Even if you do not usually listen to talk radio or read the right-wing blogs you are probably aware that a certain very vocal segment of the American population has been venting their displeasure that they have to confront on a daily basis the reality that not everyone in America is fluent in English. “Why should I have to dial 1 for English,” is a currently popular rallying cry on talk radio and in the right wing blogosphere.
To some extent we can decide how we react to ideas with which we do not agree. I have decided to try to be sympathetic to those who think Americans should never have to answer the question “Do you want to speak to me in English?” Pollsters tell us that sentiments such as this are strongly correlated with levels of education. The more educated you are the more likely you are to be pleased rather than alarmed at the presence in your community of people with different cultures, languages and traditions. Those of us who view the opportunity to learn new things with pleasure should feel sympathy towards those who react to those same opportunities with panic and fear. Perhaps they, through no fault of their own, did not have the same opportunities we did to further their education.
Pollsters and political experts also tell us that if you, like me, wish to see Democratic Party candidates elected to office then the current xenophobic frenzy in the Republican Party base is a godsend. Candidates who expressed extreme anti-immigrant views did not do well in the general election in 2006 and probably will not do well in the 2008 election. If the Republican base insists on only voting in the primaries for candidates who support George W. Bush’s foreign policy and oppose his immigration policy this could create a perfect storm that will virtually sweep Republicans from power for a generation. Every dark cloud has a silver lining.