It'd be an ugly scenario. I don't know for sure it would happen like that, but the preconditions are all there. Shouldn't we be thinking and talking about the possibility? I keep hearing "You're crazy, it can't happen here," but those are famous last words...

Posted by: Ergon Freely on May 2, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Oh boy, most of you folks don't get a big danger facing you. (Ergon does.) This could lead to language politics, and a very, very particular language, too. When immigrants came to multicultural Toronto, they lost their language by the third generation. For example, the Italian and Greek grandkids who go back for visits are a joke to the Italians and Greeks. They no speaka the language, despite what they put on to the rest of us.

Hispanic speakers are not going down the road of losing their language. They will keep their language. And their numbers are enormous. I think the Hispanic language politicians are going to do their work a la Quebec. If so, yuck.

I was born in Quebec. Although my father from Ontario learned French and even got his degree from Laval University, the neighbours called us les anglais. Then we moved to Ontario, where the neighbours called us the frenchies. Note the friction. This is how the average Joes of the world deal with subtleties.

I liked going to the ballgames in Detroit and seeing the average Joes with their hands on their hearts singing the national anthem. It worked for me. I like American english. I don't like language politics. And I see language politics in one of the two words in "Our Anthem." I get the message: it is theirs, not yours. That is the only message you will ever hear from these folks: ours, ours, ours, us, us, us.

I think you got a problem -- if you let language politics in the door. Immigrants are great, but language politics is narrow minded, prejudiced and intolerant.

Posted by: Bob M on May 2, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why you and Atrios seem to think it's "stupid" to be worried about this, I guess you'll need to explain. I think such worrying is entirely rational. Lots of bad things can happen when a country becomes linguistically divided.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 12:31 PM

Yes, because Switzerland, Belgium and Canada are such hellholes. We should know better and try to emulate places which have their share of minorities and immigrants, but understand the importance of keeping their own national language central and dominant. Like Russia.

More seriously though, you later said:
Linguistically, the difference between this wave of immigration and previous ones is how monoglot it largely is. Yes there are Koreans and Haitians and whatnot, but the vast majority of our immigrants (legal + illegal) are Spanish-speaking. This brings up the possibility of linguistic ghettoization -- Miami and L.A. are good examples.

Again, I hope you're right and that Spanish in the year 2100 is spoken in southern Florida or California about as much as Swedish is spoken now in Minnesota, i.e. not much. But I think the situation is different now in important respects, and that we're right to be concerned about creeping bilingualism.

The only piece of evidence you offer for "creeping bilingualism" is the unsupported assumption that more of today's immigrants speak a common language than immigrants of previous generations, which I wouldn't accept without seeing some numbers on it. Spanish-speakers are a majority of immigrants these days, of course, but how strong a majority, really? And how do we know there wasn't a decade or two when Yiddish-speakers or Italians dominated immigration? And even if it's true, why would it prevent them from assimilating any more than others have? It's hard to see how the decision of an Italian-American to move out of Little Italy would be affected by the existence of Chinatown.

But even of "creeping bilingualism" is real, you don't explain what's wrong with it. Sure, there are places which have both linguistic division and civil strife. But considering how many linguistically divided places there are without major problems, and how many monolithic countries are really fucked up, there's no obvious reason to believe it has to do with language.

Posted by: Cyrus on May 2, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

tzs,

You're talking about the Muhlenberg vote, but no, it's mostly an urban legend. Here is a good summary:

http://www.watzmann.net/scg/german-by-one-vote.html

As for why we should not become a bilingual country, I gave many answers upthread, including social conflict and possibilities of secession or partition. Bilingualism within a nation's borders is sometimes dealt with OK, as in Finland and Switzerland, but more often leads to a lot of conflict (as in Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia and Spain) that can lead to the eventual breakup of the country in question.

In other words, it's not something you'd want to import, given the choice. I could see how someone might want to make an exception in the case of a threatened minority language, like Basque or Welsh in Spain and the U.K. But there are lots of Spanish-speaking countries out there, so there's no impetus for us to import Spanish from that angle.

It's better if we stay a monolingual country.

Posted by: Ergon Freely on May 2, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, well, here's your list of cases we need to worry about:

Sure: constant social friction (Canada, Belgium), secessionist movements (Canada, Belgium, Basque and Catalonian Spain), partition (Czechoslovakia), civil war (Yugoslavia).

Of these, the Czechoslovak and Yugoslavian scenarios seem quite distant from anything likely to develop in this country. Otherwise, I'm not aware of any "social friction" in Canada, Belgium or Spain that's appreciably worse than, say, the tensions between blacks and whites that have existed here for generations.

Posted by: sglover on May 2, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon: "And all other things being equal, it's much better for a country to be monlingual than bilingual. Bilingualism is just a headache and a hassle and can lead to worse; some countries deal with it well (Switzerland, Finland), but it's never a good thing in and of itself, and we shouldn't import it."

This is one liberal who agrees with you, to a certain point.

Our own historical experience in this country does demonstrate that it actually takes several generations for an identifiable non-English speaking immigrant group to gradually cede the regular use of its native language to the use of English.

We should never be so naive to think that we can magically legislate the myriad number of diverse ethnic groups into instantaneous compliance with Ammerican society, simply by adopting "English only" provisions into our local, state and/or federal statutes.

However, any serious study of U.S. history must also conclude that the one common experience each of our ancestors shared with one another was the necessity of both learning and using the English language in the course of their respective daily interaction with one another. The English language is arguably the one common thread amongst us that has held the fabric of our nation together for so long.

I do believe that it is possible for the United States to gradually develop and evolve into a society in which most, if not all, American citizens and residents are bilingual. That being ssaid, if that society to thrive and indeed prosper, every citizen or resident needs to first be fluent in English, which is our country's de facto language of business and commerce.

Therefore, we might start by amending current education policy, to mandate that all high school granduates be fluent in both English and one other language of their choosing as a requirement for graduation.

The English language is surely a significant factor that both contributes to and maintains our national sense of unity. But the adoption of a common-sense and pragmatic education policy that actively encourages and properly promotes bilingualism is also undoubtedly necessary, if American business is to successfully compete in the emerging global marketplace.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 2, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon wrote:
"but language matters in all these cases."
Only so far as language is wrapped up in cultural identity. If it wasn't language, it'd be something else, since our languages and dialects are key to our personal and cultural identities.

Assuming you are right, that the current Hispanic immigrants may form a large enough bloc that refuses to assimilate to the extent that previous groups have and can't be pressured to, then so what? That's a democracy. Speaking Spanish is not the issue any more than eating taquitos or wearing sombreros. We are not a uniform culture as it is now. North vs. South, rural vs. urban, African-American vs. Jewish vs. White vs. [pick your self-identified group of choice].

Under your scenario, we will have to deal with two likely linguistic outcomes a) we have Spanish as "national" language alongside "standard" English or b) we have Hispanic English alongside "standard" English.

I just don't see (a) being likely as English is so dominant in this country, even now in places with a lot of Spanish speakers because being a monolingual Spanish speaker is a huge handicap to upward social mobility (same as for other lingusitic groups). You would need a situation where being monolingual didn't hurt your chances of entering the middle class. I think that's an unlikely scenario, unless there are some radical changes.

I see (b) being the most likely option, although that will bring it's own linguistic discrimination issues, but would be more palatable to the general population.

Posted by: g-rant on May 2, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Cyrus wrote:

"Yes, because Switzerland, Belgium and Canada are such hellholes."

That wasn't my point; of course those countries aren't "hellholes." But Canada and Belgium may not exist with their current borders in a couple of decades, and the reason for their breakup with be largely one thing: bilingualism.

Switzerland and a few other countries handle multilingualism without breaking apart, but my overall point was that, if a country has a choice, and all other things being equal, a wise nation would not actively select bilingualism over monolingualism. It leads to conflict; the conflict may or may not be manageable, but it's still worse than having no lingusitic conflict. We should therefore avoid such future conflict by insisting we remain an English-speaking nation.

Cyrus wrote:

"The only piece of evidence you offer for "creeping bilingualism" is the unsupported assumption that more of today's immigrants speak a common language than immigrants of previous generations, which I wouldn't accept without seeing some numbers on it."

I can't believe you really need evidence from me for Spanish's gains in the U.S. over the past four decades -- I'm assuming you've heard "press 1 for English" as often as I have. But here are some numbers: http://azbilingualed.org/AABE%20Site/AABE%20NEWS%202003/1_in_3_foreign_born_residents_in.htm

"Almost 46 percent of the 31 million immigrants in the United States in 2000 hailed from Latin America, including El Salvador, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. About 23 percent came from Asia and 16 percent from Europe, the report said.

Camarota said other immigrants, specifically Germans and Italians, dominated the pool of foreign-born residents during much of the last century, but *no single country had ever held a larger share than that of Mexico*." (my emphasis)

You also ask how we know there wasn't "a decade or two" when Italian immigrants didn't dominate. Sure there was; but only a decade or two, not four and counting, which is what we have now. And those immigrants had an ocean to cut them off psychologically from the old country; our Mexican immigrants now do not.

Again, it is too simplistic to just say that previous waves of immigrants -- Italians, Poles, Germans -- linguistically assimilated, so therefore our current wave of Mexican immigrants will as well. There are many key differences, such as size of the wave, duration of the wave, Mexican irredentism, geographical proximity, and our current multiculturalism vs. the previous era's assimilationism.

Do we have a problem on our hands? We might, or might not. But to casually sweep the possible problems aside by simply pointing to previous waves of immigrants who assimilated ignores the very real differences between those waves of immigrants and our current one.


Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

sglover wrote:

"Otherwise, I'm not aware of any "social friction" in Canada, Belgium or Spain that's appreciably worse than, say, the tensions between blacks and whites that have existed here for generations."

You haven't heard of the serious secessionist movements in Canada (Quebec), Belgium (Walloons) or Spain (Catalonia, the Basque Country)? Language is a key part of all three. It would not surprise me if one or more of those countries' borders changes in the next decade or two; if we wish to avoid the same fate, we would be wise to avoid casually importing bilingualism into America.

As Belgium's wikipedia entry states:

"Belgium's political institutions are complex; most political power is organised around the need to represent the main language communities."

We don't want that here, do we?

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Grant wrote:

"Assuming you are right, that the current Hispanic immigrants may form a large enough bloc that refuses to assimilate to the extent that previous groups have and can't be pressured to, then so what? That's a democracy."

Are you arguing that you'd be OK with, say, the majority Hispanic population in Texas (when it turns majority Latino around 2010) voting to have Spanish be the language of public school instruction in Texas? I can't believe I'm hearing you right -- am I?

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

First, the Star Spangled Banner.

As others have pointed out, it has been translated into a number of different languages, and into Spanish in 1919. To me, the fact that it's been translated is a non-issue. Should it be sung in Spanish? Yes, where the gathering is primarily of people who speak Spanish, perhaps commemorating a particular event such as Cinco de Mayo. Should it be sung in Spanish at, say, a football game attended by many people of different backgrounds? No, for such occasions it needs to be sung in English, the official language of the United States.

I would also favor changing the national anthem to America the Beautiful, as it is more singable and I prefer the images (purple mountains' majesty). This comment is from a trained singer. I CAN sing "O'er the land of the freeeee" with no difficulty on that final F, assuming the key of B flat. A cappella. Also, having perfect pitch, I don't need a starting note. But I digress.

Second. U.S. becoming bilingual. Ain't gonna happen. Sure, there will probably be more Spanish spoken because that's the language spoken by the greatest number of people who aren't native English speakers. But there are also many other languages spoken by many other people. All of whom are trying to learn English. ESL classes are overflowing. English will remain the only official language.

Also, I live in Tucson. My observation based upon many many encounters with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, is that people who are 70 or above speak more Spanish than English. People who are 40 to 60 are essentially bilingual. People under 30 speak some Spanish but speak more English than Spanish. At all ages, the Spanish spoken tends to be for mundane sorts of things. For more complex subjects (I work in a hospital), people usually switch to English.

Native Spanish speakers moving to the U.S. are perfectly aware that they need to learn English and most of them at least make some attempt. Keep in mind that people vary in how easily they learn a language once they are adult.

"Imagine this situation: California, the year 2050. The state is 60% people of Mexican descent, many of whom speak Spanish (though the vast majority would speak English as well). There are already lots of Spanish-language TV and radio stations around the state.

Now, wouldn't the preconditions exist in that situation for a successful partition of California by Mexico? Majority of the population; historical grievance; linguistic, cultural, and probably economic, bifurcation.

It'd be an ugly scenario. I don't know for sure it would happen like that, but the preconditions are all there. Shouldn't we be thinking and talking about the possibility? I keep hearing "You're crazy, it can't happen here," but those are famous last words..."

Ergon: this is purely speculative. So what would you do about this? I don't feel the need to say what I would do because I don't think this will happen.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on May 2, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

do you not agree that there are important differences between previous waves of immigrants and the current one

The previous immigrants were not indigenous to the Americas. Otherwise, no I do not agree.

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wolf:

Good post. I like getting immigration perspectives from people who live in border states since they're so often informed by experience.

Yes, my scenario is speculative, but possible. What would I do? First, I'd end illegal immigration, period. I'd also end dual citizenship -- there are all kinds of monstrosities you hear about like people voting in both American and Mexican elections. Next I'd stigmatize the irredentist rhetoric we hear from some on the U.S. Southwest; and I'd also build a wall along the entire border.

That'd be a start!

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't you agree, Hostile, that there are major differences between this group of immigrants and previous waves, as elucidated by me several times upthread? You say you disagree, but do not say why.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I guess my feeling is that the US has enough problems coming down the pike that mono-lingual vs. bi-lingual is going to be a mouse's fart in a windstorm, IMO. I may be underestimating the effect. I think what everyone is wondering is whether the number of people "coming over the border" is enough of a flux that rather than assimilation, there will be a change in the US. (And maybe, if enough of an influx, a secessionist movement in parts of the US.)

I see the US tearing itself to bits along other lines much earlier than any linguistic ones develop. And as a polyglot, it peeves me to no end to witness the absolute insularity of the average American and insistance of Only English. It's almost as if knowing another language makes you "un-American." Certainly with the "Know-Nothing" party in charge now, competence in anything seems to be denigrated.

(What ever happened to us being a country with common sense where being competent is rewarded above ideology?)

Posted by: tzs on May 2, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

tzs,

Well, I agree with you that bilingualism isn't the only or the greatest problem in the country right now, but that doesn't mean it's not a serious problem that we shouldn't address.

I think more and more people are indeed starting to wonder exactly that: if the people coming over the border these days, especially the illegal ones, are by and large interesting in assimilating or not. I think the recent demonstrations replete with Mexican flags and "THIS IS STOLEN LAND!" signs opened some eyes.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

It is at least ironic that people will voluntarily move to a country where the dominant language is English, and persist in using a European language that was forced upon their ancestors by military conquest. It's doubly ironic when those immigrants are from Mexico, where the oligarchic descendents of the invaders require that all public education be conducted in Spanish, which is not the natural language of about 50% of the students -- but in the US they require dual language education; some people want the native speakers of Native American languages to be taught mathematics in Spanish on both sides of the border.

Still, a Spanish song about a battle between two English speaking combatants is a treat. Do they wave the Mexican flag while singing about the "star spangled banner"? What next, "From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" in Spanish?

Posted by: republicrat on May 2, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's just wonderful to see our GOP friends (and a few pandering Democrats as well) finally ignoring the insignificant distractions of multiple wars, rising oil prices, and a snowballing al-Qaida threat to focus on the REAL THREAT to US security-- yep, those durned brown-skinned Mex'cans and their little Spanish national anthem ditty. Folks, if you wanted one single incident to show how Michelle Malkin and the wingers had truly jumped the shark, this is it.

Idiots. There are already many foreign-language versions of the US National Anthem since it's the national song of a very important country. Heck, why don't we protest the English version, since after all the anthem was composed by Francis Scott Key back when the US was fighting a war against the British (the War of 1812)? By the same token, other popular anthems like those of France and Eastern European countries have versions in numerous languages. It's really not unusual, and if people want to hear the anthem in whatever language, they'll hear it. Everybody's happy.

Michelle Malkin, short of getting a brain transplant, needs a long hard lesson in citizenship herself. Spanish has been a major language of what's now the United States well before the US was even founded in 1776. Spanish was spoken, in fact, in the two oldest cities of the current USA (St. Augustine and Santa Fe). Spanish is as much a language of the USA as English. In fact, in the SW and Florida in particular, if anything it's been the primary language for many centuries. Most countries in the world are more than happy to have their citizens pick up multiple languages, it's pathetic that people like Malkin huff and puff about the same thing occurring here.

Posted by: Blue State Tommy on May 2, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Lots of bad things can happen when a country becomes linguistically divided."

Ergon, the vast majority of countries in the world are multilingual, and most do just fine. Language balkanization is just one more obsessive fetish of the wingnuts, it's one of the least common causes of fratricide and conflict. Remember, the US Civil War, by far our nation's bloodiest and bitterest conflict, was fought between two groups of predominantly Anglophone Protestants on both sides. Obviously, the "common language" of English was not such a unifier here, was it?

A far greater source of "bad things" for a country is the propensity to engage in idiotic resource wars for idiotic and greedy companies that can't see past their own profit margins. Like, oh, our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (the latter turning into a losing conflict in large part due to the former). Anyone who gets exercised about this Spanish national anthem non-issue is an idiot, period.

Posted by: Blue State Tommy on May 2, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Blue State Tommy,

I was against the war in Iraq, and still am, and am against war in Iran. I don't think bilingualism is the most serious threat to the United States, but I do think it's important enough of a problem that we should talk about it rationally, without name-calling.

You wrote:

"the vast majority of countries in the world are multilingual, and most do just fine. Language balkanization is just one more obsessive fetish of the wingnuts, it's one of the least common causes of fratricide and conflict. Remember, the US Civil War, by far our nation's bloodiest and bitterest conflict, was fought between two groups of predominantly Anglophone Protestants on both sides. Obviously, the "common language" of English was not such a unifier here, was it?"

Right, but I'm not saying linguistic balkanization is the only reason wars are ever fought, or even the most common reason. The U.S. civil war is a good example of a war fought for non-linguistic reasons, and there are many others.

But linguistic balkanization is a reason why *some* wars are fought, and why *some* countries break apart, and it is a source of serious social tension in almost every country where it exists, your reassurances that most multilingual countries "do just fine" notwithstanding.

My point is that, if a country has the choice to make to be monolingual or bilingual, it should choose monolingualism, since that takes a source of societal friction --and possible partition -- off the table.

We can certainly choose which path to take here -- fewer than one in ten people in the United States speaks Spanish as their first language.

If we choose monolingualism, as I think we should, then we will eliminate a source of future conflict. If we choose bilingualism, I think we are going to have problems ahead, including increased irredentist movements in the Southwest. Our policies and attitudes will determine which way we go. When you balance the risk-reward factors, I just don't see why we wouldn't opt for a one-language nation.



Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Some people fear the possiblity of the United States changing from an English-speaking nation to a bilingual one. "

Kevin, if there are those upset about the "possibility" of the US becoming bilingual, that's just too damn bad, b/c it already is. When the US fought that incredibly ugly war with Mexico in 1846 and annexed half of Mexico's territory after the war (along with all the Mexicans already there), the US effectively became bilingual in the process of absorbing such Latino lands. Remember, almost all the former Mexican territory was bilingual upon US annexation as required by the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and other accords between the two countries. Even if a bunch of yahoos tried to disregard the treaty in its aftermath, that does not invalidate the treaty's force over a century later-- Spanish has to be respected in those territories, period.

If the Mexican War wasn't enough, there's also the Florida annexation from a couple decades earlier (Spanish also in use and respected as part of the terms). Moreover, if there's still any doubt, it's completely removed by US actions of the Spanish-American War, particularly the annexation of Puerto Rico. The US is and has long been a Spanish-English bilingual country, it's just becoming a little more obvious today.

Again, I couldn't care less. Most nations are multilingual, and in any case, widespread knowledge of Spanish if anything is a big boost to the US in drumming up business with the vast Latin American market. Furthermore, we in the US are very lucky since our two major languages are so similar.

Yo mismo hablo el espanol sin problemas porque es tan semejante que ingles y tan consistente en su gramario y pronunciacion. Spanish is so similar to English, and so blessedly simple and consistent in its grammar, vocabularly, spelling and pronunciation, that it's incredibly easy to learn, so it's not difficult to gain fluency in it. In fact, Spanish is much more tailor-made to be a global language in many ways than the rather rough-hewn and inconsistent English, which is why these days, even many people in southeastern and southern Europe are preferring Spanish as a lingua franca to English. Honestly, we have little to complain about here. We lucked out in having Spanish as the other major language of our nation.

Posted by: Blue State Tommy on May 2, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

"According to what I've read, by the third generation, all Hispanic immigrant families speak English, a statistic that is right in line with statistics from other immigrants past and present."

PaulB, I agree with your overall point, but be careful about that classic "by the third generation" assumption, it muddles a very complicated issue. Immigrant waves have been highly variable in this and non-English language retention has actually been quite strong over many generations through many communities. In much of Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin, even *today* there are large communities where German is actively used and spoken. Jewish immigrants are fervent about their kids learning Hebrew. Furthermore, in much of the SW, Spanish has been used continuously for over 5 centuries.

Now, most immigrants to the USA do learn some English at the outset, especially by the second generation. But I think that "by three generations" assumption is problematic, because it's usually interpreted to mean "monolingually English-speaking by the third generation," and this just isn't correct. While most will speak English to varying degrees (usually pretty well) after several generations, there are many 5th, 6th, even 7th-generation communities in the US in which the primary language is a different tongue. Again, this often has sound historical reasons (e.g. the Spanish language's centrality in the areas brought into the US through the Mexican War and Spanish-American War), or is a product of remarkably solid cohesion and settlement patterns (e.g. the continuous use of German in Pennsylvania and many Midwestern states). Multilingualism is a basic part of the fabric of the USA as anywhere else.

Posted by: Blue State Tommy on May 2, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Blue State Tommy,

I think you're playing up the Spanish language's role in American history a bit much. For example, your statement that "Spanish is as much a language of the USA as English" is not defensible.

Anyway, the point is that we have a choice to make now, by our policies and attitudes. Will we become a bilingual nation, or remain a monolingual one, as we were before the 1965 immigration act?

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who gets exercised about this Spanish national anthem non-issue is an idiot, period.

Red herring, mon ami. The real issue is the claim that it is "Our" Anthem, not the language it is in. It's ours, ours, ours and we are not you, you, you.

This is the beginning of a great unpleasantness for America.

Sorry, I've lived this crap in Canada and it just ain't worth it. You Repubs hate the Dems and you Dems hate the Repubs. Wait till the Hispanic language politicians get under your skin.

Posted by: Bob M on May 2, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Tommy writes:

"If there are those upset about the "possibility" of the US becoming bilingual, that's just too damn bad, b/c it already is."

Again, Tommy, you're giving the Spanish language too much credit here. The U.S. is heading towards being a bilingual nation, but we're not there yet, I'd argue. And we can certainly, through policy and attitudinal changes, reverse the course if we choose.

I think we should.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

ergon: "... bilingualism isn't the only or the greatest problem in the country right now, but that doesn't mean it's not a serious problem that we shouldn't address."

Living in Honolulu as I do, I would note that our city's immigrant population is primarily rooted in the South and Central Pacific and Asia. There are not sufficient numbers of them here that would significantly alter the basic structure of our island society.

That doesn't appear to be the case in the Southwest, where immigrant population from Mexico and Central America has grown significantly enough to cause society to address needs and problems resulting from that growth. Projected demographics indicate that the hispanic population will attain a majority within a few decades. You are correct in that we should anticipate possible outcomes from this migratory phenomenon.

I don't have an easy or comprehensive answer to offer, because I'm really not certain about how to first correctly identify and then further define the true scope of the problem -- if, indeed, bilingualism is, as you say, "a serious problem." I would agree that it will eventually become one if ignored completely, addressed improperly or managed obtusely.

There has to be a meeting of the true minds and hearts here, and we must not allow the ignorant and the jingoistic to monopolize the conversation. Certainly the intelligent and compassionate amongst us in this country can somehow fashion a fair and equitable compromise with which most everyone can live.

In that regard, each one of us are influenced by the respective choices we make about the type of society we want for both ourselves and our progeny. Speaking only for myself, I would further offer that the wholesale demonization of entire minority segments of that society by certain political opportunists is neither a credible nor an acceptable approach to this issue.

By being magnanimous in my acceptance of our gradual evolution as a diverse and multi-cultural society, I seek to become a contributing party to the eventual (and similarly evolving) solution.

Conversely, should I simply indulge my own prejudices by drawing the so-called line in the proverbial sand, in all likelihood I will be nothing but a nagging part of a festering and intractable problem.

Ultimately, it's all up to each of us.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 2, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Spanish should be required in all schools, every year."

That's de facto the case in many schools, they use it as a medium of instruction into college. It's for the reason you mention-- schools that don't have this, are shortchanging their kids.

Posted by: Blue State Tommy on May 2, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

OK Ergon, PaulB accurately states what social scientists have discovered: Hispanics are integrating into the US lifestyle faster than any other immigrant group. By the time they are third generation, the only way to determine if they are Hispanic is by their last name. Diet, language, culture are mostly mainstream American.

Ergon, your FEAR of 'linguistic ghettoization' is irrational. Are you afraid of the Cuban ghetto in Miami or the Italian ghetto of NYC or the Irish domination of Boston? If not, why?

You said, "I don't think we can say that because previous groups eventually gave up their languages for English, that the current wave of Latin Americans will also do so." The current wave of Latin Americans are already doing so, yet you cling to the idea mabye they won't.

Mexican irredentism is an irrational fear without any evidence to back it up. Most Mexican immigrants know Mexico is much more corrupt than the USA and have no desire to have any part of the US returned to Mexico. Like me, Mexicans do use the immoral and illegal War of 1848 to point out the US stole a very large part of Mexico and that Mexicans know more about it than most US citizens, but few, if any, expect or desire its return.

Except for the proximity, which is less meaningful in today's world than yesterday's, of Mexico to the US, there is very little difference between Latin American immigrants and Eastern and Southern European immigrants: poor, Catholic, uneducated, and willing to work very hard.

Your partition argument is based on irrational fear. Most partitions in the US were made in order to keep undesirables out, not keep immigrant culture intact.

As I stated above, the US is a free country. We the people are free to speak, write and read any language(s)we want.

There are places all over the US dominated by migrant cultures. Chicago has many places where Polish or some other Eastern European language is dominate. Minnesota has whole Swedish villages that take pride in preserving their immigrant culture. In Little Italy, the ballots are printed in Italian. Your argument is based on fear of the other, but the others are no different than your ancestors.

I loathe the expression illegal immigrant because it dehumanizes. Humans are not, cannot be illegal. Dehumanize them and then you can practice inhuman behaviors. I say open the borders and let labor be as free as capital. Labor should have more freedom than capital in a just world.

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

{1786, Philadelphia}

"Say." DePugh considering. "No wonder there was a Revolution."

"Hmmph. Some Revolution," remarks Euphrenia.

"Why Euph!" cries her sister.

"How not?" protests Ethelmer. "Excuse me, Ma'am,-- but as you must
appreciate how even *your* sort of Musick is changing, recall what
Plato said in his 'Republick',-- 'When the Forms of Musick change,
'tis a Promise of civil Disorder.'"

"I believe his quarrel was with the Dithyrambists," the Revd smoothly
puts in,"-- who were not *changing* the Forms of Song, he felt, so
much as mixing up one with another, or abandoning them altogether,
as their madness might dictate."

"Just what I keep listening for, 'Thelmer," Euphrenia nods, "in the
songs and hymns of your own American day, yet do I seek in vain after
madness, and Repture,-- hearing but a careful attending to the same
Forms, the same Interests, as of old,-- and have you noticed the way
ev'rything, suddenly, has begun to gravitate toward B-flat major?
*That's* a sign of trouble ahead. Marches and Anthems, for Triumphs
that have not yet been made real. Already 'tis possible to walk the
streets of New-York, passing among Buskers and Mongers, from one
street-air to the next, and whistle along, and never have to change
Key from B-flat major."

"Ah. And yet ... If I may?" The young man seats himself at the
Clavier, and arpeggiates a few major chords. "In C, if ye like,--
here is something the fellows sing at University, when we are off
being merry,-- 'To Anacreon in Heaven''s its Name,-- I'll spare ye
the words, lest the Innocence of any Ear in the Room be assaulted."
Tenebrae has invented and refin'd a way of rolling her eyes,
undetectable to any save her Target, upon whom the effect is said to
be devastating. Ethelmer's reaction is not easy to detect, save that
he is blinking rapidly, and forgets, for a moment, where Middle C is.

The Air he plays to them would be martial but for its Tempo, being
more that of a Minuet,-- thirty-two Measures in all,-- which by its
end has feet tapping and necks a-sway. "Here, I say, is the New
Form in its Essence,-- Four Stanzas,-- sentimentally speaking a
'Sandwitch,' with the third eight 'Bars' as the Filling,-- that
Phrase," playing it, "ascending like a Sky-Rocket, its appeal to
the Emotions primitive as any experienced in the Act of--"

"Cousin?--"

"-- of, of Eating, that's all I was going to say ...," hands spread in
gawky appeal.

She shakes her Finger at him, tho' as the Revd can easily see, in
nought but Play.

"And this is the sort of thing you lads are up to," he avuncularly
rumbles, "out there over Delaware? Anatomizing your own drinking
songs!-- is nothing sacred, and is there not but a small skipping
Dance-step, til ye be questioning earthly, nay, Heavenly, Powers?"

"Something's a-stir in Musick, anyway," quickly inserts Aunt Euphy,
"-- most of the new pieces us'd to be one Dance-Tune after another,
or, for the Morning Next, a similar Enchainment of Hymns,-- no
connection, Gigue, Sarabande, Bourree, la la la well a-trip thro' the
Zinnias of Life, and how merry, of course, but 'my' stuff, 'Thelmer,"
-- waving a Sheaf of Musick-Sheets,-- "all is become Departure, and
sentimental Crisis,-- the Sandwitch-Filling it seems,-- and at last,
Return to the Tonick, safe at Home, no need even to play loud at the
end.-- Mason and Dixon's West Line," Aunt Euphrenia setting her Oboe
carefully upon the arm of her Chair, "in fact, shares this modern
Quality of Departure and Return, wherein, year upon Year, the
*Ritornelli* are not merely the same notes again and again, but
variant each time, as Clocks have tick'd onward, Chance has dealt
fair and foul, Life, willy-nilly, has been liv'd through ... "

"As to journey west," adds the Revd helpfully, "in the same sense as
the Sun, is to live, raise Children, grow older, and die, carried
along by the Stream of the Day,-- whilst to turn Eastward, is somehow
to resist time and age, to work against the Wind, seek ever the dawn,
even, as who can say, defy Death."

"A drama guaranteed ev'ry time a Reedwoman picks up her Instrument,
Wick-Wax,-- a Novel in Musick, whose Hero instead of proceeding down
the road having one adventure after another, with no end in sight,
comes rather through some Catastrophe and back to where she set out
from."

"No place like home, eh?" guffaws Lomax LeSpark.

"Doesn't sound too revolutionary to me," declares
Uncle Ives. "Sounds like a good sermon aim'd at
keeping the Country-People in their place."

"That's because you ain't hearing it aright, Nunk. 'Tis the Elder
World, Turn'd Upside Down," Ethelmer banging out a fragment of the
tune of that Title, play'd at the surrender of Cornwallis," 'Tis a
lengthy step in human wisdom, Sir."

*Oh* dear oh dear, beware then," the Revd groans in a manner he has
learn'd, if challenged, to pass off as Stomach distress. Ethelmer
seems dangerous to him somehow, and not only because of Tenebrae,--
toward whom these days he is undergoing Deep Avuncularity, with its
own Jangle of Sentiments pure and impure. Yet, leaving all that out,
there remains to the Boy a residue of Worldliness notable even in this
Babylon of post-war Philadelphia,-- a step past Deism, a purpos'd
Disconnection from Christ ...

"... South Philadelphia Ballad-singers," Ethelmer has meanwhile
been instructing the Room, "generally Tenors, who are said, in their
Succession, to constitute a Chapter in the secret History of a Musick
yet to be, if not the Modal change Plato fear'd, then one he did not
forsee."

"Not even he." His mathematickal cousin DePugh is disquieted.

"My point exactly!" cries Ethelmer, who has been edging toward the
Spirits, mindful that at some point he shall have to edge past his
Cousin Tenebrae. "'Tis ever the sign of Revolutionary times, that
Street-Airs become Hymns, and Roist'ring Songs Anthems,-- just as
Plato fear'd,-- hast heard the Negroe Musick, the flatted Fifths,
the vocal *portamenti*,-- 'tis there that sings your Revolution. These
late ten American years were but Slaughter of this sort and that. Now
begins the true Inversion of the World."

"Don't know, Coz. Much of your Faith seems invested in this novel
Musick,--"

"Where better?" asks young Ethelmer confidently. "Is it not
the very Rhythm of the Engines, the Clamor of the Mills, the
Rock of the Oceans, the Roll of the Drums in the Night, why
if one wish'd to give it a Name,--"

"Surf Music!" DePugh cries.

"Percussion," Brae, sweet as a Pie.

"Very well to both of ye,-- nonetheless,-- as you, DePugh, shall one
full Moon not too distant, be found haggling in the Alleys with
Caribbean Negroes, over the price of some modest Guitar upon which to
strum this very Musick, so shall you, Miss, be dancing to it, at your
Wedding."

"Then you should be wearing this 'round your Head," suggests Brae
quite upon her "Beat," "if you wish to work as a Gypsy." Handing him
from her Sewing-Basket a length of scarlet Muslin, which the game
Ethelmer has 'round his head in a Trice.

"More a Pirate than a Gypsy," Brae opines.

"But just as Romantick, it its way ... ?"

--Thomas Pynchon, "Mason & Dixon" (1997)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 2, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Tommy writes:

{"Spanish should be required in all schools, every year."

That's de facto the case in many schools, they use it as a medium of instruction into college.}

Tommy, again, I think you are playing up the Spanish language's hold here a little bit. In what American public schools is Spanish a required subject? And what American universities teach classes in Spanish?

Hostile, writes:

"PaulB accurately states what social scientists have discovered: Hispanics are integrating into the US lifestyle faster than any other immigrant group."

Paul B didn't write that, hostile, and it's not true.

You also write:

"Mexican irredentism is an irrational fear without any evidence to back it up."

Gee, my first bit of evidence would have to be those "This is Stolen Land" and "Stolen Continent" and "This is Mexico" signs from the pro-illegal immigration marches the past few weeks.

If you do not accept millions of Mexicans marching through dozens of American cities waving Mexican flags and holding such signs as problematic irredentism, then would it take to convince you?

Posted by: Ergon Freely on May 2, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

What ever happened to us being a country with common sense where being competent is rewarded above ideology?)

Wish it were thus, but we are human beings. Such logic has been seldom present.

Instead of calling Ergon names (like nativist), recall, or take, an entry level course in comparative politics. I believe the concept as named by one author was compounding social differences each reinforcing layer of difference builds a more significant set of (potential) problems, e.g.:

Divided by language....no biggie
Divided by language & religionsome concern
Divided by language, religion & cultural identitygot big issues

If divided by language, religion, cultural identity & and major political goals you better have really savvy political elites dedicated to non-violence and full employment with little economic stratification along ethnic lines.

Does the serge in Hispanics mean to above is going to be us? No, not if we do many other things very well.

Posted by: Keith G on May 2, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Just another tempest in a teapot that is not in any way whatsoever about racism, no sir, how dare you suggest such a thing.

There are some people who wake up at night sweating about the prospect of the Southwestern United States being swallowed up by sombrero-clad hordes and reunited with Mexico. Some people believe Noah literally put two of each animal on earth into a boat 5000 years ago and everything else ont he planet drowned (except, mysteriously, all the plants.) Other people think they've been anally probed by aliens.

Nothing we can do about it except have a few laughs at their expense.

It's a nutty country, America, but it's a pretty good place to live and lots of people seem to want to move in and join the party. I say, welcome aboard. First round of Pacifico is on me.

Posted by: ajl on May 2, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

ajl,

So, if you were in charge of U.S. immigration policy, what would it be?

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon:

Get the Hispanics into the Democratic Party.

Enforce existing law and let the GOP cannibalize itself over the issue.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 2, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

"If you do not accept millions of Mexicans marching through dozens of American cities waving Mexican flags and holding such signs as problematic irredentism, then would it take to convince you?"

Dumbshit.

Posted by: ogmb on May 2, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Keith,

Good post, and I agree with you. While most Latin American immigrants are Christian, which won't change the religious makeup of the country, we've still got the other two to deal with, language and cultural identity (which are closely intertwined).

Ergo, if we do wind up in 2050 with 100 million Mexican and Mexican-descended American citizens, primarily in the Southwest, and if they are not well-assimilated at that time linguistically and culturally, then we've got problems, right? This is what I'm trying to address, but a lot of people on this board just seem to casually dismiss this concern -- see ajl's recent comment -- with glib comments about racism.

I really don't see how someone could watch the marches the past couple of months, awash in Mexican flags, and not conclude that we have a major problem.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

then [what] would it take to convince you?

It is true, the continent was stolen by the Europeans, but I am not afraid of a few people carrying signs, however. Let me know when a few million people sign a petition.

PaulB wrote: "According to what I've read, by the third generation, all Hispanic immigrant families speak English, a statistic that is right in line with statistics from other immigrants past and present."

Sorry, I injected the faster bit, which is what I have read social scientists conclude. Still, PaulB is correct and you are incorrect about Hispanic integration.

ajl, may I offer you a Modelo Negro?

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

ogmb wrote:

{"If you do not accept millions of Mexicans marching through dozens of American cities waving Mexican flags and holding such signs as problematic irredentism, then would it take to convince you?"

Dumbshit.}

Not a response to my question. It's this level of argument -- and puerility -- that's causing the anti-illegal backlash in this country.

If you've got a solid point, you should be able to make it without cussing. If you don't have a solid point, then keep quiet.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

"It's this level of argument -- and puerility -- that's causing the anti-illegal backlash in this country."

More dumbshit.

Posted by: ogmb on May 2, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, sorry, I was not referring to a slavic male: serge, good grief!

Posted by: Keith G on May 2, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't see how someone could watch the St. Patrick's Day parades the past couple of decades, awash in Irish flags, and not conclude that we have a major problem.

Go to a Boston pub and you will be solicited for contributing to the IRA.

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile,

Thanks for your clarification. The jury is still very much out on Hispanic assimilation, however, especially in the Southwest. For you to claim victory on this front is like W claiming "Mission Accomplished" in May of '03; there's still a lot that can happen before we can put this one in the win column.

As a poster noted upthread, the fact that the vast majority of Hispanic families speaks English by the third generation is a misleading statistic, since it doesn't tell us how many of them also speak Spanish.

Again, I hope you're right and that Hispanics assimilate into America as well as previous waves have. But I'm more skeptical about it happening successfully than some on this board.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile writes:

"I really don't see how someone could watch the St. Patrick's Day parades the past couple of decades, awash in Irish flags, and not conclude that we have a major problem."

Apples and oranges. Irish-Americans are already assimilated into American life and have been fully so since the 1950s. Irish-Americans have no irredentist claims on American territory and do not speak a different language. The St. Patrick's Day holiday is a fond look back for people of Irish descent, not a demand for the future.

The pro-illegal immigration marches we've seen are a demand by 30 million + Mexican and Mexican-American immigrants and children of immigrants --many here illegally -- for positive economic rights, including citizenship. To compare this to Irish flags on St. Patrick's Day is inapt.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Heck, if it were on my head I'd do the following:

1) Apply the laws that already exist against the employers of illegal aliens.
2) Totally revamp the INS, which is the most dysfunctional piece of the US, bar none.
3) Make it easy to immigrate and become a legal citizen.

And as for the rest of this supposed influx...heh. Shrug shoulders. The US will adapt somehow. Or split up. Nothing we can do about it. Going against historical trends is spitting into the wind. Fulminating about Eeevil Spanish simply means pissing off a lot of people who use it. I'd keep stuff in English for official uses, add Spanish on in areas where the Spanish-speaking population mandates it. Businesses may stick to one, become bilingual, or do whatever they find best for their customers. If at some point enough Americans want to officially become a bilingual country, they can vote it in. That's the point of being a democracy.

Panta rei--everything changes. Adapt, or die.

Posted by: tzs on May 2, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

And Ergon, maybe we've considered the possibilities and decided there isn't as much of a problem as you think. As long as English is used as the standard language, why do you care if people use other languages at home? That sounds suspiciously close to my complaint that speaking other languages made people consider you "un-American."

Heck, in Europe up until relatively recently everyone educated ran around using Latin as the common language. Damn, I'd like to bring that back...

Posted by: tzs on May 2, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

tzs writes:

"And as for the rest of this supposed influx...heh. Shrug shoulders. The US will adapt somehow. Or split up. Nothing we can do about it. Going against historical trends is spitting into the wind. Fulminating about Eeevil Spanish simply means pissing off a lot of people who use it."

Nice to hear you're so casual about the U.S. splitting up, T. Don't think you'll convince many Americans with that kind of talk.

This is the sort of disingenuous argument you sometimes hear from open borders advocates -- we can't do anything about Mexican illegal immigration, so we might as well just sit back and enjoy it. That's Blue State Tommy's tone on this thread, for example.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A $4 billion fence on the 2,000-mile border -- that's a tiny fraction of the hundreds of billions we're wasting in Iraq -- would cut illegal immigration in half overnight, since about half of illegals sneak across.

Then we'd go after employers who hire illegals --already a crime, no new laws needed, just enforce the ones already on the books -- and employers would get the message and stop hiring illegals quickly. Many of the remaining illegals would go home, and, between the wall and employer enforcement drying up jobs for illegals, few new illegals would try to come here.

No expensive mass deportations needed -- just a fence, and enforcement, and you're 80% done.

If you're in favor of open borders, Tommy Blue State, or of high levels of legal immigration (which I favor), then come out and say so, and make your arguments.

But don't tell us that we can't do anything about this influx of illegals, because we can, and it would be a piece of cake, and cost very little, and take very little time. I don't mind people disagreeing with me on illegal immigration, but acting like there's nothing we can do about it just isn't true. We can -- and, in my view, we should.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

tzs writes:

"And Ergon, maybe we've considered the possibilities and decided there isn't as much of a problem as you think. As long as English is used as the standard language, why do you care if people use other languages at home?"

Well, now you're changing your tune, T. Before you stated that you didn't care if the U.S. broke apart along linguistic lines ("heh. Shrug shoulders. The US will adapt somehow. Or split up. Nothing we can do about it.") but now you're saying you also want English to remain official in Hispanic-dominated areas.

Well, what happens if those areas want to change and have Spanish be official? What then? No offense, but you don't really appear to have thought this out.

Posted by: Ergon on May 2, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

So, Ergon, your requirement is not only that they be fluent in English but also forget their Spanish? Becoming as ignorantly monolingual as the average American is your idea of proof of citizenship?
And by the way, can anyone tell me when we are going to start tracking down the tens of thousands of Irish and English illegals in the Eastern seaboard? Because until I see the migra raiding the bars in Southie (where they still collect money for a terrorist organization, yet!) I'm not going to believe it's not racial.

Posted by: Emma on May 2, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile:

That's Negra Modelo :)

Beer, remember, is cerveza.

Feminine noun.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 2, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon:

Well, you're views are saturated in fearmongering.

"Irredentist"? What's that -- a creepy tooth doctor? :)

(I know what it means, duh.)

But it's just fearmongering. And no, we can't just Israelify our border without diverting vast amounts of law enforcement to the task of guarding it -- which we won't do because nobody's becoming cops anymore.

And say we *do* build a wall and ape our good buddy Israel.

What about the coasts?

Never happen, bro. This is all just an election year charade.

And I'm not in favor of amnesty. But the chance to do something constructive about immigration died this year with the Senate bipartisan immigration bill, which I would have supported.

So it's either Tancredo -- or watch the Republicans self-destruct.

Personally, I'm gonna get me a bag o' popcorn.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 2, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon, I think we need more security at the border and more aggressive enforcement on the employer side, coupled with making it easier for people to immigrate legally.

Not that complicated, really. The only real problems are the crime and smuggling at the border and the exploitation of workers who are afraid of being deported. Immigration itself is a healthy thing.

Posted by: ajl on May 2, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

The St. Patrick's Day holiday is a fond look back for people of Irish descent, not a demand for the future.

Why do Irish-Americans solicit for the Irish Republican Army? Why do Irish-Americans contribute to a private Catholic University and name the mascot after their nationality? Why do the Irish seek to dominate every American city's police force and political machine? Perhaps the Irish have already overtaken the country and delivered it to their descendants, but because they do not want to make Celtic the national language we just don't realize it.

The folks who wrote all of those bad things about the Irish immigrants in the second half of the 1800's were as incorrect as you are about the immigrants of today.

Long live Parnell!

Viva Subcomandante Marcos!

Destroy Bush!

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Bob.

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

I know I still sing God Save the Queen in the original Elizabethan English.

Er, that's odd, what with God Save the King having been written in 1745...

Posted by: John on May 2, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile, Negra Modelo is a fine beer, and I'd happily accept one. Gracias.

Hey, it's a democracy. If most Americans are actually deeply concerned about their character of our country being changed, and they want to shut the door to immigration from South of here, then that's what will happen. Personally, it doesn't bother me in the slightest to have a large Latino minority in my country, any more than it bothers me to have a large Italian minority.

Third-generation Americans primarily speak English. That has always been the way. I have yet to see any evidence that this is changing. Regardless, we're a nation of mutts that is defined by a Constitution, not by the English language or by a monoculture. This is a country big and strong enough to support both Little Havana and the state of Kansas. That's a beautiful thing, if you ask me.

Posted by: ajl on May 2, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

ajl, you have a wonderful attitude. An ideal American attitude.

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the Irish have already overtaken the country and delivered it to their descendants, but because they do not want to make Celtic the national language we just don't realize it.

With five Catholics on the SCOTUS I'm more worried about Latin becoming the official language of the U.S.

Posted by: ogmb on May 2, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Beer, remember, is cerveza. Feminine noun.

More proof that the Mexicuns want to sissify this fine country! Join the fight to keep our beer male!

Posted by: ogmb on May 2, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Currently, when an immigrant who does not speak English comes to our country, they experience a steady, constant, inexorable pressure to learn English. and that is A Good Thing. Even if it has to flow down to the next generation. My great grandparents were from the Balkans of places (Croats) and could speak English poorly. Their kids were bilingual. their grandchildren spoke only English.

I'm cool with a spanish Star Spangled Banner if its from someone who wants to sing it and have the words mean something to them.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 2, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote this before. My paternal grandmother was third generation, born on the farm her grandfather homesteaded. She did not learn/speak English until she went to school. The household spoke German. This is a common American story I share with many of my fellow Americans, including Hispanic/Latino/Mexican-Americans.

Posted by: Hostile on May 2, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ergon:

You are entitled to your concerns, but after reading this thread, it appears to me that your arguments are based upon a series of "What ifs?". I prefer to deal with what is the case now and how that might play out in the future.

You said you like to hear reports from people who live in border towns. Here's more about Tucson.

Tucson was originally a small village founded by Native Americans, I believe the Yaqui, although it might have been the Tohono. Sometime during the 1700s. Fr. Junipero Serra and other missionaries came in and converted the natives, somewhat forceably. Spanish military folk came in as well. El Pueblo was established in the latter part of the 18th Cent. at a time when the area was still part of Mexico.

The Anglos came in during the 19th century and Tucson became part of Arizona Territory with the Gadsden purchase.

Tucson is an amalgamation of various European-origin peoples, Spanish/Mexican, and Native Americans, mostly Yaqui, Tohono, and Pima. We celebrate El Cinco de Mayo. With the Native Americans we celebrate a festival honoring harvesting saguaro cactus fruit, an important staple in their diet. We celebrate Juneteenth. Our Asian community celebrates the Chinese New Year. Our Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah and Rosh Hashona. Etc. Etc. Our ballets are all printed in Spanish as well as English.

Is this harmful? I don't think so. I think we are enriched by having all these different cultural strains and by enjoying them. Hell, it gives us more holidays to celebrate!

I do not believe that the U.S. will come to have another official language, but if we do and it's Spanish, then so be it, and let's handle it graciously.

In my experience, knowing a lot of Latinos and Latinas, they speak English with us, speak Spanish among themselves, except the young ones, under 30, don't know much Spanish. They are usually very easy going people, but they don't like being pushed around any more than any other people do. I saw a bumper sticker a couple of years back. "El ingles, la ley. El espanol, el derecho." (English is the law, Spanish is the right.) Rather than feeling threatened by this, I studied Spanish for a year, and though I hardly speak it perfectly, in the library where I work, I can help Spanish-only speakers coming from Mexico, the entire transaction en espanol. Said library is a medical library, BTW, and all of these people read English and want their medical information to be in English, not Spanish. They just don't speak it very well since they live in Mexico.

Based upon many years of interactions with Latinos and Latinas, in various situations, I can say that they are not a threat. They are just angry now because they are being threatened by the possible passage of draconian laws.

Yes, illegal immigrants are a small net cost over what they are paid, since they are paid a pittance. And I do feel sorry for the people who are native born who are competing for the same types of jobs.

But we need to go after employers who hire these people. And the only longterm solution is for Mexico and other Central and Latin American countries to improve things for their own people so they don't get so desperate that pittance wages and horrible working conditions aren't still better than staying in their own villages with their loved ones, which most would prefer to do.

Building a wall would only keep out some. As someone else pointed out, there are still the seaports, and the border with Canada. I for one do not wish to see us imitating the Berlin Wall, which was unsuccessful anyway. Let's enjoy our differences and use them as enrichments, instead of fearing them!

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on May 2, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

Regardless, we're a nation of mutts that is defined by a Constitution, not by the English language or by a monoculture

true enough, but the version of the Constitution that matters is the English language version. same with the constitutions of the states, and the federal and state laws.

Posted by: republicrat on May 3, 2006 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

Most nations are multilingual, and in any case, widespread knowledge of Spanish if anything is a big boost to the US in drumming up business with the vast Latin American market.

Spanish makes little sense. We have immigrants from China and India, and we do much more business with those nations than with most Spanish speaking nations.

Which reminds me, Why preferential treatment for immigrants from Mexico? There are lots more Chinese and Indians who want to immigrate to the US than there are Mexicans. It's harder to get in from China and India, but we could change that with little difficulty. Instead of making them pay $40,000 - $100,000 to be smuggled in, we could just take the money directly as a kind of admission fee (like they do in Canada).

Posted by: republicrat on May 3, 2006 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK


Who cares.. it's a free country.

Posted by: Andy on May 3, 2006 at 4:41 AM | PERMALINK

Spanish, okay. But I draw the line at Tagalog.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on May 3, 2006 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

Agreed.

We should move on to important stuff -- like why the Bush-compliant media didnt give enough coverage to Colbert.

Posted by: The Commissar on May 3, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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