Patriotism and Idiocy by Ron Unz
New Republic (Letters), November 26, 2001
Given the all-encompassing focus of TNR and every other major media outlet on the very real Terrorism War, I suppose I should be grateful that a recent column of mine on our initiative campaign to dismantle bilingual education in Massachusetts at least drew mention in your “Idiocy Watch” section.
My piece, entitled “Rocks Falling Upward,” recounted a recent debate at Harvard University, during which I faced an audience of many hundreds of quite fanatic advocates of that program, who packed the large auditorium to bursting. My slightly tongue-in-cheek account described me as the personal “bin Laden” of those individuals, and characterized them in turn as “educational terrorists,” whose fervent devotion to that disastrous program had completely blocked change for over 30 years. Perhaps such levity was in poor taste.
Still, the unfolding evidence from California as presented in the New York Times and elsewhere seems to indicate that eliminating such Spanish-almost- only programs is rapidly doubling the academic performance of over one million young immigrant students. My opponent in the Harvard Debate, Prof. Catherine Snow, repeatedly stressed that bilingual education was based on her bizarre theory that the older you are the easier it is to learn another language. Over recent decades, millions of students throughout America have had their educations and lives likely destroyed because of such absurd doctrine, and the extraordinarily committed followers it has inspired. These are big, big numbers, and perhaps “educational terrorism” is not too strong a word after all.
Ron Unz, Chairman
English for the Children