Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mental Laziness

Dennis Prager decries liberal laziness of thought in his latest article. According to Prager, Liberals don't think issues through. Rather we have a list of negative words to attach to Republicans and a list of positive words to attach to Democrats. Prager uses as his example, Harry Reid who recently characterized an amendment offered by Senator Inhofe as "racist."

Prager illustrates another mental time-saver. Rather than grapple with what your political opponent is saying, simply assign him a position, and attack. For example, rather than come to terms with what Reid actually said, simply claim all he did was throw around the word racist and leave it at that.

Sen. Reid did use the word racist in his attack on Senator Inhofes amendment making English the National Language, but placed in context it is a bit more understandable.
I have affection for my friend from Oklahoma, but I have the greatest disagreement with him on this amendment. While the intent may not be there, I really believe this amendment is racist. I think it is directed basically to people who speak Spanish.

. . . I have served in the Congress of the United States with JIM INHOFE for many years, and we disagree on issues on occasion. But even though I believe this amendment is unfair, I don't in any way suggest that JIM INHOFE is a racist. I don't believe that at all. I just believe that this amendment has, with some people, that connotation - not that he is a racist but that the amendment is. So I want to make sure the record is spread with the fact that I have only the strongest, as I indicated early on, affection for JIM INHOFE, the senior Senator from Oklahoma.

. . . Why don't we spend more money so we can educate more people who want to learn English? We are short of money. We have programs that are cut every day. That is the way it is in Nevada and around the country. That is where we should be directing our efforts. That brings people together. That is good for all of us. This does not bring people together. It makes it far more likely that we will end up with civic exclusion, including the denial of rights they should have to millions of U.S. citizens.

I hope we reject this amendment. It is bad policy. It is un-American. It turns back the clock on the substantial gains that language minority citizens have made. I hope that there will be a resounding vote against this.
Here is a text copy of the speech. It is not a masterly speech, but the argument is far more complex than simply saying that the Amendment is Racist. If you want to look up the speech it is found in the Congressional Record S4766-7, May 18, 2006.

Frankly the proposed Amendment is racist. The whole point to the bill is to slam people who don't speak English. And given the context of the debate the people to be slammed are Hispanics. The point of the bill isn't to help people learn English, but to punish people for not learning it.

Some of you are thinking about the cost of printing ballots in Spanish and in English. First of all the expense is not as extreme as you think it is (certainly nothing compared to the expense of invading Iraq). Secondly, the Inhofe amendment won't actually change that. Yet. As near as I can tell it carves out an exception for bi-lingual messages that currently exist, while expressing that such things are un-American for the future.

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