Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Loquacious Latina, Part One

Even if you (by which I mean "I") follow current events closely, there are bound to be some stories that escape your notice. Apparently quite a few barbs were thrown at Eva Longoria last week regarding something she said last month, but I heard nothing about it until some days after the barbs were thrown.

First, allow me to say I find it annoying that American society considers it a "current event" when Eva Longoria shares her views in an interview with Los Angeles Magazine. Nonetheless, she is outspoken and draws attention and the media publicizes her comments more than they publicize the statements of scientists, economists, philosophers, and congressmen -- and therefore, when she weighs in with her thoughts on American society, it's a current event whether we like it or not.

What drew the barbs was her claim that "America is the only country that promotes monolingualism" -- a claim that is breathtakingly bogus, as I will discuss in a bit.

What I found more noteworthy, however, was Longoria saying she never learned Spanish until three years ago. That came as quite a shock to me, and presumably to everyone else who has heard her pronounce certain words with a mellifluously Spanish flourish.

Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, because she usually talks no differently than me and the vast majority of milquetoast U.S. citizens whose families have been here for generations. In fact, it is the "normalcy" of most of her spoken words that makes her occasional Hispanic inflections so obvious.

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There is, of course, nothing wrong with having a dialect. If it is real.

There is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage. If the heritage you're proud of is not based on myth.

There is certainly nothing wrong with being Hispanic. Tampa, the largest city in the metropolitan area where I was raised, was built by Cuban immigrants who were both entrepreneurs and laborers. Ted Cruz is my favorite currently serving U.S. senator. Who doesn't love listening to Tito Puente bang out rhythms on his timbale drums? My first major middle school crush was on a girl whose last name was Menendez.

But there is something to be said for bona fides, and the Desperate Housewives star seems to be obsessed with boosting her level of whatever it is she believes count as Hispanic bona fides. Most people probably assume that she is a first or second generation U.S. citizen from somewhere like Mexico or Nicaragua, but in reality, her family has been ranching the same land in Texas  for -- get ready for this -- more than 400 years.

When Ms. Longoria speaks with any Central or South American dialect, she is, dare I say, engaging in a craft at which she is a professional. That craft is called "acting."

For her to occasionally speak with such a dialect is no more authentic than if I were to occasionally speak with a brogue because some of my forebears came from Scotland. It is no more authentic than if Colin Powell, who was born in Harlem, occasionally adopted a Bob Marley manner of speech because his parents were from Jamaica.

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When it comes to Ms. Longoria's assertion that "America is the only country that promotes monolingualism," it is almost impossible to overstate how wrong she is. Her statement is so demonstrably false that it's tempting to dismiss her as either an imbecile or a complete ignoramus, but she is definitely not the former and I doubt she's the latter, so her statement can only be explained as the result of smug, unthinking intellectual laziness -- and again, we shouldn't be surprised because smug, unthinking intellectual laziness is an epidemic on the Left.

Liberals love to deploy universal statements like "every other country," "no other country," "every serious scientist," and so on, even though universal statements are categorically incorrect 99.99 percent of the time.

I am four years older than Ms. Longoria and it was 29 years ago that I first walked through the doors of St. Petersburg High School. Even back then -- in the dark ages of the Reagan Era, when our war-mongering 40th president displayed his ethnocentrism by granting amnesty and citizenship to millions of Latin Americans who were in the U.S. illegally -- my home state of Florida would not allow you to graduate from high school unless you successfully completed two years of classes in the same foreign language.

The same was true in Ms. Longoria's home state when she graduated from Roy Miller High School, so she must have had an inkling that monolingualism was not being promoted. (On a side note, I find it interesting that she chose to study a language other than Spanish at the time.)

On the college level, as Kevin Williamson has shrewdly pointed out, both Longoria's alma mater (Texas A&M-Kingsville) and her home state's flagship university (the University of Texas) refuse admission to students who did not complete two years of a foreign language in high school.

For shits and giggles, I randomly chose a university from what liberals would consider a flyover state -- Iowa State University, to be exact -- and googled its admissions requirements. Turns out that it too requires two years of a foreign language in high school in order to be accepted, and its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires three years of a foreign language in high school.

More than 15 years ago I walked into a Target in Miami and found that its signs were not merely printed in Spanish as well as English, but that the Spanish was on top.

Check the laws and you will see that the U.S. has never had an official language. You will also find that election ballots are printed in multiple languages in every state in the union -- even Vermont!

By contrast, Italy has one official language and it is Italian; Romania has one and it is Romanian; Sweden has one and it is Swedish; France has one and it is French; Ecuador has one and it is Spanish; Brazil has one and it is Portugese; Japan has one and it is Japanese; Australia has one and it is English; et cetera, and et cetera.

You get the picture. We do many things in this country, but "promote monolingualism" ain't one of them; and even if it was, we sure as hell wouldn't be "the only country" doing it.

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Perhaps what Eva Longoria has to say isn't important and should be ignored.

But perhaps it is important and shouldn't be ignored, because it provides an accurate picture of the strange ethnic obsessions that animate one of America's two major political parties.

What annoys me is not that Eva Longoria wants to pay homage to her distant ancestors. What annoys me is that she wants to pay homage while conspicuously belittling her own country's society -- a society whose environment has allowed her to thrive much more than she could have ever done in any of the Latin American societies she seems to be more fond of.

Nowhere in the interview was there a hint that she cares for her own country. Referring to her family's longevity in Texas, she did say she is "more American than Bill O'Reilly," but that was clearly meant as an indictment of O'Reilly and not a declaration of love for America, or even respect for America.

Eva Longoria's parents are Republicans, and since hers has been a ranching family for almost twice as long as the United States has been a nation, I suspect they aren't the only Republicans with whom she shares a gene pool.

The United States is a melting pot and so is the culture it has produced for generations on end. By obsessing over one of the soup's ingredients instead of noticing the delectable soup that is the end result of all the inredients melding together, it seems that Ms. Longoria is betraying her heritage rather than embracing it.

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And now, may I ask you to check back next week for Part Two? You might be surprised with what I have to say, considering what you just read.