Resolved: Republicans think you're dumb

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Jul 15 18:11:33 UTC 2008

Resolved: Republicans think you're dumb

Recently, Barack Obama made the entirely uncontroversial point that
American kids, in order to be more competitive globally, should be
learning other languages. Conservatives, of course, crapped
themselves. I won't link to the myriad idiotic complaints by the
righties, but the Carpetbagger Report and Smintheus of DailyKos have a
few. I do want to especially highlight John Derbyshire, however, who
wrote that "The cold fact is that absent exceptional circumstances —
the most common of which is, total immersion at a receptive age — not
many human beings can learn another language." Does Derbyshire just
believe, then, that Americans are stupid compared to Europeans? After
all, half of Europeans are fully bilingual.

Smintheus says this is a sign that Republicans have become
"Know-Nothing Republicans." I think he* has it wrong, though. These
people are actually "Think-You-Know-Nothing Republicans." They think
their constituents are too stupid to see through their petty charades.
They think that you--like their standard-bearer, John McCain--don't
know how to use "a Google." Because if you didn't know how to do that,
you wouldn't be able to find Senate Resolution 28, from 2005. That
resolution, put forward and passed unanimously when the Senate was
controlled by Republicans, said this (pdf link):


Designating the year 2005 as the ''Year of Foreign
Language Study''.

Whereas according to the 2000 decennial census of the population, 9.3
percent of Americans speak both their native language and another
language fluently;

Whereas according to the European Commission Directorate General for
Education and Culture, 52.7 percent of Europeans speak both their
native language and another
language fluently;

Whereas the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 names
foreign language study as part of a core curriculum that includes
English, mathematics, science,
civics, economics, arts, history, and geography;

Whereas according to the Joint Center for International Language,
foreign language study increases a student's cognitive and critical
thinking abilities;

Whereas according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign
Languages, foreign language study increases a student's ability to
compare and contrast cultural concepts;

Whereas according to a 1992 report by the College Entrance Examination
Board, students with 4 or more years in foreign language study scored
higher on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
than students who did not;

Whereas the Higher Education Act of 1965 labels foreign language study
as vital to secure the future economic welfare of the United States in
a growing international

Whereas the Higher Education Act of 1965 recommends encouraging
businesses and foreign language study programs to work in a mutually
productive relationship
which benefits the Nation's future economic interest;

Whereas according to the Centers for International Business Education
and Research program, foreign language study provides the ability both
to gain a comprehensive understanding of and to interact with the
cultures of United States trading partners, and thus establishes a
solid foundation for successful economic relationships;

Whereas Report 107–592 of the Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence of the House of Representatives concludes that American
multinational corporations and nongovernmental organizations do not
have the people with the foreign language abilities and cultural
exposure that are needed;

Whereas the 2001 Hart-Rudman Report on National Security in the 21st
Century names foreign language study and requisite knowledge in
languages as vital for the Federal Government to meet 21st century
security challenges properly and effectively;

Whereas the American intelligence community stresses that individuals
with proper foreign language expertise are greatly needed to work on
important national security
and foreign policy issues, especially in light of the terrorist
attacks on September 11, 2001;

Whereas a 1998 study conducted by the National Foreign Language Center
concludes that inadequate resources existed for the development,
publication, distribution, and teaching of critical foreign languages
(such as Arabic, Vietnamese, and Thai) because of low student
enrollment in the United States; and

Whereas a shortfall of experts in foreign languages has seriously
hampered information gathering and analysis within the American
intelligence community as demonstrated by the 2000 Cox Commission
noting shortfalls in Chinese proficiency, and the National
Intelligence Council citing deficiencies in Central Eurasian, East
Asian, and Middle Eastern languages: Now, therefore, be it

1 Resolved, That—
2 (1) it is the sense of the Senate that foreign
3 language study makes important contributions to a
4 student's cognitive development, our national econ-
5 omy, and our national security;

1 (2) the Senate—
2 (A) designates the year 2005 as the ''Year
3 of Foreign Language Study'', during which for-
4 eign language study is promoted and expanded
5 in elementary schools, secondary schools, insti-
6 tutions of higher learning, businesses, and gov-
7 ernment programs; and
8 (B) requests that the President issue a
9 proclamation calling upon the people of the
10 United States to—
11 (i) encourage and support initiatives
12 to promote and expand the study of for-
13 eign languages; and
14 (ii) observe the ''Year of Foreign Lan-
15 guage Study'' with appropriate ceremonies,
16 programs, and other activities.
In other words, Republican senators unanimously believed that learning
foreign languages was vital for our national security, our children's
cognitive abilities and our economic competitiveness three years ago,
but today not so much.

Smintheus could be right, I guess. They'd have to be stupid to think
people are so stupid.

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