libslayer2013 has a question.

Now perhaps you don’t see an issue here, perhaps this is just a way to learn a 2nd language? But why of all things would the teacher insist on the Pledge Of Allegiance? Surely with all the text books and articles available some other published work could have been chosen. Y’all tell me, maybe I’m missin something here and my anger is unjustified.

Here is my answer. There is nothing wrong with learning a foreign language. There is nothing wrong with people whose primary language is not English. They are just not Americans. If you want to understand other Americans, speaking English is a requirement. Speaking English is in fact a requirement for citizenship.


So what is the point learning the Pledge in Spanish? It’s stupid! That’s what wrong with it!



I’m so stinkin fired up right now. I’m angry (but not sinning), I’m hurt (but not wishing to administer pain), I’m disgusted (to the point of high blood pressure), and I’m disappointed (but not to the point of giving up). My wife says I need to choose my battles but there are so many things wrong in this country that I’m havin a hard time figuring out which to do battle with. And I think I’ve realized that this is the whole point of the liberal agenda. The left is flooding us with.such a barrage of items that we as conservatives are beginning to feel overwhelmed. And if we’re overwhelmed then we’re not thinking properly and they’ve won half the battle.
OK, so why am I fired up? I reckon the hot topic fer me right now is the Rivera Independent School District in Rivera, Texas. One of the (un-named)…

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  1. I do confess to being confused. You ask about concentration camps – the first reference in this thread to them, and I profess puzzlement as to why you would raise that issue. I can’t follow the relationship of your reference to saying the Pledge in Spanish. I’m incapable of being embarrassed by this lack of linear thought on your part. I view it as your problem, not mine. What is my mistake and for what should I apologize?

    However, you’ve piqued my curiosity again. Why did you raise the issue of internment camps? Are you saying that people who don’t use English as a primary language, or who don’t think in English (to use your point), should be put in internment camps like we did to Japanese Americans in WWII? I’ll go on record with the contrary view and say I don’t think that is a good idea. In fact, I’ll say that I think it is immoral. But, I’m still not clear if that is what you are proposing by bringing in that issue. I hope not.


  2. Maybe I missed the subtlety of your poser. When you asked the question “where did I suggest sticking anyone in a concentration camp?”, you were hinting that you were about to do that, not that you already had. Sure enough, a couple of comments later, you bring up that subject. I’m still baffled as to what it has to do with the Pledge in Spanish, or with our discussion of whether someone for whom English is not their first language can be an American. I hope you’re not trying to say that Japanese Internment camps provide a model for how we should treat people whose first language is not English and who do not think in English (how would we know?) That seems remarkably un-American. Perhaps you could elaborate on why you think Japanese Internment camps have relevance to this post. I think you will find very few Americans who think that that experience was anything other than an injustice to many loyal American citizens.


    1. So you finally read the references and have some idea of what you were talking about?

      When you are trying to cover up your embarrassment, does it really help to behave like a troll? You don’t even have to admit a mistake or apologize. Just move on to something else.


  3. You brought up concentration camps, Tom and set me a poser. You said: Where did I [Tom] suggest sticking anyone in a concentration camp?” I replied that I had no idea, that I saw nothing about that anywhere in the post or the comments that came after. A direct response to your puzzling question. Now you state that I brought up something “off topic” and provide a link to Japanese internment camps. Utterly baffling. Have a cup of coffee and try to stay focussed, man. I’m beginning to think you’re hallucinating.


  4. Gee, I don’t know, Tom. Where did you suggest sticking anyone in a concentration camp? You’ve completely stumped me. Is this like one of those kids’ magazine quizzes where you try to find something hidden in a picture? I’ve read through the whole thread and still can’t find where you suggested sticking anyone in a concentration camp. I’m totally mystified. If you did that, you hid it well and have completely eluded my powers of detection. If you show me where you hid it, I’ll be grateful, but hope that it’s not reflective of your real views, but is more of a parlour trick of some sort.

    When I’m ill, I prefer real cures to placebos, but I’m not sure how that relates to the Pledge theme of the post. I address these medical themes here only out of politeness since you raise it.

    You’re quite right about how immigrant communities assimilate. I think we’re agreeing on this. It usually takes three generations, sometimes a bit less, sometimes a bit more.

    Jim Crow is an extension of another horrible blight, slavery. I see no reason to talk “quietly and calmly” about either. They are moral outrages about which we all, whatever our ethnicity, should be permanently outraged. The issue can be addressed, but it should never be addressed without an undergirding of moral outrage. I guess I’m not really sure what your point is in that last paragraph unless it is that we should be able to talk calmly about the ghetto-ization of the African America community. One thing is the way we talk about it. But we can never approach the subject with equanimity. This is a blight on our American ideals and should always be addressed with urgency.

    @ Debbie: Tom has his quirks, but being “explicit” is generally not among them (see, e.g., the puzzling reference to concentration camps in his last comment and a reference to Christianity in the 0842 comment). I do agree, however, that this can be entertaining and worth every second [!]”


  5. “I just said they are not Americans.”

    The “just” part of that statement is jarring and not nearly as minimalist as you think it is. That’s a momentously exclusionary statement that would have disqualified half of my family and I guess some of yours. There were a few of my forebears for whom German was their primary language, but who wore the uniform and took enemy fire on behalf of the Nation. They were Americans in every sense of the word. There were Japanese Americans for whom Japanese was their primary language who served and died in Europe in World War II. They were Americans in every sense of the word. I could go on at some length, but the point is adequately made. I won’t allow you to be the unchallenged gatekeeper of honorable men’s Americanism.

    By the way, I don’t think there is a “movement in this nation to open the borders and let anyone who wants to come in.” There are a lot positions on immigration policy, but that is not one that I’ve heard advanced with any seriousness by anyone.

    In any event, that wasn’t what drew me to this thread. I’ll leave it by stating my sincerely held view that English is a very useful language, one which helps greatly in moving up through our culture and society, and one which every immigrant should try to master. Most do acquire some degree of facility with it, certainly far more facility than you or I might acquire in Urdu (for example) if we were to emigrate to Pakistan. In any event, it takes care of itself fairly quickly by the third generation, often sooner. That has been our historical experience and the pace of language assimilation is probably faster now than it was a century ago, simply because there are so many more channels of exposure.

    But if some kids learn the Pledge in another language, I have no more problem with that than I do with my having been taught the Lord’s Prayer in Latin and Greek when I was a schoolboy. There may not have been a great advantage to doing that, but it did no harm.


    1. When we speak, we convey an imperfect model of how we perceive some aspect of reality to another. So I say something you don’t want to hear, and what do you do? Do you examine the model carefully? No. You just go hyperbolic and make an extreme misrepresentation. Where did I suggest sticking anyone in a concentration camp? 🙄

      What we do not understand, we cannot be. If we do not understand what it means to be an American, how can we be one? Someone can call us an American, but if means nothing to us, what is the point? It makes us feel good? When you are sick, is the only medicine you want a sugar pill?

      What happens when people first come to this nation? Don’t they act as human beings are wont to act? So it is that many new arrivals congregate with people they perceive as being like themselves. Thus, when different groups first settled America they formed communities that were Dutch, German, Irish, English, Italian, and so forth. Today, we have still have such communities, but they are composed of peoples from various parts Asia, Mexico, Cuba, and so forth. Eventually, however, second and third generation immigrants usually leave their separated communities. Why? Instead of being fearful of America, they embrace it. They become Americans.

      Consider a huge and glaring exception. Those are the black ghettos in this nation. Slavery and Jim Crow left the descendents of slaves still fearful of what it means to be an American. Thus, many blacks remain in ghettos. Even if they understand what it means to be an American, they feel rejected. Yet to talk about such things quietly and calmly often earns a pejorative. That happens whenever what we say is not PC. So, because it is almost impossible to discuss the issue, it is equally difficult to do anything about it.


  6. It’s not a “nit” to disavow the productive participation in the American Dream of many Americans for whom English is not their primary language. You clarified in your second comment that you realized that I was correct that you had indeed implied that. I have not heard you disavow the sentiment. In fact, you sort of doubled down on your claim by saying that “If you are an American, you are living among Americans. That means your are speaking English, and you are thinking in English.” Your words not mine.

    A lot of Americans are not living among Americans, especially over the past decade or so. A lot of them are using language skills that are hard-won and valuable. And now, you expand your English language expectations to say that “thinking in English” is expected. Nonsense. Even when I achieve a strong proficiency in another language I still tend to think in English. Many of my American friends who emigrated here speak very good English, but still think and dream in their native language. What’s so bloody important about thinking in English?

    In any event, plug in your definition of “success” and let me know if I adequately captured your intended meaning in my remedial effort.

    In order to avoid sounding like a frightened nativist, one has to avoid careless phrasing that implies that not speaking English as a first (“primary” – from the Latin “primus”) language is in some way a demerit in American society.

    The word “facially” refers to the surface (or “on its face”) meaning or appearance of something. I hope that helps.

    I agree that a country where no one spoke anyone else’s language would be a very difficult, frustrating and dysfunctional place to work. Outside of ancient Babel, I know of no such places. English is a very useful lingua franca not only as a bridge between groups here in the U.S., but, perhaps even more importantly, throughout the world. It serves a purpose that koina Greek served in the Mediterranean world during the Roman Empire.

    I have no desire to work as a translator. It is demanding, technical work, subject to many pitfalls. I have other employment to which I am more suited. I doubt that being a translator yields much empowerment, in any event.

    No – you don’t have to explain everything. The particular item on which I requested explanation on was the relevance of the “Christian nation” reference in your comment. That seemed to hang in mid-air and had nothing to with either the post or the comments. I thought perhaps it crept in by accident from some other thread.


    1. Scout — I see you don’t like having your nits picked. 😀

      You seem to be well-informed. You are also not a first time visitor to this blog. Unless you deliberately choose to believe otherwise, what make you think I would have anything against knowing multiple languages? Please give me the benefit of the doubt, and I will happily return the favor.

      We have a movement in this nation to open our borders and let anyone who wants to come in. That’s national suicide, and some people, myself included, have said so.

      One problem we risk is creating a bilingual society. The costs of such of thing far outweigh any benefits. Nevertheless, we have teachers promoting such a thing by requiring children to learn the pledge in Spanish. Stupid!

      If we want to be Americans, we each must be able to communicate with other Americans. Moreover, we must communicate regularly, making the language we use to communicate with each other our primary language. That may sound unreasonable, but how does one become an American? Think about it.

      Since the vast majority of us still speak English, it makes sense for English to be the primary language of an American.

      Did I disavow the productive participation in the American Dream of Americans for whom English is not their primary language? Not really. I just said they are not Americans. Anyone who does not have English as their primary language is still holding back on participating in America.

      What’s the American Dream? That dream something we each make for ourselves. To be an American is to know you have the right to pursue your own definition of happiness. How does one learn that? Americans communicate that to each other in English.


  7. You said that persons whose “primary” language is not English are not Americans. I said I know (and I suspect hundreds of millions of Americans also know) loyal, productive Americans for whom English is not their primary language. It may even be their third or fourth language. Your statement is facially counter-factual.

    Perhaps you meant to say something along the lines of: “if you wish to succeed and be productive in this or any other country, your chances to do so are considerably enhanced if you have facility in the dominant language of the country. In the United States, that language is English.”

    If my re-jiggering of your statement accurately states your intended position, I whole-heartedly agree with it. Otherwise, you end up sounding like one of these frightened nativists who regards Americans for whom English is a secondary or tertiary language as somehow inferior citizens, or, even worse, not citizens at all. I’m sure that’s not the message you wanted to convey.

    But I do disagree strongly with your idea that we don’t want to “empower” people who are multi-lingual. Of course we want to empower people who speak more than one language. We are a language-deprived country and a language-deprived culture. This is a great nation with huge global responsibilities. We absolutely want to promote as much language literacy as possible. We are not even particularly adept in the use of English. We need to address that defect and we need to stimulate as much multi-lingual facility as possible throughout the population. Such skills in the population are essential for national economic competitiveness and national security. That’s not a division of the nation – that’s an enrichment of the nation.

    As to language transitions, I also agree with you that when one uses a language a great deal, even if it is not one’s birth language, one has to adjust when one returns to an environment where another language is used. I don’t think that has anything to do with anything in the post or whether children learn better or more meaningfully in a birth language. But your German friend’s experience is quite common, regardless of which languages we are talking about. I have experienced this myself on returning to the US after long assignments abroad.

    By the way, what’s all this stuff about “Christianity is not a nation. . . .” etc? I have no idea how that relates to the post or to my previous comment. Did that sneak in from elsewhere?


    1. I clarified my statement, but you chose to ignore the fact. At that point, who is at fault?

      There is a difference between picking what someone says apart and trying to understand what they are trying to say.

      First paragraph. “Your statement is facially counter-factual.” What does that mean? I said nothing about anyone’s face.

      Second paragraph. You did not define success. Everyone has their own definition of success. How do you know whether your definition suits anyone else except you?

      Third paragraph. In order to avoid being a frightened nativist, it appears that you want us all to learn three languages. I doubt that’s impression you want to convey, but since I am just trying to pick what you are saying apart for the sake of establishing my overwhelming intellectual superiority…

      Here is the best one. Fourth paragraph. “We are a language-deprived country and a language-deprived culture.” Any situation, anything, anyone…. has it pluses and minuses. So I suppose calling a nation where everyone speaks the same language a language-deprived country and a language-deprived culture sounds sophisticated. Think it through. What would be the opposite extreme? Would a nation where everyone speaks their own unique tongue be “language endowed?”

      Fifth paragraph. You speak another language? That’s what you imply. Perhaps that reflects your desire — bias — to be empowered as a translator by fragmenting our society into multiple language groups.

      Sixth paragrap. Do I have to explain everything?

      The point? We are sheep. If you want to find something you disagree with and nitpick, you can. I have done it. I know it is easy. Any sheep has plenty of nits to pick.

      Do I make mistakes? Get irritated and speak too quickly? Yes. Nevertheless, having children memorize the Pledge Of Allegiance in any other language besides English reflects a desire for disunity, not unity, and that is contrary to the whole point of the Pledge. You disagree? Fine. Make that argument, and stop the nitpicking.


  8. I can think of a number of very productive and prominent Americans for whom English was a second, third or fourth language. Where does the idea come from that if one’s “primary language” is not English, one is not an “American”? Virtually any immigrant from a non-English-speaking country will never be able to claim English as a “primary” language.

    In this country, or any other country, one is much more likely to be successful if one masters the dominant language (which remains English here). No doubt about it. But the Pledge is a thirty-word recitation that doesn’t say much about a kid’s progress in learning English. I would rather a child know what it means, than what its words are. If a Spanish-speaking kid learns the pledge in a language he/she understands, shouldn’t the take-away for the rest of us be that he’s saying something that means something, not simply mouthing sounds learned by rote?

    At one point in my checkered education, I had to learn the Lord’s Prayer both in Latin and Greek and still remember large swatches of them in both languages (plus a couple of modern European languages). But, although the Latin sticks with me fairly well and I don’t actively translate it in my head when I say it (the Greek, alas is another matter – that remains very much just sounds to me), the Prayer meant much more to me at the time in my native language.

    Immigrants tend to acquire a host country language very quickly. By the third generation, the transition is complete. That certainly was the case with my family and studies show that it is very true today, where there are many more opportunities in popular culture and mass media for immigrant children to pick up the dominant language. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Pledge’s words, and would concentrate more on its meaning.


    1. Don’t put words in my mouth. I said nothing about English as a primary language. I said English is the language of the United States.

      Christianity is not a nation. As Christians we are to take the Gospel to everyone and make disciples of them for Christ Jesus. We have no commission to make Americans of them.

      We have people in this nation who know more than one language. That is good, but most of us do not. If we want to talk to and understand other Americans, then we need to speak English. If we want to empower people who know more than one language — well, that’s stupid. So why go there? To deliberately divide any nation into multiple language groups is dumber than door nails.


    2. I suspect these words are confusing.

      There is nothing wrong with people whose primary language is not English. They are just not Americans.

      That is a fact. If you are an American, then you are living among Americans. That means you are speaking English, and you are thinking in English.

      Years ago I had a German friend who had lived in the United States for about a decade. When he went back to Germany for a visit, it took him several weeks to become comfortable speaking German again. English had become his primary language.

      Think about the trouble you and I have communicating. What if one of us did not speak English?


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