There's an old adage that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Obviously, Newt Gingrich doesn't subscribe to this philosophy, becau
April 2, 2007

There's an old adage that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Obviously, Newt Gingrich doesn't subscribe to this philosophy, because he's out there with his handy shovel, digging in a little deeper.

Think Progress:

Newt Gingrich said this past weekend that the U.S. should abolish bilingual education so that people aren't speaking "the language of living in a ghetto."

But last night on Hannity & Colmes, Gingrich claimed his statement "did not refer to Spanish." Gingrich insisted, "What I meant is very clear[]," but then wouldn't say which language he was referring to.

Gingrich said, "Now, I'll let you pick - frankly, ghetto, historically had referred as a Jewish reference originally. I did not mention Hispanics, and I certainly do not want anybody who speaks Spanish to think I'm in any way less than respectful of Spanish or any other language spoken by people who come to the United States."

Jeffrey Feldman suggests that Newt attend a little night school to get his historical references correct.

Oy! What a shandeh this Gingrich remark.

The problem with Gingrich's example is that it gets the history of the Jewish ghetto completely wrong--backwards even. Historically, Jews who lived in the first ghettos did not suffer the social stigma brought on by a lack of language education, but from the political consequences of too much language skill.[..]

In other words, if we follow Newt's example of the Jewish ghettos, the moral of the story should not be that foreigners need help learning languages, but that the immigrants among us are actually smarter at language than the rest of us. [..]

If Newt had spent even 5 minutes in an immigrant community in America he would discover himself completely at the mercy of a group of polyglots much more capable than the average American. Being an immigrant, in fact, is most often synonymous with language fluency as rapid language facility is often the key to Immigrants being able, in a relatively short period of time, to function in two cultures simultaneously--to hold a job, navigate a new set of laws, and so forth.

Sorry, Newt. It looks like you are obviously not smart enough to think these things through.

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