Friday, May 19, 2006

El Senor Harry Reid es idiota

Yesterday, the US Senate, in working through the dozens of amendments introduced to the immigration reform bill now before the body, took up for consideration Amendment 4064, offered by Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. The amendment, commonly referred to as the English Language amendment, would state as the policy of the United States Government that English is the national language.

Mr. Reid took to the floor and, speaking of the proposed amendment's effect, said, "I really believe this amendment is racist." Which, to a number of observers of the Senate floor, sounded as if Mr. Reid were suggesting that Mr. Inhofe was a racist.

Luckily for Mr. Reid, one of those observers was one of his own staffers, who immediately passed him a note. I have no way of knowing what was on that note (but wouldn't we all love to know -- "Boss, you just called Jim Inhofe a racist!"), but I do know that shortly after the note was passed to him, Mr. Reid assured Mr. Inhofe and those watching the floor of the Senate that he didn't believe Mr. Inhofe himself to be a racist. Not surprisingly, Mr. Inhofe appeared only slightly mollified.

What's truly disturbing about the whole exchange is that Mr. Reid seems not to understand the concept of "racism." "Racism" is defined as "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish one as inferior or superior to another race or races; prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on that belief."

So the first question is, how are differences between the races defined? Traditionally, races were defined physically -- first by phenotypes (the totality of external physical characteristics, such as eye color and shape, body size and shape, hair color and texture, etc.), and then more recently by genotypes (similar genetic material). The current consensus in the anthropological community, however, suggests that race is more a cultural than a physical phenomenon.

No one, however, suggests that language has anything to do with race. The Australian aborigine who speaks English is clearly of a different race than Muffy Bernard Shaw, whose ancestors arrived in North America shortly after the Mayflower.

That is, there is no "English-speaking" race, just as there is no "Spanish-speaking" race.

And, consequently, Mr. Reid is an idiot. Or, to put it in language he appears to like as least as much as his own native tongue, Senor Reid es idiota.


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