Saturday, February 04, 2006

A future of no accents

Immigrants to America face a seemingly endless array of obstacles, particularly racial and ethnic discrimination. But a Republican legislator from Washington state named Pam Roach has happened upon come upon a novel way for those folks to avoid a lot of that nasty discrimination:

Get rid of their accents.

At least, that's what she told a visiting delegation of Asian American citizens. It all came out when she tried to explain why she was sponsoring onerous voting-registration legislation that appeared aimed at immigrants and minorities:
After explaining to us that SB 6499 was essentially going nowhere, she assured the group that her concern in such legislation was making sure it was valid citizens who voted in elections. After the 2004 Washington Governor's race, there was a lot of activity in Olympia involving voter verification.

Maxine Chan explained that there already existed specific social and logistical barriers to immigrant and minority voters, and additional bureaucracy could disproportionately affect that group. She also mentioned the language barrier, which often resulted in discrimination and difficulty at polling places.

That was when the whole thing turned into a bad horror film.

Senator Roach responded by saying she was sympathetic with the whole language barrier, and that no one should be discriminated against at the polls. She went on to explain that she was an advocate of early English proficiency education, particularly for immigrant children so that they might grow up accent free. She spoke of a future of no accents, which would alleviate a host of problems.

By shedding foreign sounding accents, she thought people would face less discrimination. It was in their best interest.

She then turned to Franklin Yi, a Korean immigrant whom she knew as a constituent, and pointed out his foreign accent. However, she jokingly vouched for Franklin, because she knew him.

You see, in Republicanland, the immigrants and their accents and all that foreign culture they bring here ... they're the problem. Especially the accents. No wonder people discriminate against them!

No wonder they call her La Cucaracha down in Olympia. Without an accent, of course.

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