Senator Obama “pandering” for votes

There is no question in my mind that Senator Obama is doing his best to appeal to the widest number of voters to get elected. However, I take issue with his remarks in Powder Springs, GA on Tuesday regarding the need for Americans to learn foreign languages. It’s been more years than I care to admit but when I went to school passing two years of a foreign language was a mandatory college prep requirement.

The problem with any language is that if you don’t continue to use it you will lose it. I would also agree that being able to converse in multiple languages might be an advantage in some professions.

Where the Senator’s train went off the track was his comment on Tuesday that: “it’s embarrassing, it’s embarrassing when–when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, French, German and we go over to Europe, and, and all we can say is “Merci bo ku.””

For beginners, English is the international language for business. In fact, having been to many countries in Europe we never had a problem communicating within those countries.
I know many Californians who have never been east of Las Vegas. I also know people that travel from the east coast who have never ventured past the Mississippi River. So for those citizens, knowledge of a second language would have limited value.

While I can numb you with numbers I must in order to prove another point. Many of the states in American are almost as large as the Nations of Europe. In Europe, while they have a common monetary system, better known as the EURO, they each retain their own national culture and languages. Those living in France need to know German as they freely cross borders. The same applies from the Czech Republic to Germany or any other nation that share a common border.
I would also argue that Europeans go from nation to nation a lot more frequently than Americans cross the Atlantic heading east to Europe.

You can hear the Senator’s remarks at the following link.

Here’s the numbing part of this post. Following is the “square kilometer” area (in thousands) of a dozen European nations as compared to a dozen states to prove my point. I have dropped out the largest from both to avoid the “spin” machine.

France 547, Spain 505, Sweden 450, Germany 350, Italy 301, U.K. 244, Greece 132,
Portugal 92, Austria 84, Denmark 43, Switzerland 41, Turkey 24

Texas 696, CA 424, Ariz 295, Mich. 253, Wash. 185, FL 170,
IL. 150, NY 141, ARK 138, Ohio 116,
VA 111, MASS 27

Question. Do you need to know a foreign language when you visit any of the US states listed above?


About Larry Gilbert