Okay now they have gone off the edge in Arizona. The latest report from the state is that teachers with “thick” accents will be let go. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Arizona Department of Education should remove teachers with “thick accents” or who are “ungrammatical” if they teach English. Is this more of the anti-immigrant wave that is washing over the deserts of Arizona?
What does it mean to speak English or to teach English? Are they one and the same? Should all people speak the same “television-ese”? Is the “thick accents” specifically targeting those who speak Spanish or other languages as their native tongue or first language? Xenophobia is alive and well in Arizona.
Would a Southerner from Mobile, Alabama be counted as one with a thick accent? How about someone from Boston? Or the specific nasal twang of someone from Pittsburgh, PA? Or is this yet another attack on Hispanics.
So far in the last two weeks we have had the signing into law SB1070 that gives the right to police to stop anyone they suspect is undocumented and requires them to produce paperwork. Then they banned ethnic studies in K-12 and now this. Clearly it is time for the Arizona leadership both the legislature and governmental department chairs to take a trip to New York and read the poem “The New Colossus” on the Statue of Liberty by Emma Lazarus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Yes, we welcome the immigrant, the strangers and we hope and want them to learn English and speak it. Accent or not!