So I will start of with this bit of old news. Back in July Obama gave a speech in Georgia, during which he mentioned that Americans should worry less about immigrants learning English then making sure that their kids spoke Spanish. Sounds very inflammatory right? Sounds like Obama would like Spanish to take over the states, forcing everyone to learn to speak Spanish, adopt it as a second language, that sort of thing. So lets put this statement in context.
And for those of you who can't see the video, here is the transcript, word for word:
[I don’t understand… when people go around worrying about “we need to have English only”. They want to pass a law “we want just, we want English only”. Now I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But… but understand this, instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English – they’ll learn English – you need to make sure that your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language. You know, it’s embarrassing, it’s embarrassing, when… when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say is “Merci beaucoup.” Right?]
Well, after watching what he actually is talking about, which is not that every child should learn Spanish but that every child should study a foreign language, I think he is completely right. Please note, that he does not say that every child should be forced to learn a foreign language, nor that that the US has to become a bilingual state, but that an American's education should include an appreciation and understanding of foreign cultures. And this goes back to my earlier point of America being woefully lacking in knowledge of much beyond it's borders.
Interestingly, while looking for this video I came across a number of blogs etc that cut off the speech after 30 seconds, just where Barack says "you need to make sure that your child can speak Spanish." And I can see how that would get a lot of people upset.