We were not allowed to speak Spanish. We would be given an option. Three days suspension, or three licks with a paddle for speaking Spanish. In the American school they wanted to make Anglos out of all of us. And they [wanted] to take our Spanish away and teach us English. Well, you don't make anybody greater by making them less (Mondale & Patton, 2001, p. 151-152).We have apparently come a long way since then. Today in one of Kansas City's small chain gang high schools, there are no "licks," and the suspension has been reduced from 3 days to a day and a half. Now that's progress!--the bare-knuckled kind that historically has confused American unity with American sameness, or simply viewed difference--any difference--as a challenge to the white protestant owners of economic and moral integrity who have always maintained the high ground by continually reminding the lowlanders of their inferior status. High expectations for all, right?
In order to undo all of the diversity gains of the 60s and 70s, the neo-cons are working overtime in a heated anti-cultural effort to stem the effects of the inexorable browning of America, by burning away behavioral, cultural, language, any differences that could challenge the entrenched hegemony (whose Christmas is now threatened, right?) that has ruled this country since before there was one.
The race is on to complete the effort, with fear as its greatest motivator. The flip side of fear, of course, is anger--and anger remains the preferred mode of operation for those who will not acknowledge their own cowardice.