Bilingualism and HBO

Sometimes, someone writes an article that manages to touch upon more than one issue near and dear to me. Catherine Seipp managed to do just that when she wrote about Walkout, a new HBO film. Walkout is about historic injustice, circa 1968:

You’d need a heart of stone not to root for the plucky, fresh-faced kids in Walkout, a new HBO film about Mexican-American teenagers who in 1968 organized classroom walkouts to protest conditions at their East Los Angeles high schools. The movie, which premieres March 18, is directed by actor and activist Edward James Olmos, and depicts Latino students locked out of school bathrooms at lunch, discouraged from applying to college, and paddled for speaking Spanish in class. Their peaceful demonstration got them in trouble with school officials and beaten by police, while the teacher who inspired them was arrested and faced with a possible prison sentence of 66 years (the charges were later dropped). But in the end, by golly, the school board was forced to pay attention.

Seipp points out that, while the movie makes bilingualism seem like a wonderful thing it is, in fact, anything but:

The walkouts ushered in three decades of herding native Spanish-speaking students into a patronizing ethnic and linguistic ghetto, broken only when California’s Prop. 227 severely scaled back bilingual education here in 1998. As it happens, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the state’s anti-bilingual backlash, which began when Skid Row activist and Episcopal priest Alice Callaghan organized about 100 Spanish-speaking parents who wanted their Ninth Street Elementary children to learn English in class.

I’ve always thought that bilingualism is one of the worst curses the “educationalists” of the 1960s and 1970s visited on immigrant children. The language of power and money in America is English — not Spanish, not Chinese. If you want to get ahead, that’s the language you learn.

I had a vicarious run-in with the politics behind multiculturalism when I was a little girl in the early 1970s. My Dad, an English teacher, had attended a massive union meeting that was supposed to be about pay, and devolved into a free-for-all about curriculum. When bilingualism came up, my father, who was himself an immigrant, stood up and stated that he was opposed to it, because it prevented first generation children from mainstreaming at school and integrating into the larger society. He was instantly, loudly, and in a most ugly way, booed down as a racist pig. Only one person came to his defense. A tiny, old black teacher stood up and shouted at the crowd, “You listen to Mr. Bookworm, Sr. He’s absolutely right. If we keep going with this bilingual education, we’re keeping our children in the ghetto forever.” Thirty years later, that lady and my Dad both stand vindicated, but nothing changes.

The other thing Seipp’s article made me think of is the hugely agenda driven movies HBO is producing. A couple of years ago, Mr. Bookworm used Netflix to earmark at least 10 HBO films which we’ve been watching at intervals over the years. Or, I should say, trying to watch. Without exception, the movies he found at Netflix take place in the past, and portray a world in which evil white people (usually men) are oppressing (a) minorities; (b) women; or (c) gays (or any combination of these). There’s nothing subtle in these portrayals. The men are cartoon-like in their hatred for all these oppressed people, and the oppressed people are saint-like in their oppression. Some examples are The Affair, And The Band Played On, Vendetta, and If These Walls Could Talk, all of which you can read about here.
While it’s true that HBO has produced a lot of fine shows and movies, it’s really amazing how many of the movies are Left-wing, race baiting (with the race baited being white), anti-American polemics. They’re lousy movies, and they’re all available as part of the package for the enormous number of Americans who subscribe to premium cable packages.
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  • Ymarsakar

    “You listen to Mr. Bookworm

    Oh, ha, I just can’t help laughing at that. Ever since Instapundit came up with the Insta family, I just found it quite amusing the way it is framed.

    The men are cartoon-like in their hatred for all these oppressed people, and the oppressed people are saint-like in their oppression.

    My analysis is such propaganda is very ineffective. So they will change. Let’s see what happens. Here comes Fahrenheit and Syriana…. I wouldn’t know the difference of course, I don’t watch any of those movies.

    They’re lousy movies, and they’re all available as part of the package for the enormous number of Americans who subscribe to premium cable packages.

    I think Soros played some part in funding these movies. I mean, where else would these people get the money? There’s always Hollywood of course. But they tend to have things like, jets, to spend their money on. With that kind of money at their backs, I’m not surprised HBO can’t find some better movies to offer. What kind of conservative has so much liquidated money that he can setup his own propaganda apparatus? Most Republicans spend their money in their businesses, making more money and expanding. Wasting your capital or your income from your capital, on artys fartsy movies and artists, would seem a bad investment. If your objective was to make money, that is…

  • erp

    I thought Olmos was smarter than to fall for bilingualism. Just a short personal story. I didn’t speak a word of English when I was enrolled in a Catholic school taught by black robed nuns (we’re not Catholic and I had never even seen a nun before) who were unbelievably kind and patient, but didn’t cut me any slack as far as the school work went. It took a couple of months as I remember, but by the end of the first grade, I was just another kid and by 8th grade, I was at the top of my class and the rest is history.

    Bilingual education is just another make work project for the teachers unions.

  • Patrick O’Hannigan

    My first comment on your new site. Wheee!

    Just wanted to share that the best essay on this subject I’ve ever read is Glenn Garvin’s “Loco, Completamente Loco” from 1998, linked here.

  • Ruth H

    Back in the 50’s when my family moved to South Texas they tried to put my 1/4 Mexican, 9 year old brother into the segregated Mexican school. He had never spoken Spanish in his life. My blond, blue eyed mother had to go to school every day for a week before he was put into the proper class. We called that SEGREGATION and he was the only one of the five of us in school that it happened to. He was the only one who looked even remotely Mexican. It was cruel and it was segregation. Now and in the era the movie was about, it was called cruel to teach English. What a skewed point of view.

  • Earl

    Correct – but it was actually even better than “make-work” – teachers who could teach bilingual classes got more money!! There was a substantial financial incentive to shove kids into those little ghettoes. My guess is that the school also got extra money for every kid in bilingual “education”. Very corrupt – everybody benefited except the child…

  • Ymarsakar

    The Left has so many failed policies, I’m surprised America still exists as a power in the world.

    It is like everyday I find out something they tried but failed at, in American history.

  • Jamie

    Just searching on google and found your site. It was ranked fairly high on google to. Anyway just looking around to see why.

  • Zhombre

    English is not simply the language of power & money in America; it is the international language of science, commerce and technology, and anybody with functioning brain cells should realize this. I find it both ironic and risible that while we here in the U.S. play these foolish and ultimately divisive games with bilingualism, much of the developing world (who lack the fog of politically correct thinking on the issue) struggles to grasp spoken English.

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