Thursday, July 10, 2008

Can You Detect His Upper West Side Accent?

Obama sticks his foot in his mouth again, here's the video at Right Wing News and here's the transcript courtesy of Rachel Lucas:

“I, I don’t understand, when people are going around worrying about, ‘we need to have English only.’ They, they wanna pass a law, ‘we want just, uh, we want English only.’ No, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that.

But. But. Understand this. Instead of worrying about whether, uh, 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.

“You know, it’s embarrassing, it’s embarrassing when, when, uh, when Europeans come over here. They all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe. All we can say is merci beaucoup. Right?”

Did it ever occur to Mr. Obama that there may be a reason a lot of people choose to learn English? Obama is so nuanced and intelligent, so he must have a firm grasp of history, correct? He must know that for, oh, say the past 500 years, English speaking Anglo-Saxon countries have dominated cultural, economic, and political thought? Why is English overwhelmingly used on the internet? Because America invented it. Why do so many people in foreign lands learn English? Because it makes their lives easier. They can trade with us. They can understand the new American or British pop hit. They can watch Star Wars without voices dubbed over. People learn English because it is practical for them to do so seeing as Britain and then America have been the driving force of history for so long.

Its not usually practical for Americans to learn a second language once they're out of school. I'd love to read the original text Voltaire wrote in French, or the Aeneid in Latin, but the time I'd have to put in makes the cost prohibitive. For someone who wants to enjoy American culture, or make money through international trade with the English speaking world, the costs may not be prohibitive. They may be a worthwhile investment.

I think Obama scolding soccer moms for not taking time out of their busy day to teach their kids Spanish is incredibly condescending. Calling them "embarrassing" reveals a conceited elite who doesn't think much of the ordinary Americans whose vote he seeks.


Eowyn said...

"People learn English because it is practical for them to do so seeing as Britain and then America have been the driving force of history for so long."

Nail on head, AM. Nice one.

(Sigh. This election cycle is so, totally depressing. //pity party over)

A Missourian said...

I know, this must be what it felt like to choose between Ford and Carter.

Eowyn said...

And how, brother. Same, exact situation.

Oh, while I'm here -- not sure if you're aware of the Harry's Place blogburst? I've got info here --