Monday, September 05, 2005

Xenophobic Republicans Hate You (and me too...)

The xenophobic republicans strike again. The NYTimes posted an article today which cites Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado who wrote an open letter to Mayor John W. Hickenlooper of Denver slamming the inclusion of non-English materials and services in libraries. This is in the wake of the removal of four Spanish-language adult comics supposedly because of lewd content, even though the comics were properly filed in the Denver library's adult-only section (containing other graphically explicit material).

"When you have a strong cultural identity and there aren't set incentives to become American, it creates a lot of tension and divides the community," said Mr. Tancredo's spokesman, Will Adams.
What is it with the Republicans and their English-only ideal of America? Sure, America was built as a white worker's paradise, but it hasn't been that since before the Gold Rush era. America is a country built on the backs of immigrants, of all races, ethnicities, and cultures. Every day, I listen to Lou Dobbs rail against Hispanic immigrants, complaining about the degradation of American culture. Well, last I checked, America was more than a language spoken and a phenotype born. Being American was supposed to be about the American Dream; about life, liberty and capitalism. Some of the best Americans I've met have been foreign-born; some of the most patriotic lovers of this country (defying all bigotry and intolerance) have been people whose affair with the States began an ocean away. A native-born American loves America because he was born here; an immigrant loves America because he sacrificed his entire life to come here. Coming from a family of immigrants, I find the "real American" xenophobia offensive. Besides which, libraries are intended to serve the local community surrounding them. They include books to aid in the pursuit of knowledge and awareness, intended to benefit the residents around them. Denver is 35% Hispanic, NYC contains the largest population of Asians on this side of the country. In Richmond Hill, a community that was soon known as the second Chinatown, the library I frequented had a rich collection of Chinese language newspapers, magazines, and translations of Reader's Digest. My mother loved this resource -- twenty years after she first stepped foot in Canada, she misses being able to read in the same language in which she thinks. Her English is fine (though as she gets older, her English is getting poorer) as is my father's, but both have an addiction to the World Journal, a Chinese-language newspaper they buy every day to tell them what Canadian news outlets won't: news of home. The rest of America encourages Tancredo's idea of Americanization -- neither of my parents would've been able to exist in English-speaking North America without assimilating into the language and culture of those around us. They learned English to get a job, to buy groceries, to put my sister and I through school. The library doesn't help them hide from their Americanization; it gives them a chance to feed their non-English roots and a reprieve from the difficulties of living in an alien country. Not to mention that having non-English resources in a library doesn't just help the people who speak the language as their mother tongue. Is it so incredible that Spanish books might help those Americans who are learning Spanish for the first time? Oh, right, I forgot; in Tancredo's myopic view of the world (the same thinking that fuels Bush's foreign policy approaches, incidentally) America is the only relevant country and culture in the world, and the concept of a person who wishes to pursue the knowledge of another language and culture is unthinkable. And un-American. Conservatives have been criticized, rightly or wrongly, as being anti-intellectual. But, before combatting this label, it might help if your party didn't do it to yourselves. Trying to censor access to books because you disagree with their content is a sure sign of placing propaganda and thought-police over the pursuit of academia and learning. In this increasingly conservative America (where the Republicans are in control of almost every tier of the government and 45% of Americans still support George W. Bush), the number of attempts by conservative groups to remove books from libraries is on the rise. Meanwhile, the Republicans are thrilled and hope to keep it up after 2008. Tancredo seems to have ambitions (or perhaps delusions) of running for the presidency after Bush's second term. According to the Washington Post, Tancredo has visited New Hampshire in the past month, a sure sign that he's testing the waters for a bid for the Republican nomination. I certainly hope he doesn't get anywhere; or perhaps I do, because it's a sure sign that the Republican party will lose that Hispanic base they've been touting for six years. I do have to applaud Tancredo for one thing though: at least he's honest about the real hatred Republicans have for minorities. In the face of stories like this, I'm boggled by the idea that any immigrant could vote to the right.


Anonymous Loren Javier said...

It's okay...I had xenophobic Republicans. So, I guess we're even. ;)

But, in all seriousness, I was listening to NPR earlier and they were doing a story on a Republican in Ohio wanting to run for President in 2008. His whole platform is how it's great that immigrants want to come here, but not the ones who don't want to conform and only want to stick with the "old ways." And, here I was under the impression that what made our country great was the diverse points of view that Americans have. But, leave it to Republicans that want to create a Stepford: The Country.

9/05/2005 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Loren Javier said...

urp...and, when I wrote, "I HAD xenophobic Republicans," I, of course, meant to say, "I HATE xenophobic Republicans."

9/05/2005 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

lol. it's alright loren, i never doubted you for a second!

seriously, what bothers me is not the xenophobic republicans, but the xenophobic democrats who tout similar stances.

9/06/2005 12:39:00 AM  

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