Newt Gingrich and Non-Native English Speakers

 Normally I avoid political topics. I don’t want this blog to be just another vitriolic rant.  But Newt Gingrich’s latest rant of his own is over the top.

Here is how Orlando’s Channel 6 reports it.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich equated bilingual education Saturday with “the language of living in a ghetto” and mocked requirements that ballots be printed in multiple languages.”The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up” to vote, said Gingrich, who is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He made the comments in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women. “The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. … We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto,” Gingrich said to cheers from the crowd of more than 100.

Well, certainly we have a lot of non-native speakers here.  This census map shows counties by percentage of people who speak a language other than English.  Bluer equals higher percentages of non-English speakers.

But the argument Gingrich employs for his own political purposes doesn’t actually exist.  The map above just maps the newest of our immigrants.  The Pew Hispanic Center has looked into native language retention and found that the children of Hispanic immigrants speak English well or very well and half are English dominant.  By the third generation — the grandchildren of the original immigrants — English is the dominant language and a number of this generation actually lose all knowledge of Spanish.  Only 7.7% of second generation and not even 3% of third generation Hispanics don’t speak English well.

So what problem does Gingrich address?  None.  Every immigrant group assimilates with very few exceptions and by the third generation knowledge of their grandparent’s language is in danger of disappearing entirely.  Gingrich’s inflammatory language only provokes prejudice amongst those who dislike those who are dissimilar.  Gingrich reaches back into American history and borrows the language of hate employed by the Nativists of the mid-19th century.  He uses hate to gain political advantage.

Which of Dante’s circles of hell does Gingrich belong for whipping up prejudice against immigrants for personal political gain?

No, not any of the 5 circles of Upper Hell.  Let’s look at Lower Hell:

I vote for the 8th circle of hell, where resides Hypocrites, Evil Counselors and Deceivers, Sowers of Discord/Scandal/Schism, and Falsifiers.  

OK.  All of these apply to Gingrich.  The most superficial scanning of news archives will arm anyone with examples of each of these egregious practices.  This assignment puts Gingrich in Dante’s Malabolgia — that crossroads in hell where the worst are sent to the lower reaches, mere brutality assigns one above this range of circles and the deceptions of kings and disciples flings one into the most tortuous chambers.

But for Gingrich these unholy deceptions merely gets him more press.

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2 responses to “Newt Gingrich and Non-Native English Speakers

  1. Pingback: Gingrich and the Language of the "Ghetto" « The Blog and the Bullet

  2. Pingback: Newt Gingrich: Tellin’ It Like It Isn’t « The Mustard Seed

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