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Archives for November 2007
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John Fund writes about the English-Only Showdown
Does Nancy Pelosi really object to a common language in the workplace?
The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.
But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.
As you all well know, I am a staunch advocate of assimilation. I am truly happy to hear that many others are, too:
“We are now celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English.”
That’s what pro-assimilation forces are moving to do. TV Azteca, Mexico’s second-largest network, is launching a 60-hour series of English classes on all its U.S. affiliates. It recognizes that teaching English empowers Latinos. “If you live in this country, you have to speak as everybody else,” Jose Martin Samano, Azteca’s U.S. anchor, told Fox News. “Immigrants here in the U.S. can make up to 50% or 60% more if they speak both English and Spanish. This is something we have to do for our own people.”
Azteca isn’t alone. Next month, a new group called Our Pledge will be launched. Counting Jeb Bush and former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros among its board members, the organization believes absorbing immigrants is “the Sputnik challenge of our era.” It will put forward two mutual pledges. It will ask immigrants to learn English, become self-sufficient and pledge allegiance to the U.S. It will ask Americans to provide immigrants help navigating the American system, the chance to eventually become a citizen and an atmosphere of respect.
This is a big challenge, but Our Pledge points out that the U.S. did it before with the Americanization movement of a century ago. It was government led, but the key players were businesses like the Ford Motor Company and nonprofits such as the YMCA, plus an array of churches and neighborhood groups.
The alternative to Americanization is polarization. Already a tenth of the population speaks English poorly or not at all. Almost a quarter of all K-12 students nationwide are children of immigrants living between two worlds. It’s time for people of good will to reject both the nativist and anti-assimilation extremists and act. If the federal government spends billions on the Voice of America for overseas audiences and on National Public Radio for upscale U.S. listeners, why not fund a “Radio New America” whose primary focus is to teach English and U.S. customs to new arrivals?
The surest way to achieve success in our country, the most successful society in the history of mankind, is through integration.
We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.
And, sure as rain, Israelis will be forced into yet more concessions: Elder of Ziyon looks at the map.
The sad fact is that Annapolis is sideshow to a larger battle that has to be won before anything appropriate in the way of peace negotiations can take place between Israel and her Arab enemies. Yesterday, while everyone was focusing on Annapolis, Lieutenant General Lute, Mr. Bush’s “tsar” for the Battle of Iraq, quietly announced, as our Nicholas Wapshott reported yesterday, that the administration and the Iraqis are about to commence talks on withdrawing American troops in advance of the end of the U.N. mandate in 2008. The important, the most urgent battle in the coming seasons will be securing the victory that our GIs have been crafting in on the battlefield there and advancing the spread of democracy in the neighboring lands. What peace can be established between Israel and her neighbors while a regime exists in Iran to stoke the arsenals of the terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon, the latter of which, our Benny Avni reported earlier in the week, is the more logical place for Annapolis to focus. Messrs. Bush and Olmert are, sadly, the only players on the Middle Eastern battlefield with the kind of credentials — democratic credentials — that really matter.
Over in Saudi Arabia, the authorities have released more than 1,500 reformed extremists who underwent counseling.
Special podcast on Sunday, December 2 at 6PM.
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Protests rage on
At the Center for Security Policy:
Due to the dire situation inside Venezuela, the staff at the Americas Report will publish daily news briefs between now and December 2, 2007 when the Chavez “reforms” are due to voted on by the electorate. In addition to keeping our readers informed of the latest news coming out of Venezuela, we also want to salute the courage of the students and all those in opposition to this latest attempt by Mr. Chavez to turn Venezuela into a totalitarian state.
Here’s the latest:
Civil disobedience against Chavez is not undemocratic
By Luis Fleischman*
The Constitutional reform in Venezuela that is scheduled to be ratified by popular referendum is having major repercussions in Venezuela now. President Hugo Chavez has been gradually reducing the power of civil society in Venezuela for the last several years. This present constitutional reform, which is another step in the same direction, has generated a stronger reaction. What we are facing now is probably the largest civil protests in Venezuela since February 2003 when groups in civil society were struggling to hold a re-call referendum on Chavez.
Indeed, in the last several years, Chavez has increased his political power and fully controls the legislature.
In addition, he has manipulated the judiciary and the military by appointing officers and judges loyal to him. In the economic sphere, he has gone against the will of important groups in civil society by halting foreign exchange, and placing price controls on domestic and imported products. Venezuela is moving from a relatively diverse economy into an Arab-like oil petro-tyrannical welfare state. This situation has forced producers to stop producing, resulting in food shortages. By the same token, commerce and investment in the country has deteriorated tremendously.
In the area of human rights and freedom of expression, Chavez has encouraged violence against journalists and passed laws criminalizing opinions. He has denied jobs as well as identity cards and passports to people who signed in favor of the re-call referendum, a public referendum aimed at placing the continuation of the Chavez regime on the ballot.
It is interesting that the business association (Fedecameras) complains about the fact that petro-dollars circulating in the market are not a sign of economic strength, because there are shortages of food, medicines and materials. We are also beginning to hear again from press rights organizations that are denouncing deterioration of the freedom of the press in Venezuela and warning that further restrictions may come out of the constitutional reform. By the same token world intellectuals such as Mario Vargas Llosa and European philosophers such as Bernard Henri Levy and Andre Glucksmann are denouncing Chavez’s abuses.
This new anti-Chavez movement has been brought about by one man. He is the former Chavez Defense Secretary; General Rafael Baduel. Baduel has publicly opposed the constitutional reforms in Venezuela calling them an attempt at a “coup d’etat. As a result he has become the new de-facto leader millions of Venezuelans were waiting for. Until recently, Baduel could be blamed for allowing Chavez to co-opt the military in Venezuela and use it to strengthen his regime and for loyalty to a man who spoke about installing a socialist, revolutionary regime backed by the military. Yet, it is the same Baduel that now begins to rebel.
Whatever Baduel’s reasons were, there is no doubt that the former Defense Secretary and Chief of staff has generated a new momentum and opportunity which will be foolish for those who oppose Hugo Chavez to miss.
In the last couple of weeks students have gone to the streets demanding a halt to the constitutional reforms and protests were organized across the country. Meanwhile the government became defensive; Chavez called Baduel a traitor while Hanz Dietrich, the master intellectual of the Chavez socialist revolution, recommended that Chavez withdraw the proposed constitutional reform and try to co-opt Baduel to avoid further deterioration of the regime. The governor of the State of Anzoategui, Tarek William Saab, taking a defensive position, stated that Baduel responded to the wishes of the (American) “Empire and international Zionism”. (By the way, in the past Saab allegedly undermined the indictment process of three Arabs arrested in Venezuela for having allegedly participated in the terrorist attack that destroyed the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires in 1994).
Tarek William Saab. Source: Prensa Gobernación Anzoátegui.
In the pages of the America’s Report we have repeatedly warned that those fighting for freedom against the Chavez tyranny in Venezuela have been abandoned. The student movement in Venezuela is today the Latin version of the Prague spring of 1968. Whereas the political opposition has become flaccid, legalistic and virtually shut down by the intimidating nature of the Chavez regime, it is the non-political students who are fighting. They are not doing it in pursuit of any gains other than a way of life free of the dogmas and dictates imposed by the growing Chavista state.
Chavez’s image in the world is that of a highly distasteful leader. However, there is an unchallenged consensus that his regime is legitimate because it was democratically elected. Thus, Western common sense tells us that his removal must take place only through democratic means. The reality is that Chavez has designed a model of “totalitarian democracy” where he has used state resources to gain political power at the expense of civil society and where petro-dollars have allowed him to buy the hearts and votes of people who have chosen to ignore the fact that they have less representation, less dignity, and fewer rights. However, there is no doubt that Venezuelans are paying greatly now and will pay heavily in the future.
Democracy is not the mere act of conducting elections. Elections embody the last stage of a large system of liberties and rights that develop gradually over some period of time. Chavez is like Hamas in Gaza using elections to subjugate rights and impose his will. Chavez currently controls the electoral process. The Chavez regime is by far less respectful of the law than the Hungarian and Polish governments were during their last period of communist rule. Opponents could appeal to Hungarian or Polish law to achieve something. In Venezuela to wait for legal means to remove Chavez from power is an illusion because the successive “constitutional” reforms in Venezuela were aimed at reducing rights and the rule of law not increasing rights as a real constitution should.
This has been done in order to create a situation where Chavez will ultimately stand alone before the people with no law that restricts him and no rights that protect or empower them. This is why removing Chavez by non-electoral means is as much a legitimate act as acts of civil disobedience were forty years ago in the US South. Disobedience is an expression of rebellion against unjust laws and an unjust regime. As in the 1960’s Southern United States, this experience could have an effect of a political renaissance and open better opportunities after Chavez’s removal.
Civil society must come out now to the streets and show that they are protesting not for salaries, not for or against some specific policy carried by the Chavez regime but for the sake of human dignity and a free way of life. These are basic natural human rights that Chavez seeks to p swallow as a boa does with a rat.
If the citizens come out to the streets the world will respond. Baduel, for his part generated something important. If he can convince the military to resist Chavez, this could have key consequences.
*Dr. Luis Fleischman is an advisor to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC. He is also an adjunct professor of Political Science and Sociology at Wilkes Honor College at Florida Atlantic University.
I will continue posting these every day.
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For months, parents on a Los Angeles Unified School District advisory council have disagreed over whether their meetings should be conducted in Spanish or English. Such arguments became so abusive that district officials canceled meetings for two months and brought in dispute-resolution specialists and mental-health counselors.
They offer advice on — and oversight of — the expenditure of $385 million on federally funded programs for students from poor families.
What is wrong with this picture?
First of all, the public meetings of an organization bankrolled at taxpayers’ expense, are being held in the United States. While the USA has no official language, the language of goverment, the language in which all the laws are written and all the documents on which our nation was founded, is English.
As the article states, the Council is managing federal funds. While there are a lot of people in the USA and undoubtedly many people in the LA School District who speak Spanish, we live in an English-speaking country.
The Los Angeles Unified School District evidently has a large number of Spanish-speaking immigrants:
Some meetings consist entirely of Spanish-speakers in a district where more than 266,000 students (and probably many more parents) are English-learners out of a student population of about 694,000.
First of all, they are English-learners; in practical terms, every immigrant family I have come across has the situation where the children have learned English even if the parents do not. And, second, even with their large numbers, they are still a minority. I expect that there are areas in Los Angeles and other cities in California where Vietnamese, or Mandarin, or Russian, is the prevailing language. California is a state of immigrants.
But the real issue is not immigration; the real issue is integration.
By demanding that the meetings be held in Spanish, a large number of attendees have demonstrated that they have no intention of integrating into mainstream America.
According to the article,
The goings-on raise another round of questions about parent participation in the nation’s second-largest school system, which has been repeatedly criticized by auditors for inconsistent and ineffective parent involvement and outreach. Critics say the district rarely seeks true parental input and instead uses parents to rubber-stamp budgets and programs. District officials insist they are determined to change this perception and are making progress.
The English-speaking parents who are involved have every reason to expect that the meetings be held in English. It behooves the Spanish-speaking parents to learn the language. That is the best way they can participate in the political process.
I know so from experience.
As I have asserted time and time again, acculturation is not simply being bilingual; however, by denying themselves the opportunity to learn English, the Spanish-speaking parents are denying themselves all the opportunities this country has to offer them.
In the long term, they are also denying their children those opportunities.
Earlier this year I posted about the deleterious effect that bilingual education has on children’s learning. Take a look at the world’s best-paid professions; look at how India’s becoming an economic powerhouse because its people speak fluent English.
The LA Times article says that a woman
considers it racist when parents are told that, in America, they have to speak English.
This is hardly surprising; after all, the best-known Hispanic activist group, La Raza, features race in its name. Additionally, pulling a race card has been used repeatedly by those who would rather not be inconvenienced into learning a language, and there’s also an industry of victimhood willing to support them.
As Tony Blankley has said when talking about bilingual ed,
It is hateful of ideological “civil rights” activists to try to intimidate any politician who would dare to liberate kids from the linguistic ghetto that serves the political power of these “civil rights” activists. Once these kids have mastered English and fully entered American life, they will no longer be vote fodder for the “civil rights” activists’ political ambitions.
The special interest ethnic activists prefer to have a new generation of clients, rather than a new generation of fully integrated American citizens. And what they fear is an honest and open debate on the bilingual teaching method.
Allow me to point out, again, that “Hispanic” is not a race. In the two-dozen Spanish-speaking countries in the world you can find people of every race and ethnic background.
As we watch the problems Europe has with millions of immigrants who the Europeans never integrated into their societies, it is time we insist on every immigrant’s duty to learn the language and the customs of our country.
Nearly 80 French police officers have been injured, six seriously, during a second night of riots by youths in the suburbs of Paris, police unions say.
The police say some officers suffered bullet wounds, while others were hurt by stones, fireworks and petrol bombs thrown at them in Villiers-le-Bel.
The youths said they were avenging the two teenagers killed when their motorcycle hit a police car on Sunday.
A senior union official said the riots had been more intense than in 2005.
The 2005 unrest, sparked by the accidental deaths of two youths, spread from a nearby suburb of Paris to other cities and continued for three weeks, during which more than 10,000 cars were set ablaze and 300 buildings firebombed.
The second consecutive night of rioting began early in the evening in Villiers-le-Bel, the northern suburb that saw most of the violence on Sunday.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to keep at bay gangs of youths who were attacking them with stones, fireworks and petrol bombs.
More than 70 vehicles and buildings, including the municipal library, two schools and several shops, were set on fire.
Mr Ribeiro said police were facing a situation that was “far worse than that of 2005”, which began in the nearby suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.
Associated Press, however, states
Police were shot at and are facing “genuine urban guerillas with conventional weapons and hunting weapons,” Ribeiro said.
Some officers were hit by shotgun pellets, Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said.
This brings the total to a hundred and three policemen and firemen injured since Sunday.
Gateway Pundit has more.
In other French news, a huge security breach at the Pantheon gets the clock repaired.