Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bee's history lesson too little, too late

A Sacramento Bee editorial came down hard on Governor Schwarzenegger for telling Spanish speakers to learn English and "turn off the Spanish language television." The Bee reminded the governor he is an immigrant and that Ellis Island Germans valued their native tongue. The history lesson, however, was given to an empty classroom. For decades, the Bee, and most large papers, have insisted on referring to non-Hispanics as "Anglos," even though a humorist once said something like "we call English the mother tongue because all our ancestors spoke Italian, Polish or Yiddish."
Is Anglo used because Hispanics insist on it? Is the Bee an easy mark for pressure groups? Allowing one group to name another is giving that group an awesome power. Think of all the years spent over terminology. Who came up with "straight?" Were men asked what they wanted to be called when women ended up with three possible titles: Ms. Mrs. Miss?
Did the Bee point to our nation's past immigrant experience during the debate over bilingual education? The Contra Costa Times ran an interesting series that told how new comers of the past learned to speak English, but that was a rare offering.
Shame on the Bee!!!! It could help bring us together by restricting Anglo to a direct quote - the way so many newspapers do with "pro life," even while giving a free ride to pro-choice.
That might be too little and too late. Newspapers, sadly, are becoming irrelvant. They had the chance to build bridges, but lost the public's trust. The "Anglo" usage was just one nail in the coffin.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007