Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed into law a ban on ethnic studies classes, specifically in response to a class that teaches Mexican-American history, on the grounds that it would “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”

Apparently irony isn’t one of her strong points. For starters, Arizona was Mexico. For seconds, if there is resentment towards whites in that state, wouldn’t it be from the fact that it’s discriminating against Hispanics? And isn’t this bill clearly more evidence of just that? Unbelievable.

Similarly, Jackson, NY*, a small town near Vermont, has signed a law declaring all official activity be done in English – itself unconstitutional – which is not only unnecessary (what non-English speakers would they find near Vermont? Errant Quebecois?) but ugly in the sort of support it’s getting. To quote one commenter,

This is an extremely positive development to stem the de-Americanization of America.

Because America’s entire history isn’t just one big long list of immigrants. I don’t see you people speaking Tsalagi. To quote another,

Then I thought to myself: if I was in court in say, France, I would not go to foreclosure court and assume that a translator would be made available to me. I would not own property in France and assume that my ignorance of French would be accommodated. Similarly, I would not go to the hospital, or to pay a utility bill, go to school, or out to eat and assume that those establishments would provide someone to assist me in transacting my business in anything else but French.

Which is ironic, since like most Europeans, French citizens have a more robust educational system when it comes to learning foreign languages, are surrounded by people who speak foreign languages and are more likely to be conversant in foreign languages (especially English) than Americans. Not to mention the racism of assuming that because one cannot speak fluently, one must not be allowed to own property, pay bills, go to school or the hospital.

The comments are not terribly dissimilar to those in today’s Times article on racial profiling in NYC:

FACT: Blacks and latinos commit a much greater percentage of crime in relation to their overall population then white people do. Hence, more frisks, arrests, etc.

Apparently said commenter has not heard of the self-serving prophecy. Forgetting about police quotas and the high rate of drug charges, it’s a fairly simple concept: More scrutiny equals more arrests. If cops harassed random suburban white boys with the fervor they did Black hoods, we’d see a far higher rate of incarceration for whites. (Not to mention more sensationalism about the negative effects of crystal meth, but I digress.)

Two steps forward, two steps back. And to think we’re supposedly the most egalitarian nation in the world…

*It never ceases to amaze me just how much upstate New York is total hicksville.

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  • Published: May 13th, 2010
  • Category: Society
  • Comments: 1

I’m Too Young For This

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I’m still twenty-something, still running the starter motor on a career – any career. I can’t already be in the “what is this world coming to” mode yet. Not for another thirty years more at least.

In times of boon more government subsidies are given to the middle class: Highway construction and maintenance, tax breaks for homeowners, etc. But whenever we’re in the red, the poor must pay – mass transit gets cut. State unions get double pressure from the state and from public opinion, as low-paid private sector workers inevitably fall upon their public sector brethren in a lamentable divide-and-conquer scenario.

But what strikes me as truly unconscionable is that public schools and libraries are almost always the first to go. The NYCDoE is running for another round of thousands of layoffs (I was laid off last October), and now Queens Library stands to lose 14 branch libraries. Where can society go without education? Even during the Great Depression, these things remained sacrosanct. It reminds me of that term floating about the blogosphere: “Epistemic Closure.”

We’re Rome circa 400AD. All the great thinkers are dead and new ones are not replacing them.* The societal zeitgeist is more in tune with marketing rather than message. One political party is more interested in winning elections than governing, the other is stuck in an endless loop of second-guessing if any one necessary, life-saving act is even politically feasible, and they’re both bought, paid for and essentially wholly-owned subsidiaries of corporations who bleed society at large and whose only products of note are rich ex-CEOs.

Yeah, yeah, “we all have to tighten our belts.” Why, however, are the belts wrapped around our heads?

I know Obama’s plate is more than full, but he seriously needs to consider bailing out the states. The feds can run a debt. The states can’t, and apparently Paterson (and others) are too stupid to understand what it means to cut education.

*Consequently, I hate Augustine of Hippo, hypocritical charlatan that he was.

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