Thursday, May 29, 2008

No Hablo Xenophobia

McIlheran writes about his concern that Miami, Florida is becoming predominantly Spanish-speaking:
But Miami is neither a place where Spanish has always been the predominant language nor is it even another country. It just feels like it, according to people the AP quotes. Nor is being a florist or cook the sort of profession one expects to have to speak Spanish for.

Nothing wrong with Spanish. I stumble along, badly, in it. Though if I'd had my druthers about what would have been my primary second language, it wouldn't have been Spanish. And while bilingualism is good, generally, it seems somehow out of order for a local culture in a major metropolis of the United States to require the use of some language other than English for mere participation in the job market, and it seems further out of order for one particular foreign language to be privileged as, de facto, the language one must learn in addition to English.

Too bad that McIlheran did not take a little time to consult his grade school history texts. He might have been reminded of Little Italy in New York City. Or even the more convincing history of Chinatown in San Francisco, in which the U.S. government passed a law which was openly prejudicial and oppressive to the Chinese. Even worse, this law was extened for over sixty years.

Yet both New York and San Francisco are strong American cities, and have not been annexed to Italy or China.

But then again, the conservatives only card lately seems to be the fear card. Especially if the fear is xenophobia.

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