Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Engines of Assimilation

It seems like almost everyone's talking about Rep. Virgil Goode (rhymes with "screwed") and his comments about Keith Ellison. Apparently Rep. Goode doesn't believe there are any American-born Muslims, which must come as quite a shock to Keith Ellison, who was born in Detroit. (Granted, Detroit is further north than Windsor, Ontario, but you still have to cross a national border to get there from here.)

His and the rest of the right-wing nutter crowd are insisting on conflating the existence of a Muslim Representative with the immigration discussion, such as it is, since there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion, just right-wing freaks getting worked up. Who wins in the battle of the right-wing freaks, the militia-nut nitwits and white supremacists, or the cheap-labour conservatives? I'll give you two guesses, and the first one doesn't count.

It reminds me of an experience I had years ago at the fair, when I ran into a table full of weirdos trying to push an initiative to get a bill tabled in Parliament to make English the official language of Ontario. How that would work exactly I'm even less sure than I was years ago, because Canada is officially bilingual, English and French, and I'm not really sure the provinces can override that, even if they (I'm talking to you, Ralph Klein) wanted to.

These guys (and I remember them as being all guys) were trying to get me to sign their petition or something, and I said I didn't care whether Ontario was officially bilingual, and they said something like, "But you speak English, you should care!" and I said, "Mais, je parle francais aussi!" and they said, "You could still sign our petition. I said, "If anything, I'd like to see places handle more languages," and they razzed me a bit.

That's the thing I don't like about Quebec's French-only laws, is that it cuts out the possibility of businesses and services officially catering to a second language market. As anyone who's ever spent any time at all in Montreal knows, there is a large native English-speaking population there (mostly in Westmount and some of the historically Anglo suburbs), as well as lots of other languages. Toronto, I think, has done a bang-up job of accommodating what may be the richest linguistic diversity in the world -- 150 languages and counting. You can get information on the Toronto Transit Commission system in a staggering number of languages. That attitude is even starting to seep through here in Whitebreadville -- I was in the hospital on Thursday night, and they have interpreter service for about 20 different languages available.

If I ever run into those English-only guys again, I'm going to start talking about that. And then I'll say, "Mais, je parle francais aussi. Y hablo espanol tambien. Toh chotto nihongo o hanashimasu. V'ani gam medaberet ktzat Ivrit...English Only?! Are you nuts?!"


Blogger imfunnytoo said...

Goode isnt.

Also in the US, the Right (who isn't either come to think of it)

have wasted no time in bringing up the fact that a candidate's middle name is "Hussein." and kind of floting it on some weird cloud of free association that goes-Muslim middle name, therefore extremist, therefore unelectable...

I've long since stopped being boggled by what comes out of the (not)Right

1:02 AM  
Blogger Interrobang said...

I keep wanting to bring up that "Barak" (a soundalike for "Barack") is a perfectly respectable Hebrew name of considerable lineage, just to watch some people's heads explode.

5:26 AM  

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