Immigrants Would Be Wise To Take Arnold’s Advice

I’m not the biggest Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, but when the man who could fairly be called the most successful living American immigrant gives other immigrants advice about how to succeed in America, it would seem wise to pay attention,

Schwarzenegger, who immigrated to the U.S. from Austria, recently told a group of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should stay away from Spanish-language television, books and newspapers.

“You’ve got to turn off the Spanish television set,” Schwarzenegger said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in San Jose, Calif. “You’re just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., called the governor’s advice a “typical sound bite solution to an important issue,” said Jim Dau, a spokesman for Sanchez.

…A Hispanic advocacy group said Schwarzenegger’s comments show his “ignorance on immigration issues.”

…”Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated his ignorance on immigration issues once again by perpetuating the myth that immigrants have to reject their old culture and language in order to learn English and assimilate,” said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Wilkes said today’s Latino immigrants learn English faster than German, Irish and Italian immigrants did a century ago, without TV.

Spanish-language media helps Hispanics stay connected to their cultural heritage and important public information, according to a spokesperson for Univision, a U.S.-based Spanish-language television network.

“Spanish-language media plays the essential roles of providing the Hispanic community with the news and information they need and care about, and keeping them connected to their cultural heritage,” a said the Univision spokeswoman, who declined to provide her name.”

…Francisco Hernandez, an immigration attorney, said there’s nothing wrong with encouraging immigrants to learn English but there’s no need for “immigrant bashing.”

“We have to remember that Spanish is part of this country’s heritage. There’s nothing wrong with it,” Hernandez said.

First of all, if it were really true that, “today’s Latino immigrants learn English faster than German, Irish and Italian immigrants did a century ago, without TV,” then we wouldn’t have signs up in Spanish everywhere and phone options that say press 1 for Spanish and 2 for English.

Also, if you’re an American citizen, your cultural heritage should be here in America. If you have to watch Spanish language TV to get your “cultural heritage,” then that suggests that your “cultural heritage” isn’t American and that you’re not assimilating. That’s problematic.

Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with knowing Spanish, but if you can’t speak English in this country, you’re probably going to spend most of your life as a fruit picker or dish washer. So, unless your American dream is to be 50 years old, standing on a ladder, and picking oranges for 12 hours a day, it would be wise to follow Arnold’s advice to turn off the Spanish TV and learn to speak English.

But heck, what does Arnold know? He just moved to the US, became one of the greatest bodybuilding champions, one of the most successful actors in Hollywood, and the Governor of California. What can other immigrants learn from him?

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