Grab a wooden spoon and chomp down hard while I tell you about a junk mail piece from a Kirk D. Lynn.
Mr. Lynn informs me, in English, on one side of a one-page letter, that “State Farm Homeowners insurance protects your house and your pocketbook.” On the other side of the same letter, Mr. Lynn informs me of the same thing, but in Spanish.
This State Farm advertisement tells me it’s over. It’s too late to do anything about it. We are living in a nation that conducts its daily business in two languages, one of which the vast majority of Americans — try 87 percent — neither speaks nor understands.
How’d we wind up with this linguistic cultural absurdity?
It wasn’t easy. It took politicians, academics, press moguls (and the editors and reporters who work for them) to pull this off.
Becoming a linguistically and culturally bifurcated nation is not something on which we held a national referendum. It, like that other thing, just happened.
Credit the Republican and Democratic presidents who, one after another, failed to secure the border against people sneaking in, not necessarily out of love for America or appreciation of its freedoms and institutions. They sneaked in to make the barely living wage they couldn’t make in their own country.
This illegal border crossing is perfectly understandable if you are born in — and desperately want out of — a country whose government and police have been basically corrupt since the beginning of time. It’s understandable if your birth country rigs its economy to benefit only a few privileged families. In other words, a foreign country a million miles away from the meritocracy that has been at the core of our way of life from the get-go. And still is. More or less. So far.
So we know why they come — why my grandfather, with my father-to-be in tow, crossed the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to get to America. But after they and millions of others settled in, America remained monolingual and cohesive.
Why now this bilingual transformation? Ask the “come-one, come-all” folks. They say borders are racist. At the same time, these folks tell us not to worry, all newcomers are aflame with the desire to learn English and maintain the uniqueness of this republic.
Well, that did seem to be true for earlier waves of immigrants, who had a burning desire and/or a desperate need to learn English — to find work, buy food, understand a doctor’s instructions. But that was before two behemoth Spanish-language networks set up shop in the U.S. and began dispensing the sights and sounds of Latin American culture 24/7. And before every other cable outfit — Comcast, Verizon FiOS, Direct TV and the rest — offered almost as many Spanish-language channels as there are Mexicans in Nuevo Laredo.
I don’t have a problem with that. Nor with the cuisine they brought. Nor their music. Nor the lilt of the language. Like most other Americans, I wish our schools had taught us fluency in languages besides English. So it’s not a dislike of Spanish.
But it is a dislike for not being consulted about a change, not having a chance to say no, we want one language for all transactions, and on top of that, as many other languages as we individually choose for fun and learning.
What we can’t help resenting is we didn’t ask to be asked to press “1” for Spanish or “2” for English. We resent that it’s no longer OK to come out and say we want to hold onto the melting-pot America. The America we always thought, the one we were the luckiest persons alive to have been born in.
How and why is that slipping away? Amnesties, big-hearted, numbskulled preaching of an open-borders mentality, the insatiable hunger for cheap labor and a permanent class of clueless lawmakers combined to drive up the number of Spanish speakers 233 percent since 1980.
As of last year, the Census Bureau counted 323 million people living in the U.S. Only 41 million, or 13 percent, of them speak Spanish at home. OK, add another 11.6 million who speak Spanish and English as children of immigrant parents. You still have only 52.6 million Spanish speakers out of a population more than six times that.
Is that a sensible explanation for having to press “1” for English — or for having to put up with junk mail in Spanish and English?
Actually, like it or not, it is — because it’s the money, stupid. If you sell toy trucks or insurance policies and don’t offer them in Spanish to that 50 million-plus market, and your competitors do, who wins that one?
Suppose you sell $5 children’s dolls — I’m not saying you do or ever would — but just suppose. The 52.6 million Spanish-speaking potential customers in the U.S. are more Spanish-speakers than in Spain (population, less than 47 million). If your Spanish-language ads to sell $5 dolls only net a fourth of that market, that’s $65 million in gross sales. You’re already feeling that money lust in your loins.
And that is why your insurance company, cellphone service provider, auto-rental chain, hospital, dentist and virtually every other manufacturer and service provider asks you to press “1” for English, “2” for Spanish.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.