Barack Obama wants a bilingual, English-Spanish U.S. (+more American bashing)
One of Barack Obama's most shocking statements was issued earlier today at a high school in Powder Springs, Georgia, where he said, among other things, the following (link):
"We live in a global economy. And, you know, I don't understand when people are going around worrying about, 'We need to have English- only.' They want to pass a law, 'We want English-only'... Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English - they'll learn English - you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language."
While I have no doubt that his supporters will spin that statement in ever more creative ways, the bottom line (in our universe) is that Barack Obama is calling for a bilingual English-Spanish U.S. In the unlikely event that he becomes president, it's not difficult to imagine him pandering by pushing for funding for programs designed to teach Spanish rather than just programs not specific to one language.
Which brings us to a replay of BitterGate, with him also saying this:
"It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is 'Merci beaucoup.'"
Per the article, he said that for "comic effect", but somehow I'm not laughing.
UPDATE 4: See the extended entry for an example of the useful idiots who aren't even aware they're assimilating to immigrants rather than the other way around.
UPDATE 3: Obama has "clarified" his remarks by disingenuously suggesting that he only said Americans should learn foreign languages (link):
I said something the other day down in Georgia, and the Republicans jumped on this. I said, you know, absolutely immigrants need to learn English, but we also need to learn foreign languages... This is an example of some of the problems we get into when somebody attacks you for saying the truth, which is we should want children with more knowledge. We should want our children to have more skills. There's nothing wrong with that! It's a good thing...
Unfortunately, there were apparently no real reporters around to call him on misrepresenting his own comments. See this for a related discussion.
UPDATE 2: As expected, BHO's supporters are mischaracterizing his remarks, pretending that he just wants Americans to learn other languages. But, that's not the only thing he said. He wants parents to make sure that their children learn Spanish. He singled out one language, and if he had said they should learn French, people would wonder what he meant. But, because he mentioned Spanish, everyone knows exactly what he means: he wants citizens to assimilate to immigrants, even if he gives lip service to the reverse process.
Eighty-three percent (83%) place a higher priority on encouraging immigrants to speak English as their primary language. Just 13% take the opposite view and say it is more important for Americans to learn other languages... [in different surveys] Among those angry about immigration, 59% believe most government officials encourage immigrants to retain their home country culture... 77% of Americans believed that employers should be allowed to require employees to speak English while on the job... 65% of voters now believe election ballots should only be printed in English. Thirty-two percent (32%) say they should be printed in both English and Spanish... 54% of voters say it is more important to encourage all immigrants to embrace American culture than it is to reduce the number of immigrants. Just 36% take the opposite view and say reducing immigration is a higher priority... Only 26% believe that every American should be able to speak at least two languages...
UPDATE: I replaced the original link with one with a longer transcript. And, here's video:
UPDATE 4: The comments on a post by "smintheus" (dailykos.com/story/2008/7/14/104027/288/892/551357) help show a) how an echo chamber leads to unchallenged and thereby occasionally false statements, b) how BHO's supporters are willing to mislead about his comments and the complaints about them, and c) Americans assimilating to immigrants instead of the other way around.
"smintheus" starts out by pretending that BHO's comments were just about learning new languages, and at the end says "Many right-wingers just skipped what Obama actually said and declared that he wants to forcibly indoctrinate their children in Spanish, or make Spanish the official language of the US." There's a subtle difference between that misstatement of concerns about BHO's comments and the actual concerns outlined above: what Obama said would lead to a bilingual U.S. No one's said he wants to make Spanish *the* official language, but his comments above could lead to him making it one of them. And, it certainly is possible that he'd want to forcibly make Spanish a requirement, but he's only so far made it his personal opinion and hasn't yet come up with a proposal.
And, the comments show Americans assimilating to immigrants:
"...I live in California. I was recently layed off from my jog as a paralegal because my boss retired. There are a lot of Spanish speaking people here in Sonoma County. I just spent $200+ for Spanish learning CD's..."
"...I am in Mexico right this very moment, learning more Spanish to use in my job. Oh, and I will get a multi-thousand-dollar per year biingual stipend, which doesn't suck at all..."
"If I didn't know Spanish... I'd have had a bitch of a time communicating with the movers who loaded my apartment onto a Budget truck last week. The job got done right only because my Spanish was marginally better than their English."