Thursday, April 5, 2007

Follow-up: Gingrich tries to backtrack from "ghetto" comments

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich posted a video on YouTube relating to remarks made a few days ago equating Spanish with the “language of living in a ghetto.” Gingrich speaks in Spanish in the video and tries to clarify that Spanish is “a beautiful language” and that he has been taking lessons in Spanish “for a while now.” Yet he does not back down from his political rhetoric against bilingual education, advocates English as a “single common language,” and refrains from directly apologizing for his original insult against Spanish:

So let’s see if I get this straight- Spanish is a “beautiful language” yet it’s also equated with abject poverty? But it’s “beautiful” only if famous well-to-do politicians like Newt Gingrich speak it? Yet if it’s “ghetto” in the first place then why try to learn it? I am confused.

However, I’m not one to keep a grudge, so I would like to provide Newt with the following suggestion if he is reading this blog post: why not go teach English at a local school in a lower-class community? If you truly mean what you said in your video communiqué then do something constructive or else cynics (like myself) will interpret your words as empty rhetoric. As the cliché goes, put your money where your mouth is.

(Hat tip: Wonkette).

Links- Huffington Post, Wonkette, YouTube, The Latin Americanist


Anonymous said...

What is really the problem in learning English? I am an immigrant myself and have always felt that learning English gives you an edge anywhere you go around the world. Instead of splitting what's a ghetto language and what's not, why not look at learning languages which are passport to any major business city/region of the world. Why do the Hispanic community just want to stick to Latino?

Erwin C. said...

The problem is not whether or not to learn English. The more multi-lingual we all are the more opportunities we have to advance ourselves as a society. Heck, that's why i've taken classes in Portuguese and italian. (Admittedly, a work in progress!)

The problem becomes of exploiting language as political rhetoric which was what Gingrich did by first claiming that it's a "ghetto" language then calling it "beautiful" in his mea culpa. It reeks of hypocrisy though he can make up for it which is why I suggested that he do smething constructive (teach English at a lower-income school).