“Know Nothings Reject Foreign Languages & Foreigners”
Surprise! Forty-seven percent, almost 50 percent of 2019 Republicans are bothered “a lot” or at least “some” when they hear a foreign language spoken in their presence. The percentages are skewed by age.
38 percent of whites over 50 years of age are bothered “a lot” or at least “some” when they hear foreign language. Based on the fact that the largest ethnic group in America is German (14.7%), we can assume that the largest ethnicity in the cohort that is bothered by hearing foreign languages is itself of German-origin. Add to the German 14.7% the English percentage of 7.80%, the total is 22.5%
There are caveats in Census Bureau data. The second largest ethnicity according to recent census data is non-Hispanic African American at 12.30 percent. That same data shows that Mexicans (10.9%)and Puerto Ricans (1.6%) outnumbered non-Hispanic Blacks nationally.
After the 2020 Census, Mexicans alone will outnumber non-Hispanic Blacks and be the second largest ethnic/national origin voting group in the country. That is reflected in voters numbers that are expected for the 2020 presidential election. The total Hispanic voting-age percentage is projected to be 13% of all voters and be slightly higher than the non-Hispanic Black voting cohort.
The irony of the percentages of those who object to hearing foreign languages is that the last time the nation had a foreign language hiccup was 100 years ago during the First World War and after the allied victory over Kaiser-led Germany and the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian “Empire.” The targeted language and culture was America’s second largest language – German.
Though the last German language newspapers didn’t close in the U.S. until the 1950s, many were shut down in 1917amd 1918. German language books were burned by “patriotic” Americans. Anyone speaking German in public were threatened with violence or commercial boycotts. Beethoven’s music was banned in Pittsburg.
Ironically, the entire American Expeditionary Forces that won WW 1 for civilization over German forces was led by General John J. Pershing whose original family name was German – General John J. “Pfoerschin.”
What we have here is not just a history lesson about American abhorrence of foreigners, their languages and assimilation into America; what we have, is the revelation in recent studies that the hundred-year-old experience of targeting the German language and culture had a measurable impact on national defense and American assimilation.
As reported in the Washington Post, several states, including Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana outlawed the teaching of the German language in school and any other governmental function during and after the 1917-1918 war with Germany.
The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) struck the first blow in 1923 against this racist fascism by knocking down the Nebraska ban on German being taught in Nebraska when it ruled in favor of Robert T. Meyer who was arrested, tried and convicted of teaching German in a Catholic school. He was fined $25. The Nebraska State Supreme Court ruled against him.
SCOTUS ruled against Nebraska stating that the state, “invade(d) the liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and (that it) exceed(ed) the power of the State.” That SCOTUS decision ranks high on the scale of important decisions by the court. It was truly a blow for freedom.
The decision, however high minded, did not prevent a backlash discussed in a paper to be published soon in the Review of Economic Studies by Stanford University’s Political Scientist/Economist Vicki Fouka or a paper Fouka wrote in 2015 on “forced” assimilation.
Fouka: Young German American men who suffered through the anti-German hysteria as school kids did not volunteer for American military forces in 1942-1943 to fight Germany and Japan in World War II. Nor did those young men assimilate a well as previous German-origin people did or have since.
Compare that lack of volunteer enthusiasm to that of German immigrants who flocked to the Union Army when called by President Abraham Lincoln to save the nation. Over 200,000 German immigrant men and their sons fought for the United States – almost one in five of Union soldiers, the largest army in world history.
Those elderly white men and women who object to hearing foreign languages know little, if anything, about American History. Apparently they see the America of immigrants like Founding Father Benjamin Franklin did in 1750; to wit:
Speaking of German immigrants to the American colonies that have grown into the largest ethnicity in today’s United States — “…instead of our Anglifying them, (they) will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.”