Gingrich: The language of the ghetto is a secret.

A few days ago Newt Gingrich attacked bilingual education, saying that kids should learn “the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.” Last night Gingrich claimed that he wasn’t talking about Spanish, said that “what [he] meant is very clear,” and then refused to say which language he meant. Let’s guess the language/ghetto combination. French ghettos? Fijian? Greek? Tajik? Urdu? Xhosa? I hear the Swedish ghetto in D.C. can be pretty rough.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

22 replies on “Gingrich: The language of the ghetto is a secret.”

  1. I find nothing wrong with Gingrich advocating English as the language children are taught in. His choice of words may have been a bit coarse, but I don’t really care. Does this make me a candidate for re-education, or can I get by with mere sensitivity training?

  2. Intelligent minds may disagree on the language in which education should be provided. The problem here is Gingrich’s declaration that Spanish is a “ghetto” language. There are well over 300 million Spanish speakers who would probably argue otherwise. That’s precisely why Gingrich is trying to weasel out of this.

  3. Most of the inhabitants of actual ghettos either spoke yiddish or polish. I wonder if Gingrich is trying to lay the groundwork for coming out as a Jew. He couldn’t do a better job of it than George Allen, but he can certainly try.

    Where’s my damned scrapple!?

  4. Not to defend jerky Newty, but in America, English is, in fact, the language of prosperity. If you don’t speak fluent English, your chances of rising above assistant manager at Burger King are profoundly limited.

    I don’t know if bilingual education is a good idea or not. Nor can I make out what the hell Newt’s ranting about.

    But it’s true that, in America, if you’re in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood, you’re probably in a very poor neighborhood. Maybe that’s what he meant.

  5. Newt’s a genius. He said that even talking about this issue would bait the left into attacking him over it and defending non-English languages, a less than 15% polling position.

    And you did.

  6. I’m not defending non-English languages, I’m attacking Newt Gingrich for being a backpedaling weenie. If he’s going to attack people who speak Spanish, he should have the cojones — pardon me, I mean balls — to actually do it, rather than pussy-foot his way around with that half-assed denial.

    Newt Gingrich has said and done some interesting things in the past few years that made me think that maybe I had the guy all wrong. Just like McCain, though, he’s shown that he just doesn’t have the courage of his convictions.

  7. Wow, if this is what it looks like when Newt Gingrich is defeating me in an intellectual debate, let’s have a few more rounds. Oddly for a winner, he’s getting beat like a rented burro.

  8. Not so fast, Brian Kirwin. I think you’re mis-reading Waldo here. He didn’t make accuse Newt Gingrich of making an “attack” on “people who speak Spanish”. He said that “Newt Gingrich attacked bilingual education” – not at all the same thing.

    Further, the whole thrust of his post was not to comment on the positive or negative merits of bilingual education. Start with the heading on the post: “Gingrich: The language of the ghetto is a secret.” The focus is clearly on Gingrich’s backpedaling.

    If Newt Gingrich wants to criticize bilingual education, he ought to have at it. Instead, he pussyfoots around the issue.

  9. As to Waldo’s last post, “burro” means donkey.

    Look, I speak Spanish rather fluently. It’s NOT just a ghetto language. But I’m still an advocate for English-first education in this country and in our government. You’ll see polls that say most Americans, including a majority of immigrants, agree. Newt could’ve thought of A LOT better ways to say this. Stop drinking for the Kool-Aid, Brian. Newt said ANOTHER dumb thing that will piss a lot of people off. Big surprise.

  10. Schools should teach English instead of anti-communicative vernacular. Specifically the verb may exists and using the verb can as an all purpose substitute word stinks. Honestly this reverses the meaning of many sentences in basic english. The extra overloading means the receiver must do the extra work of an object oriented interpreter vs a simple one. Those Interpreters get much bigger when written for computers. Why should I assume the needless extra burden when your too lazy to communicate. The common assumption of the toxic waste masquerading as “court officials” that the only possible meaning of the verb can = permission reveals their lying arrogance. My 1957 Websters is great but their recent usage note covers late numbered etymology instead, consistent with their vernacular emphasis revealed by their “more new words” ad campaign. They used to make proper dictionaries like the OED.

    Its not english anymore when standard testing propagates severe defects in use of the language’s shortest verbs!

  11. The irony of Brutal’s post is that despite it being about improving and correcting communication, it took three readings of it before I could understand what it was saying.

  12. I’m not entirely sure that Brutal is sentient. Clicking through to the linked site was of absolutely no help. Could be an AI under development, though.

  13. “The problem here is Gingrich’s declaration that Spanish is a “ghetto” language.”

    I don’t believe he ever said that or even implied it.

    When I read this, I understood it the same way Hawkins did. Newt was pretty clear that in this country any language other than English is a ghetto language, meaning that if you can’t speak English you’re most likely destined to a life of poverty.

  14. The problem is that there is the perception that most native Spanish speakers in the U.S. do not make any effort to assimilate and that there is also the expectation, almost a sense of entitlement, that they should be accommodated in their lack of assimilation. That’s the gripe that is at the heart of Newt’s ill considered comments. And if (at least some part of) it was not true then there would not be the desire in a number of businesses to have (spanish/english) bilingual employees.

    And yes Newt’s a weenie for backpedaling.

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