"You've got to turn off the Spanish television set," Schwarzenegger said at the 25th annual National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention, which included many who produce Spanish-language material.
"It's that simple. You've got to learn English," he said. "I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say and I'm going to get myself in trouble. But I know that when I came to this country, I very rarely spoke German to anyone."
The Republican governor, an Austrian immigrant, was responding to a question about how to improve Latino academic performance.
Here's the thing. HE'S RIGHT! Instead of accusing Arnold of being insensitive to immigrants, they should look to him as the example of how immigrants can succeed if they assimilate to our culture, instead of staying immersed in theirs.
But of course, there was whining to be done:
Schwarzenegger last year angered some Latino leaders by observing that Mexican immigrants have problems succeeding in the United States because "they try to stay Mexican." He hammered at the same point Wednesday in San Jose, saying that immigrants from Germany or France have an easier time learning English because they do not have many outlets to speak their native tongues.
"You're just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster," Schwarzenegger said. "It is much more difficult and much more challenging when you are ... let's say, Latino. Because you have so many Latinos, as I see at the Capitol in Sacramento, there are so many Latinos who speak Spanish all the time, they speak to each other in Spanish. So it makes it difficult to perfect their English skills as quickly as possible."
"They're busy working," remarked panelist Pilar Marrero, political editor of Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión. "They don't have time to."
Marrero seemed to grow visibly tense as Schwarzenegger made his case against Spanish-language media, and the governor apologized at one point after he said not to read Spanish-language newspapers.
"Spanish media is there to do what the English media doesn't do, which is to serve the immigrants," Marrero said afterward.
Sara Shakir, managing news producer of Radio Bilingue Inc., a national Latino public radio network based in Fresno, was among those who couldn't believe he would say that, given the audience.
"Here he was, sitting in front of hundreds of journalists whose job it is to create information for people in the language they understand, and reflects their diversity and cultural heritage," she said, "and saying, 'Let's obliterate all that.' "
Cecilia Alvear, a former TV news producer, was only half kidding when she said, "What? And give up my telenovelas?" referring to Spanish-language soap operas. "His message seems to be, 'Let's be monolingual,' " Alvear said.
YES! That's it! What would be wrong with everyone in the UNITED STATES being able to speak English!?!
That doesn't mean poor Ms. Alvear would have to "give up her telenovelas" or stop watching Sabado Gigante!. She already hablas inglais. It's all those other "immigrants" (I am refraining from using the term "aliens" because I wouldn't want to make Geraldo Rivera cry again) who haven't learned to speak English yet who should try language immersion.
It would seem normal that if I were to go live in another country that one of the first things I would do is begin to learn their language. My life would be easier. But the "immigration" community expects us to assimilate to them.
Update...here's the video: