Friday, September 08, 2006

Ramble on... 'multicultural'


My 2-year old son has been watching a variety of shows aimed at enhancing social, cognitive and language skills. This includes 'multicultural' themes. Apparently 'multicultural' is now a synonym for "Mexican". Several shows feature Spanish language and Mexican culture, almost to the point of embarrassment.

In fact, I've not yet found a show that teaches anything specific about culture or language except Spanish. The local middle and high schools only offer Spanish right now. I guess that's so I can order a hamburger con queso.

I've started refreshing my foreign language skills (French and Latin, adding Gaelic soon) so I can teach my son what he won't be offered in school - variety.

At work, several employees are in the practice of speaking Spanish when they want to exclude non-speakers from the conversation, or to pass jokes they think we don't understand. The HR department has a 'Diversity Office' that is entirely populated by Hispanic women - they sent me a note of appreciation for supporting diversity by winning a photo competition. It turns out they thought I was Hispanic because of a misspelling of my last name... they then apologized for the confusion. Shiny.

Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against Mexicans. What I have a problem with is how I am being forced to adopt certain conventions because some people are too freaking lazy to learn the established language of a particular country. If I travel to a foreign country, I take it as a courtesy if they speak English. If I were to move there, I'd feel obligated to learn thier language, and I certainly wouldn't get a job interacting with the public. But in the US, Spanish is almost expected to be learned, and other tongues are fading from view.

Nearly every government form is in Spanish - driver's license, taxes, loan applications, etc. All available in Spanish. Try getting your driver's license application in Russian, or drop a little Greek at the voting booth.

Where are the other languages and cultures? When is it time to say 'up yours' and get English spoken by default? Why do I have to learn Spanish to get cheese on my fucking hamburger?

So much for the 'multi' part of multiculturalism...

Michael adds:

What do you expect when the US is allowing the southwestern states to be reannexed by Mexico?

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