UMW’s commencement speaker this year is Newt Gingrich. And while I have my own misgivings about such a selection, I also recognize that a) education is premised upon access to a broad horizon of differing viewpoints, ideologies, and perspectives, and b) I’m not calling the shots. So, in the spirit of access, here’s a quick sample of one of Newt’s more recent opinions:
The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. … We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.
So, in summary, Newt Gingrich, who is not beyond presuming he speaks for the “American” people, believes that any language other than English spoken formally in the US is akin to economic, intellectual and cultural depravity. Or is this only one way to interpret ‘ghetto’? Perhaps it is more akin to a lens for framing ethnic and racial differences? Or maybe it is wrapped up in the fallacy that economic wealth and prosperity is somehow a reflection of a person’s (or country’s) unassailable moral character. I’m really not sure.
However, I would certainly like to be part of a dialogue around some of these ideas when he comes to Fredericksburg this May. If Gingrich is thinking about using UMW as a stop along the road to presidential candidacy, then it would seem quite important not only to address an audience of college graduates, but to openly discuss and engage the issues facing this country along with the ostensibly misdirected and offensive rhetoric that’s driving it into the ground. If only a commencement speech was more like a blog post!
Wow. He’s sure to inspire young minds.
Nothing like eating crow 10 years after the fact to make a run at the presidency. Newt Gingrich and the liberal arts tradition just seem to have so little in common in my mind -but that also assumes that there is
any kernelmuch of that tradition left in US universities more generally.
Has there been any reaction on campus to this announcement?
There was a good article about it in the student newspaper, which is not online. And I promised myself I’d be good, but when I saw that Newt has not truly “reformed” I had to point it out. Overall, things have been quiet in Fredericksburg more generally, per usual!
Here’s an interesting response to Newt’s attempt to distance himself from the remarks quoted in your post.
He has also delivered a “non-apology” in spanish – http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/04/04/gingrich.spanish/index.html
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