I have got to tell you: I've been staring at this clip of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani disparaging Barack Obama's contention that Americans should strive to learn foreign languages for about fifteen minutes now, and I've come to believe that the best argument for bilingualism is that I just can't find the English word that captures how perplexingly stupid this man is. I have to imagine that there's some thirteen syllable German word out there that sounds like one's sinuses being forcibly cleared that does this trick.
Basically, Giuliani believes that learning a foreign tongue is "a terrific thing." I should think so! Americans have to compete in a global marketplace economically, and there's no end of talk about how we're in desperate need of language specialists to serve any number of national security purposes. But Giuliani seems to think that Obama, by encouraging people to learn Spanish, is taking away from English: "English should be the basic language of this country." In the first place, there is no "should be" - English is, in fact, the basic language of this country and that is in no way under any sort of threat. In the second, do you know what's really useful to those who teach Spanish-speaking immigrants English? KNOWING HOW TO SPEAK SPANISH.
Also, Rudy says that Obama's popular in Europe because he reinforces "anti-American feelings." Know what's really reinforced feelings of anti-Americanism? President Bush and his policies! And that guy went to Yale and still speaks our mother tongue like he was Jar Jar Binks. Rudy Giuliani: what a shonde.
GIULIANI: This is why he's a popular candidate in Europe, because there is such an anti-American feeling, he's sort of capturing that. The reality is that this is a country that should speak English. Of course immigrants should learn English. That's a problem for some, it is not a problem for others. There should be a lot of emphasis put on that. If we can learn an extra language or two, that's a great thing.
MITCHELL: The fact is that American kids are not competing on the world stage with the kind of jobs they need because they aren't learning other languages.
GIULIANI: But he is making an assumption that isn't true, That all immigrants are learning English. They're not. All you have to do is travel America and you'll find out a lot of people aren't learning English. Most immigrant families want their children to learn English. That has to be done. He's kind of sliding over that as if that's unimportant. That is very important. Then if we're going to learn another language, that's wonderful. If we can learn French or Spanish or Italian or German or Chinese or Russian, that's a terrific thing. But English should be the basic language of this country. He's kind of sliding over that.
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