Speak English or Get Out? Huh?

August 5, 2010

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Redneck Country, Louisiana

DON’T TELL ME TO SPEAK ENGLISH

OR LEAVE!

I was at a book fair recently hawking some of my Lisburn Press publications, and was asked to comment on the nation’s immigration problem. One fellow apparently didn’t like my response. “Oh, I know all about you writers out there with your fancy English degrees.  You think you have a lot more common sense then us rednecks.”

All right, I’ll admit it. I do live in a semi cosmopolitan city of Baton Rouge, received part of my education outside the U.S. and have traveled the world a good bit.  But you can’t take the Ferriday redneck out of city folks like me.  I have a pick up as well as an old SUV with 180,000 miles on it.  They both have driven the back roads of north Louisiana on many occasions. I laugh at, and mostly agree with all the “you must be a redneck” jokes.  (You must be a redneck if you know instinctively that red wine goes with possum.)  And by the way, I have a great possum recipe coming out in my updated version of “Jim Brown’s World Famous Squirrel Stew and other Country Recipes.”Anyone who came from the same southern country town that raised Jerry Lee Lewis and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart certainly qualifies as a card-carrying redneck.  So assuming you accept my credentials, you might be surprised at my reaction to a bumper sticker I saw driving down a gravel road just past Frogmore, Louisiana.  (That’s right. Frogmore — about 15 minutes west of Ferriday if you check your map.) A truck ahead of me on the back windshield displayed the driver’s feelings in no uncertain terms:  You’re in America Now; Speak English or Get Out!” 

Now I know it’s the political rage throughout the country to demand that English should be the official language.  And quite frankly, I agree.  That is, from the public perspective.  I occasionally get a bit irritated when I’m told to “press one for English, two for Spanish” etc.  If a U.S. governmental body insists on printing forms, giving tests, and processing governmental applications only in English, then that is how the process works. 

Here is where states’ rights come in.  If any state feels the need to offer services in another language, that should be their prerogative.  In some areas of my home state of Louisiana, French is the only language spoken by older Cajuns.  Grocery stores in some small south Louisiana communities put up daily specials in French, and the southern part of the state has a number of radio stations that carry French Cajun music.  In the southeast corner of the state, a number of publications appear in Vietnamese to service the growing Asia community of immigrating fisherman.

But a strong “English Only” backlash is growing. In the current Alabama governor’s race, Republican candidate Tim James makes no bones about his pandering.  His TV commercials cry out:  “We speak English, so if you cannot speak English or refuse to speak English, get out of Alabama and our country.”  Here’s what widely circulated blogger Michael Murphy has to say about our language.  I find myself becoming more and more indigent over how some neighborhoods in this country look more like neighborhoods in other countrys. You want to go to a place that looks like China, I say go to China. This is America. Is it right that I can’t go into a resturant on American soil without an encyclopedia? I mean, what the heck is rigatoni? I ordered it because their wasnt spagetty on the menu and they said it was like spagetty, but it wasnt. It was these strange tubes, so there liars too.That’s right.  This guy’s comments circulate the worldwide web. (The multiple spelling errors are his, not mine.)  And hey, Michael, you don’t have to go to the orient to see what the world’s largest country looks like. Just check out the Chinatown sections of most major east and west coast cities in the U.S.So what’s up with this sudden assault on the multicultural speak in the U.S?   Take a look at Washington. The American job market has been annihilated, and unemployment still hangs today around 10%.  We hear a lot about “trickle down.”  The disastrous economic policies put in place by the Washington gang of congress and regulators that bailed out Wall Street, but dumped on Main Street, have now trickled down to the average Joe, who is fighting economically to keep his head above water. 

So it is easy to understand why this same Joe blames his economic woes on the so-called “illegal” immigrants he sees working all around him.As columnist Mark Crovelli writes:  “He sees foreigners mowing lawns all over town, cooking meals in virtually every restaurant he patronizes, and installing every roof in the neighborhood, and he reasons that his current plight is due primarily to the fact that these foreigners “steal” jobs that otherwise would be his for the taking.  However, the biggest insult of all, to his mind, is the fact that these foreigners don’t have the courtesy to speak his language, and yet they still manage to find and steal jobs from English-speaking Americans like him!”

This opens a whole new can of worms as to why so many “legals” cannot compete, or will not compete against half literate immigrants who don’t speak English.  When I drive around my home town of Baton Rouge, I see Latinos on their way to work cleaning my neighborhood houses, installing new roofs all over town, mowing yards, busing at many local restaurants, and maintaining local golf courses.  Employers say they would rather hire American workers, but just cannot find willing labor. Many of these same employers are taking Spanish lessons so as to better communicate with their growing workforce.

The problem is not in my neighborhood, or my city, but in the nation’s capitol.  Both Republicans and Democrats have continually dodged the challenge to find a comprehensive solution to the whole immigration mess that these same lawmakers allowed to take place. Congress (both parties) created a housing bubble that attracted millions of Latinos to enter the U.S. illegally, and go to work on the overheated and unsustainable housing market that was desperate for new workers.  Paraphrasing Pogo, “We have found the problem, and the problem was created by those we sent to Washington.”

So, until congress finds the courage to have some backbone and face this immigration mess head on, the rest of the country has little choice but to stand by and wait, with the occasional quixotic jousting that we are observing in Arizona.But what about “Speak English or Get Out?”  Look, I’ll stay out of your face and you stay out of mine.  Don’t tell me what language I can or cannot speak.  I don’t need big brother telling me what to do.  If I want to go around speaking any foreign language, that’s my right as an American.  I will not voluntarily stand by and let my redneck friend or Big Brother set the parameters as to how I can or cannot communicate.  When you tell me what language to speak, then you start down the path of telling me what I can speak, or whether I can even speak at all.

So to all my friends, redneck like me or otherwise, pick and choose your fights wisely. The problem is the overspending, money wasting, high taxing, and freedom limiting bureaucrats in Washington who lack the courage to set this country in the right direction with a little common sense.  You up there! Take care of the economic chaos you created.  And for goodness sake, leave me and poor Pedro alone.                                                                              *****

“English?  Who needs that?  I’m never going to England!”    Homer Simpson 

                                                                              *****

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the South.  You can read all is past columns and see continuing updates at www.jimbrownla.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am central time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.                                                                 

Phillip Lionel Barton: Map Librarian, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.(Obituary)

The Globe July 1, 2011 | Marshall, Brian Phil Barton was born in Cleathorpes, Lincolnshire, England, in 1925. He spent the last year of his formal education studying navigation at the Nautical School in Grimsby. Phil served with the Royal Air Force from 1943 to 1952, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force from 1952 to 1965. At one time Phil was the Administration Sergeant for the Air Force, and one of his tasks was maintaining a large collection of aeronautical manuals and maps covering airways and military and civilian airfields. The maintenance of this collection involved indexing, and dealing with the numerous replacements and amendments. When this job came to an end Phil arranged a transfer from administration to the RNZAF Education Service as a librarian. This he did from 1958 to 1965, at both Wigram and Whenuapai. Phil obtained his New Zealand Library Association Certificate in 1963 (and was granted an Associateship of the New Zealand Library Association in 1971).

Phil joined the National Library Service (NZ) in 1965, and worked on Graham Bagnall’s retrospective New Zealand National Bibliography to the year 1960. He became Map Librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1973, and held that position until August 1986, when he retired.

His mapping interests included Maori cartography, and mapping the Tararua Ranges, and he had papers published on these topics. He contributed a chapter to volume 2 of the History of Cartography (University of Chicago Press, 1998) titled ‘Maori cartography and the European Encounter’. Phil was a keen and accomplished tramper, and occasionally was involved in search and rescue operations when others got into trouble. His other interests included photography, navigation and book collecting. He managed to build up a magnificent collection of books relating to mapping and navigation. He was keen on radio, and was a member of the New Zealand Radio DX League. Phil had an impressive receiver which allowed him to listen to radio stations from many exotic places. As his health deteriorated Phil realised that he would have to dispose of his radio equipment, and much of it was donated to the Wellington Amateur Radio Club. see here new zealand map

He acted as Secretary and President of the New Zealand Map Keepers Circle / NZ Map Society at various times, and was a life member of the NZ Map Society. He was a regular attendee at the Society’s seminars. He also served on the committee of the New Zealand Cartographic Society, and on the ARANZ Cartographic Archives Committee.

The last annual seminar of the New Zealand Map Society that Phil attended was in 2004. After that he lost touch with the Society, and rather sadly suffered from memory loss in his later years.

Phil belonged to a variety of other cartographic organisations. These included, from time to time, the Australian Institute of Cartographers, the British Cartographic Society, the Australian Map Curators’ Circle, and the Society of University Cartographers. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a member of the Hakluyt Society and the Society for the History of Discoveries.

Phil will be remembered for his enormous passion for maps, his considerable knowledge of them, and for always asking questions of speakers at Map Society conferences. He will be remembered as a slender wiry and amazingly fit man, always leading the way (from way out in front) when on a Map Society fieldtrip. Phil will be remembered for his interesting attire–even in the middle of winter he would wear shorts. He will also be remembered for his loud laugh, which was easily heard above the noise of any pub gathering.

Phillip Lionel Barton was born on 4 December 1925. He died peacefully on 17 June 2010 at Elizabeth Memorial Hospital, in his 85th year.

Publications about Barton:

SCADDEN, KEN, 1990, ‘The Barton Years’, New Zealand Map Society Journal, 4: 7.

[MARSHALL, BRIAN], 2001, ‘Cartobibliographies 2: Phil Barton’, Datum, 14: 9-10.

Publications by Barton:

1975, ‘Maps and Maori settlement to 1860′, New Zealand Cartographic Journal, 5(1): 2-3.

1976, ‘Bishop Selwyn’s Map’, Turnbull Library Record, 9:49.

1977, Aotearoa takes shape: an exhibition of maps and charts from the collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library illustrating the supposed great southern continent and the destruction of this myth and the emergence and mapping of New Zealand, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, 20pp. web site new zealand map

1977, ‘A bibliography of material relating to the surveying and mapping of New Zealand’, The Globe, 8: 14-22. Also appears in New Zealand Cartographic Journal 7(1): 28-33 & 7(2): 19-23 and Bulletin, Geography & Map Division, Special Libraries Association, 109: 24-32.

1978, ‘New Zealand topographical maps: a status report’, Information Bulletin, Western Association of Map Librarians, 9: 219-220.

1978, ‘N.Z. maps: selection and acquisition’, New Zealand Libraries, 41:76-77 1978, ‘Maori geographical knowledge and maps of New Zealand’, Papers from the 45th Conference, Hamilton … 1978, compiled by A.P.U. Millett. NZ Library Assoc., Wellington, 181-189.

1979, ‘New Zealand metric topographical maps: 1:50,000 & 1:250,000′, New Zealand Geographer, 34: 110. Reprinted 1980, The Globe, 12: 78-81.

1979, ‘The National Map Collection’, New Zealand Mapkeepers Circle Newsletter, 7: 17.

1979, ‘A guide to the selection and acquisition of New Zealand maps’, Bulletin, Geography & Map Division, Special Libraries Association, 116: 36-39.

1980, ‘Maori geographical knowledge and mapping: a synopsis’, Turnbull Library Record, 13(1): 1-25. reprinted 1988, New Zealand Map Society Journal, 2: 2-21.

1980, ‘A National Union Catalogue of Maps (New Zealand): NUCM (NZ)’, The Globe, 12: 17-23; New Zealand Mapkeepers Circle Newsletter, 8: 14-17 and two other sources.

1980, ‘New Zealand National Bibliography’, New Zealand Mapkeepers Circle Newsletter, 8: 29-30.

1980, ‘The concept of a national map collection: Is it possible? Is it obsolete?’, The Globe, 12: 24-29; New Zealand Mapkeepers Circle Newsletter, 10: 17-20 & two other sources.

1980, ‘5th New Zealand Mapkeepers Circle seminar’ (report), The Globe, 12: 35-36.

1980, ‘The history of the mapping of New Zealand’, The Map Collector, 11: 28-35.

1980, ‘Maps and New Zealand archaeologists’, New Zealand Archaeological Association Newsletter, 23(3): 178-183.

1981, The surveying and mapping of Wellington province 1840-76; an exhibition of manuscript maps, field books, sketches and water colours, photographs, a textbook and survey instruments … Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, 19pp.

1981, ‘Map collections and map librarianship in New Zealand: a synopsis’, Library Trends, 29: 537-545.

1982, ‘Map transit and storage’, Archifacts, 22:591-596.

1982, ‘Major national mapping agencies of New Zealand’, Bulletin, Geography & Map Division, Special Libraries Association, 129:58.

1982, ‘Report of Seventh New Zealand Map Keepers Seminar’, The Globe, 17: 66-67.

1983, ‘New Zealand historical map collections’, ImagoMundi, 35: 102.

1983, ‘Aspects of New Zealand national cartobibliography 1933-82′, New Zealand Mapkeepers Circle Newsletter, 15: 3-9.

1983, Letter [re.: Limits of Oceans and Seas, ed.3, International Hydrographic Bureau, 1953], The Globe, 20: 59.

1984, ‘Maps for direction finding and navigation with emphasis on those held in the map collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library’, New Zealand Mapkeepers Circle Newsletter, 17: 2-7.

1985, ‘Of maps and men!’, Archifacts, 1985(3): 5-8.

1986, ‘James Cook’s charts and draughtsmen’, Archifacts, 1986(3): 26.

1987, ‘Opening Address, 12th New Zealand Map Keepers Circle Seminar’, New Zealand Map Society Journal, 1: 2.

1991, ‘The map and place name concepts of pre-literate peoples with special reference to Maori map concepts and place names’, New Zealand Cartographic and Geographic Information systems, 21(1): 1016. Also appeared as ‘Map and place name concepts of pre-literate peoples’, New Zealand Map Society Journal, 5:13-17.

1995, ‘History of Cartography: Indigenous Mapping’, New Zealand Map Society Journal, 9:61-62.

1996/7, ‘Surveying and mapping the Tararua Mountain system’, Historical Journal, Otaki Historical Society, 19: 16-27 & 20: 40-50.

1998, ‘Maori Cartography and the European Encounter’, The History of Cartography, vol.2, pt.3 Traditional cartography in African, American, Arctic, Australian and Pacific Societies, David Woodward & G. Malcolm Lewis (eds.), University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, pp.493-536.

Marshall, Brian


2 comments
jimbrownla
jimbrownla

Let me answer Olcoot. He says: "If I move to France, I’ll learn French" Good for you. but that's YOUR choice. If you want to live there and speak whatever you want, so what? Who should care? Do your thing, but leave me alone. As long as I obey the law, I should be allowed to learn or not learn any thing I care to. As long as I obey the law, I should be able to speak whatever language I want. Government should leave me alone.

Olcoot
Olcoot

I also grew up here, a country boy, and knew a few folks who took English as a second language in High School. "We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." Theodore Roosevelt, 1907. The illegal immigration problem is a completely separate issue. The issue here is allegiance. If I move to France, I'll learn french; if I move to Italy, I'll learn italian; if I move to Australia, I'll learn to speak whatever it is they speak there (it certainly isn't english!). You move to America, learn the language.

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