This isn't even close to segregration. I otherwise cannot help but think that many still with us wish that all it would have taken to sit up front and at the counter was their command of the Queen's English.
And re this purportedly being directed against one group. Is that the case? Or is it instead that the one group is simply so large, as compared with others, that such group serves as the "common identifier" [as it were]? And maybe the legality or not of the immigration has also had some role to play in the choosing of target? Let's put it this way, while I don't agree in every respect and in the same tone [as it were], I can see the problem that some might have with persons here illegally "demanding" their "rights?" As I heard someone say on the tele, their "right" is to go promptly to jail or be deported for violating US law.
Someone otherwise posted the list of states that have dual official languages, and I live in one, Hawaii. We have English and Hawaiian as our official languages. There was a while back a "debate" here over whether schools ought to be teaching our children via use of "pidgin" [overwhemlingly "pidgin" English but with some Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, etc. thrown in]. The same claim was made here as is usually made in favor of bilingual education, to wit, forcing them to use the Queen's English rather the pidgin would work to their academic performance disadvantage since the children in question are more familiar with the pidgin than the Queen's English. Those of us who said no, and did so vehemently, were accused of the same things that you report. Of course, I'm trying real hard to understand why I could be considered a racist when I moved, voluntarily, to a place wherein my race makes up only 1/3 of the population [another 1/3 is Japanese and then there's everybody else], but I suppose that those leveling the allegations didn't concern themselves with that reality. And, ironically enough, I used to view the matter in much the same way as most here. But then I had occasion to meet and speak with a Chinese businessman who was here to purchase some real estate. He was simply befuddled at the number of people here whose best English is pidgin English. He asked me how we thought that these people were not cheating themselves, their state, their country, and the world, by not learning English. And he reminded me that English is not only the language of America, it is also the language of world commerce. Then he went on to talk about our failings in math and the sciences, or should I say, our ever decreasing test scores vis-a-vis other nations when it comes to math and science. According to him, it was all part of the same problem, which in his opinion is our ever increasing forgetfulness that excellence breeds success, both individually and collectively [he further claimed that we had begun the process of settling on mediocrity, and so didn't care about math and science scores and proficiency in the use of the English langauge].
And you also said something about how there are "few things more awkward than monolingual American abroad." May I ask where you travel? I've never had a problem, as a matter of fact, more than a few persons in other lands appeared to be glad that I am truly orally conversant only in English, since that gave them the chance to demonstrate their mastery of the English language [which they wore as a mark of distinction and honor, I'll leave it to you and the rest to figure out why that might so and just what that says]. And with respect to those who didn't speak English, they didn't care about my not being able to speak some other language, since they themselves only knew one language and so did not really expect me to be any different than them. So since I don't know where you travel, I'll take a guess and report that it is probably Europe. Filipinos don't care that I don't speak Ilocano, Tagalog, Bicolano, Cebuano, etc. The Thais don't care that I don't speak Thai. The Japanese don't care that I don't speak Japanese. The Chinese don't care that I don't speak Mandarin, Cantonese, etc. And the Koreans don't care that I don't speak Korean. Which is not to say that any of those persons might not be suitably impressed were I to awe them with my command of their language, but my failure in that regard was never a "deal breaker" or otherwise an impediment to some cross-cultural/ethnic/racial understanding. My knowledge of local culture and custom was otherwise far more impressive to them than my use of their language [which, as related, was not conversant, but more along the lines of my using select words, phrases, and idiom], and my knowledge of culture and custom otherwise saved me from more grief than any command of the local langauge could ever have possibly hoped to accomplish.
Oh, that reminds me. Filipinos. They speak a number of languages [more than 100]. And so English serves as a common bond. One would think that such might serve as a lesson for us, but I suppose, going back to the purported racism, that our "little brown brothers" don't have anything to teach us in this regard. And not to irritate Vermillion, but there are two things responsible for whatever unity there is that exists in the Philippines, to wit, the English language and Roman Catholicism. You can read about that here, and this also addresses the point made by some others re the value of English to one's success in the world:http://www.jalt.org/global/26Phil.htm
And from someone who might prefer otherwise:
"At the moment, it is very clear that English borrowing has a dominant and pervading influence in the shaping of the lingua franca which is the penultimate form of Filipino, the national language. But will this trend continue? Language is dynamic. This researcher is of the opinion that as long as English remains the official language of commerce, science,and technology the trend will continue.
Are we now to believe that the process of borrowing from other Philippine and foreign languages is now a linguistic reality? Judging from the data gathered and
presented here, perhaps this is only partially true. That is, borrowing is almost exclusively from the English language. And why is this so? It is difficult to give a substantive answer to this particular question, given the limited scope of this study. Perhaps one indication why there is a lot of borrowing from English compared to other Philippine languages is the facility and appropriateness or applicability of English terms to modern day-to-day living of the average urban Filipino. More so because the urbanized Filipino is constantly exposed to the trappings --high technology, media, etc.-- of modern society which adopts English as its medium of communication, commerce, and education. As for Filipinos living in rural communities, the far-reaching radio and television broadcasts bring to them the linguistic trend emanating from the urban centers."
And for a hopefully brief side-note, speaking of borrowing from English, the Tagalog word for toothpaste is "colgate" [which has less to do with English and more to do with the success of those who market[ed] Colgate in the Philippines]. I found that out by accident when, for the very first time, the future wife and I went out to buy some household and personal products and she informed me that we needed to get some colgate. To which I responded, yes, we need some more toothpaste, but there's more brands than Colgate, so look at them all and pick the one that suits your fancy. To which she then responded, yes, I know that, colgate is our word for toothpaste.
Now back to speaking their language abroad, while I received kudos for knowing to thank those with the same "status" as me by use of "salamat" while I thanked the elderly man and his wife with the more reverent "salamat po," what truly earned the warmth was not anything I said in Filipino [Tagalog]. Instead, the warmth was earned the evening that I was asked to sing a song for the 400-500 people [nearly the whole town] who had gathered to celebrate a town "fiesta", and instead of singing an English [or American] song in my own language, I instead sang one of their songs in English, with the song being Bayan Ko [see: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/2072d/
]. As the town's mayor expressed to me later that night, what impressed was that I had apparently cared enough to not merely sing their song in their language and never mind whether I even understood the words, instead I had made their song my own by "converting" the same into my own language [though I used "greedy" rather than "rapacious"].
So might I accordingly suggest that we might have less of a problem here if the perception was that those speaking other languages cared enough to make our songs their own. Or should I say that while I value familiarity with English for the doors that it can open and the success that it can help achieve, at the same time, and on a whole other level, my concern is not so much over English as it is with attitude, and maybe if the perception was that some had made ours their own, then who cares in what language the attitude is expressed. And so no one can criticize me for not ever saying a bad word about Dubya, I was disappointed with his remark re the national anthem, since I'd rather hear them sing the national anthem in Spanish than hear them sing any and all other songs in English [including the national anthem itself, I mean, they can say "rampart", but what the heck is a rampart that we should watch o'er it, but they've got to know what a rampart is to find the appropriate Spanish for the same].
Lastly, I don't suppose that some have considered the proposition that some others believe that English is and should remain a defining characteristic of American society? And the claim I heard on the tele about how language is not so important is a mistake, and this isn't about getting that fat cat Wall Street job, no, as I've said here on AD prior, we have this word "democracy" in our language. And we wonder why some others in the world apparently have no working conception of the same. That is because of their history, one devoid of "democracy", and so in Arabic there is not even a word that we can use to translate as "democracy." And as someone once said, if it ain't on their tongues you can be sure as s that it ain't on their minds either. So language is important. And, no, you don't have to be a racist to think so.
Sorry, another freebie, Howard Dean is either utak biya ["fish brained"] or maitim ang budhi ["dark souled"].