Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Todos somos Americanos

Be they documented immigrants, the influx of as many as 100,000 Spanish-speaking migrant workers is a positive for the New Orleans area. Nevertheless, there are a number of ignorant voices in the community criticizing The Times-Picayune for printing a Sunday story in both English and Spanish, arguing that people should learn English when they come to the United States.

Ignoramuses like Gerard Gaudin -- who lives in white-flight Metairie -- must believe that God ordained that all people in the United States speak English:

I do not read or speak Spanish because I live in the United States.

What Gaudin seems to forget is that there remain in Louisiana a significant number of people of French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Native American heritage (among possible others) who still respect and use the language of their ancestors. Granted, they don't need to see The Times-Picayune printed in the language of their ancestors, it is nonetheless true that the very strength of New Orleans has always been its unique multi-cultural character.

I wonder if Gaudin still speaks the language of his ancestors. I wonder if he wished he could. Maybe he should change his French name to an English name like Gordon. Then again, English itself is a bastardization of so many other languages, it is itself the product of the mixing of cultures --which is why it might be the most dynamic language, and one of the most difficult to learn.

I don't disagree that Spanish-speaking immigrants should learn to speak English. In fact, I think they should learn Spanish too!

The fact that immigrants don't speak English is more likely the result of a poor education than it is lack of willingness. They want to learn English. A significant number of Spanish-speaking immigrants, however, are illiterate in their native language, unable to read or write Spanish at the most basic level. Try teaching fully grown adults English when they can't even read or write in their own language!

To go a step further, while I agree that immigrants should learn English -- and that their level of education be brought up to a respectable U.S. standard so they can fully participate in the economy -- I think every single native-born United States citizen should have to learn another language so that the United States can succeed as a multi-cultural participant in the international economy of tomorrow today! An argument could easily be made that those who fail to learn another language are lazy, and diminish the competitive potential of the United States.

Critics might spend their time more wisely criticizing the influx of people who speak English!

What about the scumbag English-speaking contract workers and English-speaking prostitutes frequenting the French Quarter?

What about the gangbangers dealing drugs and shooting at each other, and at innocent bystanders, on a daily basis again, like this hit at Washington and Annunciation.

Michael DeMocker/Times-Picayune

And where is the outcry against fly-by-night English-speaking contractors who hire both legal and illegal immigrants for back-breaking, dangerous work, abusing them and then disappearing without paying them?!

Mr. Gaudin ought to take his French foot out of his English-speaking piehole and use it instead to help people learn English. The Hispanic Apostolate of New Orleans, among other agencies, has for years actively sought to teach immigrants of all nationalities English-speaking skills (464-5478,

If we were to let Metairians tell us how to do things in New Orleans, we'd be left with nothing but truck parades during Mardi Gras, and franchise shops and restaurants in strip malls, instead of local boutique shops and restaurants on Magazine Street!

No thanks Mr. Gaudin. Start your own narrow-minded newspaper in Metairie if you choose to remain ignorant and sheltered!

The rest of us (here, here, and here) appreciate the exposure to other cultures.

Tags: | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Hurricane Katrina One Year Anniversary


At 10/11/2006 05:25:00 PM, Blogger TravelingMermaid said...

Bravo! Well stated.

At 10/12/2006 12:31:00 PM, Anonymous duncan said...



When I first moved to NO all the "in dat number" who dat" "de Saints" stuff really through me off. I'd see a sign for "Bake Chicken" and think it was advice, like "Buy Milk".
In the last 2 years there was, sadly but hilariously, an official one outside a school on St Claude. Obviously composed by the teachers or principal urging the students to concentrate with Leap tests or something coming up, it read: STAY FOCUS.

Oh, & Metairie is not all white, all dumb or all racist.


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