17 June 2011

The Texan Is Right...Once

Caught My eye, this did:

During committee testimony this week in Austin, a Texas senator interrupted a Spanish speaker telling him he should "be speaking in English" during a committee hearing. Antolín Aguirre of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition was testifying against Senate Bill 9 that would help crack down on illegal immigrants in Texas. Aguirre spoke through an interpreter even though he had been in the U.S. since 1988. 

Two minutes into Antolín Aguirre’s testimony, Sen. Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, interrupted asking Aguirre’s interrupter, "Did I understand him correctly that he has been here since 1988?" Harris asked. "Why aren’t you speaking in English then?"

Through his interpreter, Aguirre said Spanish is his "first language and since it is his first time giving testimony he would rather do it in Spanish." 

"It is insulting to us," Sen. Harris fired back. "It is very insulting. And if he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English."

Blind squirrels and nuts... Chris Harris is right: for Aguirre to be delivering his testimony in Spanish, after living in the U.S. of part of A. for 23 years, is insulting. If Harris tried that same trick in Spain or Argentina or Mexico, he'd be shot down in a similar way and deservedly so.

Part of the immigration problem--in every country--is that the immigrants have to choose between retaining their socio-cultural heritage and blending into the new one they inhabit. It isn't easy. The two most obvious signs are clothing (think "burka") and language. To speak your host's language--and yes, I'm saying you as an immigrant are a guest--is at worst good manners and at best a broad path to growth and understanding.

For Aguirre to sit before a government body in public function and address it in any other language other than its own can only be excused if he had very little or no knowledge of that language. But 23 years' exposure to English and he can't muster up the confidence and courage to use it to express his position? That is beyond stupid. Given the topic under discussion, his use of Spanish actually undermined his argument, whereas by using English, even haltingly, would have given him and his words greater force.

Yes, a lot of people make fun of others who speak their language less-than-perfectly. I went through that with Spanish. But given the average American's moronic attitude about any other language besides English, an immigrant can take pride in knowing more than the average American, which is often as easy as being taller than a hobbit.

And taking "refuge" in "I don't learn English because I'm not American" is the uttering of total moron. If you live in another country, you don't cease to be whoever you are, so everything you learn actually makes you more "you." Why? Because you grow, rather than stagnate. It's that simple. So on a personal note, the next statehood supporter who tells Me they lived in the U.S. of part of A. for at least 10 years and speaks English like a brain-dulled toddler is going to hear Me say: "Qué inútil eres." How useless you are.

But Harris, predictably, fails to be right on the topic discussed by Aguirre:

The fiery exchange happened on Monday during a Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee hearing. Law makers were hearing testimony on the purposed Senate Bill 9 – The so-called sanctuary cities bill. The bill would allow local law enforcement officials to check a suspect’s immigration status.

Supporters of Senate Bill 9 have said it would help crack down on illegal immigrants. Opponents argue that it will do little to help border security and that it’s instead based on racism. 

Despite the blow-up The Texas Senate passed the bill Wednesday.

Harris voted for it, despite the fact that "suspect" is defined as "anyone authorities deem to be a suspect." No probable cause, no actual crime witnessed, no nothing; just an exercise in "legal authority" backed by id.  And so the march to fascism detoured ever-so-briefly for a moment of shining truth, only to be buried under a double crapload of fear and loathing.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Prometeo said...

Ihad a chinese friend a few years ago. He spoke his native language, English and was asking me for help to learn Spanish. He learned at an amazing pace and was able to have a conversation in Spanish. He was about 50 something at that moment and owned two restaurants.

I can´t understand that guy´s excuse.

Ms. Conciencia said...

That is reason #25 for why Statehood will never happen in Our Island.

Kofla Olivieri said...

In the early 80's when I moved from Mayaguez to San Juan, one of our customers at the motorcycle shop was an american who at that time had lived in San Juan for at least 15 years. He was unable to communicate with us, (the people fixing his bike) only with the shop owner who was bilingual. The guy said he had no interest learning Spanish.

Now that I've been here in the states all these years, it baffles me when I encounter people who have been living here their entire lives, and are still unable to speak English.

GCSchmidt said...

Thank you all for commenting. Anybody who goes to a foreign country and spends more than a year there without trying to learn the language is an idiot. If the country is good enough for you to settle down in, then its language becomes your language. Period.

On the other hand, what Arizona and Alabama have done, and Texas is trying to do, is allow law enforcement to question anybody--on whim or caprice--because they are slightly darker, have a mustache or speak English with an accent. Laughable if it weren't so prone to violent abuse. This in a country where a paltry minority speaks a second language...and We here in Puerto Rico barely speak English as it is.