Nobody luxuriates in the English language with more vim than this spinster aunt. I’m positively French about it. But these English-as-the-official-national-language bills currently stinking up the already gross-smelling federal legislature are nothing but xenophobic racist bullshit that can only be interpreted as a giant fuck-you to anyone who mops a floor or mows a lawn or picks a grapefruit in the state of Texas and beyond.
The Senate bill—which passed with the exuberant hell-yeahs of Democrat senators from what I think we can safely say are states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, Florida, Nebraska) overabundant with thriving tribes of illiterate rednecks who wouldn’t know a well-turned English phrase if some moron in a beer commercial stuck his finger in it—cleverly imposes higher standards of English comprehension on would-be immigrants while providing bupkis in funding for ESL (English as a second language) programs. Thus ensuring a recursive infinite feedback loop of failure. But this and other concrete consequences of the bill pale in comparison to the blinding enormity of its symbolic subtext.
It will come as a mind-blowing shock to no one that this English-as-the-Official-Language baloney is not about language at all. It is about white supremacy and fear of Mexicans. Until recently, honkys didn’t have to notice Mexicans or other Hispanic populations if they didn’t feel like it. Their produce just magically appeared in the grocery store, and their water-hogging lawns were manicured by invisible men. But lately the invisibles have been taking to the streets, where, despite global dimming, the light of day incontrovertibly reflects actual human beings.
A lot of human beings. Over 40 million, in fact. It turns out that one out of every seven people in the United States is Hispanic. Which makes remarks like Republican senator Lamar Alexander’s jingoist “English is part of our national identity, it’s part of our blood, part of our spirit” sound incredibly parochial, to say nothing of dimwitted. Lamar needs to get a grip. He’s appealing to his Anglo constituents’ irrational, sentimentalized yearning for a happy-honky Norman Rockwell America that, if it ever existed—which it didn’t—certainly did so at the terrible expense of everyone who wasn’t an upper middle class white male motherfucker. Culture, my onions—and the aforementioned mythical culture in particular—is not worth oppressing 40 million people over. It’s nothing but a set of behaviors upon the successful assimilation of which a given party is ruthlessly judged by her prejudiced peers.
Xenophobic racist bullshit has always been a beloved cornerstone of proto-fascism, so of course it is a specialitÃ© de la maison of 21st century American patriarchy. It has been successfully implemented in selling the Iraq war. It sustains the long lines in airports in which honkys can satisfy their rekindled passion for casting suspicious glances at swarthier passengers. And now the federal government proposes it be used to oppress and control the terrifying foreign (read: Mexican) menace.
English has been the official language of California for the past 20 years. Indentured undocumented immigrant labor thrives there under appalling conditions like it does nowhere else in the states. Coincidence?