Monday, October 26, 2009

More conservative group non-think

Being in my car for a few minutes today, I listened to the local conservative talk station. They were addressing this story about a hotel owner in New Mexico who told his Hispanic employees to Anglicize their names while on the job. He also told them they were not permitted to speak Spanish in his presence, out of (get this!) fear that they would be talking about him. This former Marine was afraid his employees would say something bad about him. Gads.

The callers and the host of the talk show were shocked (shocked!) that anyone had a problem with an employer telling people to change their names - especially those of a different ethnic background. I mean, who could imagine such a thing?

I agree that the man can do what he wants in his business. If he wants his employees to wear monkey suits and speak only in Pig Latin, that's his business. But it is also stupid. It is also the right of the people in the community to express their displeasure. And once a business has the reputation for ethnic stupidity, it's not easy to recover from that. A supposedly smart businessman should know better. Lord have mercy, the guy's even from Texas! Can he really be shocked (shocked!) that his Hispanic employees don't want to change their names? Gads.

But what really amazed me was the lockstep agreement from the callers on the radio show. Not a single one of them could even see the point of the employees and of those who disagree with the owner. They were utterly indignant, and their explanations all had to do with "liberal" this and "liberal" that, as well as complaints about illegal immigration. Of course, if the owner is hiring illegals, he is the one who should be getting the brunt from the conservative callers. If this is the case, he is an enabler. But if these are legal workers, especially if they are American citizens, than the illegal alien issue (which is a big issue) is a moot point in this case.

Is this rocket science? Gads.

This "group non-think" is the problem with the two-dimensional labels that pass for social, cultural, and political discourse these days - along with the virtual brainwashing done by talk radio programs. It is as though people get their marching orders and talking points on the morning talk programs, and then call and parrot those same spoon-fed opinions on the afternoon shows.

And, of course, the fact that the owner is a former Marine made him all the more right. Gads.

But how would these same conservative, patriotic American callers feel if their sons and daughters were working for a left-wing version of the hotel owner? What if their kids' boss at McDonald's demanded that they change their names to "Kennedy" or "Clinton" or "Hillary" or "Obama"? What if a worker named Joe was told by his boss that his new name will be "Jose"? What if a Christian kid were given the business name of "Muhammed?"

And considering that the Chinese now own us, how long before hotel owners will be demanding Americans change their names to those easier for Mandarins and Cantonese to pronounce? So, your names are Bill or Jane? Not any more, Chang and Xie. If you don't like it, get a job somewhere else. So, how would that go over on the conservative talk circuit?

Do you think these same callers would be so keen on business owners demanding names to be changed if the shoe were on the other foot?

Peoples' names are peoples' names. I'm not a big fan of some of the monikers young parents come up with these days. But that's what their kids are called. What kind of a boob refuses to call someone by his name? And how myopic of an American businessman in the Southwest to go after Hispanic names! Hello? Are all the pistons firing? Gads.

I can just imagine this guy coming here and telling the iconic Monsieurs Boudreaux and Thibodeaux that they have to Anglicize their names. I think there would be some really happy gators at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge as a result. Bon temps!

And like it or not, we do have people from ethnic backgrounds that make use of names (or even sounds!) that we of the more WASPy persuasion are unfamiliar with. So, roll with it. What's the big deal? Just learn the names! He expects his employees to learn his, doesn't he? People all over the world in metropolitan places deal with this all the time, and have for millennia. And yes, some people voluntarily do Anglicize their names when they move to America. That's fine, if that's what they want to do. Ordering them to do it or lose their jobs is just plain dumb. It even comes across as anti-American. I thought we stood for individual liberty. Imagine what a control freak you must be to tell grown men and women to change their names. Employment is not exactly the same thing as slavery. These are people, not dogs, after all.

But what's worse is the brainwashing job that has made a good number (but certainly not all) conservatives to be virtual clones of one another, seldom veering from the approved party line. Those who disagree in any jot or tittle are looked at askance and their conservative credentials (or their patriotism) are called into question. But it should be that conservatives can think for themselves, disagree, debate, discuss, and learn from the dialogue - with their opponents and with one another. We often accuse the left of not being able to think rationally, and yet conservatism has become so conformist and lockstep (thanks largely to Big Talk Radio) that we might as well issue everyone a little red book of conservative radio talking points and wear matching uniforms. Gads.


Scott Diekmann said...

The employees will for sure be talking about their employer now!

Joe Greene said...

Several years ago, I was machining parts for a Japanese manufacturer that had opened a plant in the US. The lead engineer, Mr. Nakamura, urged us to call him "Charlie." I couldn't do it with a straight face so he remained Mr. Nakamura. (His first name was difficult for Americans to correctly pronounce).

Raggedy Lamb said...

You said it. Gads! This reminds me of one of my Japanese-American uncles. When he was a school boy, his first teacher said his name was too hard to say and thus he would from then on be known at "Pat." That was over 60 years ago! We've come a long way.

Peter said...

I agree. The idea of making people change their names is pretty daffy, though they've been doing it in the entertainment business for years. And, in baseball, the Red Sox have a Japanese pitcher who they simply call "Dice K," for purposes of promotion. Still, I've certainly never heard this kind of stuff from National Review, Rush Limbaugh, or any other national show I'm aware of. Was this a local New Orleans station?

Kaleb said...

This is made all the more ludicrous by the fact that it's happening in New Mexico. Hello? Spanish is an official language there!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Peter:

It was on the local "Rush Radio" affiliate. The story was on the Drudge Report, and broke yesterday.

And I think you make a good point about the entertainment industry and then segueing into sports - which is really just a part of the entertainment industry. As time goes on, I'm finding less difference between WWE wrestling and the NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports. There is about as much showboating and trash-talking. Maybe minor league and high school are the last vestiges of real sports - though parents can get over the top when it comes to grade school, little league, and pee-wee.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Scott:

Maybe he should make them wear a monitor 24/7 so they can't hurt his fragile feelings. Gads.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Joe:

It reminds me of listening to my sixth graders trying to pronounce names from the Bible. They seem to forget that long words are easier when you just say each syllable. :-)

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Raggedy:

Gads! :-)

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Kaleb:

Next thing you'll know, he'll open a Tim Horton's in Quebec City and ban French. The next step will be to rename a particular doughnut as "freedom cruellers."

The stereotype of the Ugly American comes to mind.

Peter said...

I had about the story. I just hadn't heard anyone from Big-Talk Radio praise what the guy had done.
I also tend to think that guys like Rush are successful because they're good at what they do, not because his listeners are somehow unintelligent. We all like to think we're independent thinkers, and that those who disagree are somehow going with the flow. If others want to give it a shot, go for it.

Raggedy Lamb said...


Dice K is actually a pretty clever way to get monolingual Americans to say his proper name the right way! Very few people would know how to say Daisuke, which is the way his name would be spelled using the Roman alphabet.

Tonight at dinner I asked my high school son why people called Matsuda on the Red Sox Dice K, and the whole family gave me that 'duh' look. An American says Dice K, and a Japanese hears Daisuke.

Peter said...

@ Raggedy Ann. That's pretty clever, actually. Go Red Sox!