Shall We Balkanize America, or Unify Her?
Dear readers. Allow me to recount two seemingly-unrelated experiences that clearly reflect two antithetical attitudes towards America’s linguistic unity as demonstrated by two residents of my home town, Irving, TX.
Let’s start with the attitude of a Mexican national who resides in Irving.
At Home Depot one evening, a man approached me and asked for advice on which brand of caulk to buy. I told him that I was not a store employee but that I could give him my own personal advice, if he was interested. Yes, he was interested.
I immediately noticed his heavy Spanish accent. He was struggling to speak to me in English and was having great difficulty understanding my responses. Being a fluent Spanish speaker, I continued discussing the merits of certain brands of caulk over others, in Spanish. He immediately warmed up to me when he saw that the language hurdle had suddenly and unexpectedly been removed. We continued conversing pleasantly in Spanish for several minutes. His wife joined the conversation, too.
He complimented my Spanish repeatedly and effusively. My response, translated into English: “And you, my friend? How about your English?”
He smiled and made the typical excuse that he can’t afford to take English classes and doesn’t have time. I told
him, “You are surrounded with English; there is no excuse. You owe it to America to learn it. This is a matter of respect for the country that is offering you a chance at a better life than you have found in your home land.”
He smiled, again, and heartily agreed, as did his wife.
As we parted ways, I said, with a smile, “¡Unase con América!” which means, “Join America.” His response: “Yes! That’s a great idea!” understanding that I was speaking linguistically, not politically. He even reached out and took hold of my elbow, smiled enormously, nodded his head vigorously, and repeated, “Yes! That’s a great idea!” (in Spanish, of course.)
He gets it!
Now, let’s take a look at a very different attitude.
Here in Irving, TX, a lovable, grandmotherly lady is running to replace our current mayor Rick Stopfer. Her name is Olivia Abreu. In response to my questions to her about why we should vote for her, how her values differ from Mayor Stopfer’s, and how she is more qualified to be mayor than he, this is the most salient qualification she proffered.
Mr. Stopfer has no background, to my knowledge, of having lived extensively in another country, trying to fit in a different society and a foreign language. As Irving is growing more diverse, I can better serve the city by being multilingual and knowledgeable about world cultures.
My oh my! Doesn’t that sound pretty! I grant it does, but only cosmetically, only superficially.
After a substantial email thread with Ms. Abreu, (and after watching this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybFE58dNX6o) I learned that when she says, ‘diversity’ she means ethnic, racial, linguistic, cultural diversity—not true diversity, which is diversity of values and ideas. In other words, she divides people into groups the same way most of us would divide only barnyard animals—by their phenotypes and instincts, not by their values and ideas.
I readily forgive her for this. After all, Mexican culture, to which she strongly adheres, produces much racism (¡La raza! La raza! Have you ever heard that?) and ethnic narcissism.
But what about unifying those diverse groups? Through the course of our exchanges, she expressed no interest in helping foreign nationals residing on our soil to understand American values, American customs, American culture—all of the things that have produced a country where billions of people want to live. In fact, she never mentioned American values or expressed a desire to propagate and preserve them. After our long email thread, I was thoroughly convinced that she either doesn’t know anything about American values, or she has nothing but contempt for them. She clearly has nothing to say about them.
But even more pertinent to my discussion in this article, she never mentioned—not once—that she intends to encourage and help Irving residents who are not proficient in English to acquire our language adequately, so as to truly join the U.S.A.
In other words, she would seek to further Balkanize Irving—America—in order to entrench herself in power, with her tender little babies depending on her to favor them. Instead of teaching them why America is unique, instead of empowering them to join us linguistically, she would rather pander to them, pat them on the head, pity them, tenderly suckle them and help them to remain isolated in their little tribes. That way, she can be sure that they will continue to need her, and that she can continue to use their ethnic narcissism and linguistic separatism to keep herself in power.
Just like that ancient superiority attitude of the European privileged elites! What name did the French and the British have for that arrogance? Ah, yes, I remember. They used to call it noblesse oblige.