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press 1 for xenophobia

I have been getting pretty interested in politics lately. I find myself thinking a lot about why different political groups support different things, what the historical motivations for those things has been, and why different coalitions between groups have formed. If I ever get a chance I'd like to try to make a post about how I see the different political groups and what kinds of things I associate with each.

As a part of this newfound interest, I decided to go read some of the platforms for different political parties. The most humorous thing I've found so far is on the Republican Party's website, describing their stance on National Security. Part of their stated platform is to "encourage" immigrants to learn English. Encourage is a pretty vague word, which could mean anything from something good (helping them adapt to our culture and be able to get along without being able to understand anyone), to something in between, to something really bad (forcing everyone to speak english, or forcing companies to only use english in any public interactions). While they probably mean something somewhere in between, they also included this music video right next to the text describing their platform, which indicates to *me* that they may mean something very bad by it. The name of the video is "Press 1 for English" and I find it incredibly scary and offensive:



(from http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/NationalSecurity.htm)

Basically, the singer in this music video is so outraged that she has to literally "lift her finger" to press the button "1" at the beginning of a message left by some company (who obviously has non-english speaking customers who are paying just as much as the english speaking customers to use the service) that instead of having to do this she would rather ask whole communities of people to stop speaking their native language and spend years learning to speak her language. I guess they don't usually have Native American languages on there anyway, but does she not remember that the English were immigrants originally too? They just expect the people who were living here first and still speaking their language to give it up and convert to the language of the imperialists? I guess I'm not surprised that they made the video, but I am outraged that the GOP decided to display it prominently on their website. What an awesome monument to American laziness and nationalism this song is... and how proud and boastful of our laziness we are! Again, I find it scary and offensive... but I also admit to finding it incredibly humorous and entertaining.

Oh, and one more interesting thing about this video... if you look closely at 3:08 minutes in, there is a giant American flag in the background, with a Christian cross superimposed behind the blue square where the white stars are. Hmmmm. Apparently, the immigrants should go ahead and learn our religion too, not just our language... is that going to be on the platform in another 4 years? I would suggest someone make a parody video called "Press 1 for Christian" but I'm too afraid that the Republicans will actually take it as a serious idea.

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Comments

easwaran
Dec. 15th, 2008 08:23 am (UTC)
Wait a minute, what's the opposite extreme in this case? Saying that companies should be allowed to have whatever options they want on their phone help lines? That sounds like a relatively reasonable option to me.

I agree that in many cases there are extreme positions that are silly, and the right answer is somewhere in the middle, but I think people naively assume that this is the case in every situation, which is quite unwarranted. Sometimes one of the two "radical" positions really is right (atheism strikes me as a relevant example, though it might be tougher to come up with policy examples). And sometimes, the right thing is even way beyond one of the supposed extremes (consider debates about slavery, or women's rights, that were waged in the early 19th century - at least at some point, I think not even the most extreme abolitionists or suffragists thought that black people and women deserved full equality with men in all spheres of economic and political activity). And sometimes the right position is in some sort of direction that isn't suggested by either supposedly radical position.

I agree with you that sometimes this polarizations come about because one group just wants to differentiate themselves from the other, but I think that's an overly simplistic model for most political disagreements - I think most of them do at least have some kernel of rationality based on misunderstood facts or competing interests.

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