We’ve had to endure a heck of a lot of political screaming and yelling lately over bilingual education.
Like many issues in this country, the two sides are far apart and unwilling to compromise. And that discord threatens to spread across the land.
So I’ve come up with a simple solution to this problem so that we can all live like brothers and sisters. But first let’s understand the complicated arguments.
The people who want to keep bilingualism shout that if we don’t keep it, then we’re a bunch of racists who would deny needy children the opportunity to thrive in America.
Meanwhile, the folks who want to get rid of bilingual education shout that it, too, is racist and that it denies needy children the opportunity to thrive in America.
That’s the problem with politics. If you suspect that somebody is even thinking about sticking their fork into your piece of pie, you’re forced to call them names on talk radio and raise cash for politicians who truly care about you and your family.
Anyone with half a brain, or yours truly, can tell you that both sides are wrong. The problem with this bilingual debate is that we’re talking bilingual. Bi is a Latin prefix that means two.
That means only two languages. So obviously, there’s not enough for the rest of us.
We’re a big country with a lot of people. There are millions of us. When you’ve only got two of something, the third guy in line might feel cheated and get upset.
The third and fourth guys will file a lawsuit on the grounds of denial of thriving. That will create media coverage. Congressmen will vow and make angry gestures. Then the president will have to hold another town meeting to have a dialogue on public television. The poor guy’s got enough troubles.
So I’ve come up with a solution that should please everyone.
Instead of bilingual, how about infini-lingual?
That’s right, infini-lingual, or googol-lingual, if you prefer. The googol comes from my early advanced theoretical mathematics training, when another kid on the block said googol was the biggest number in the universe and we believed him.
Think of the advantages of infini-lingual. Instead of having to worry about sharing two languages, everybody could have one. There would be enough to go around.
Under my policy, each ethnic group would be required to speak its own language. So Chinese-Americans would be required to speak only Chinese; Greeks would only speak Greek; the Irish would have to speak Gaelic and so on. Everybody would be involved, Italians, Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, Pakistanis, Indians, Arabs, et al.
If you’ve forgotten the native tongue of your forefathers, you’d be sent off to re-education camps for total immersion. And there would be no language slippage, no mixing of tongues. We’d have enforcers just like the French Canadians do in Montreal. Spanglish, Ebonics, Greeklish, Russianese and Brooklyn would not be tolerated.
There’s only one exception. In the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago, the locals would have two options: The language of their forefathers or the language of Southwest Side politics..
“I talk good dis way,” a person might say. “Don’t come by me with no Gaelic stuff like dat. I tole you don’t come by me! Whaddya tink, you’re big or something?”
African-Americans could choose from hundreds of African languages and dialects from that great continent. The same goes for Italians, Poles, Russians, Chinese, Latinos, Lithuanians, Armenians, Albanians, you name it.
Each group would have its own currency too, and political representation. Think of the patronage opportunities and the money changing.
The possibilities expand. Each ethnic group could have its own high schools and colleges and universities too. And no group could dare poach from the other, so there would be no academic turf wars.
The Italians for example, could study Italian poetry and art, but they would be prohibited from studying Egyptology or Tolstoy. African-Americans would of course be denied any European history or literature, including what we used to call the classics. Hispanics could be jailed for attempting haiku.
Poles would be the only people to read Henryk Sienkiewicz or Jerzy Kosinski. Greeks and Portuguese who dared pick up “Moby Dick” could be caned.
But with everybody having their own courses of study, with their own department chairmen rigidly enforcing any mixing, who would dare become truly multi-cultural?
In case of emergency, there would have to be a few thousand Americans who could communicate between the groups. We’d need them in case of an economic collapse or a war. They could speak and write standard English. They’d have all the information. We could call them “rich people.”
By then of course, we’d have to change the name of this country. We’d have to come up with something appropriate.
How about Yugoslavia?