Many years ago, fourteen to be exact, I saw an episode of a science fiction programme that shocked me. I couldn’t remember anything about it other than the words in a single scene that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was a scene in a police station where one officer called one of his colleagues a “Stupid Blanco”.
What triggered my memory about this phrase and the series was the all the recent heated talk about the invasion of illegal immigration in the usa, the proposals for amnesty etc etc.
Thanks to The Internets™ I managed to find information about the series where this scene came from by searching for the phrase “Stupid Blanco”; the series was called ‘Time Trax’ and it is (was):
a Prime Time Entertainment Network American/Australian co-produced science fiction television series that first aired in 1993. It is about a police officer who has been sent into the past to track down and return convicted criminals who have escaped into the past. This was the last new production from Lorimar Television.
In the year 2193, over a hundred criminals became fugitives of law enforcement by travelling back in time two hundred years, using a time machine called Trax. Darien Lambert (Dale Midkiff) was a police detective of that period who was sent back to 1993 in order to apprehend as many of the fugitives as possible. He was assisted by SELMA (Elizabeth Alexander), an extremely small but very powerful computer (described as equivalent to a mainframe)—disguised for the mission as an AT&T MasterCard—who communicated through a holographic interface which took the visual form of a prim British nanny (SELMA was an acronym for Specified Encapsulated Limitless Memory Archive). Lambert was also equipped with a MPPT (Micro-Pellet Projection Tube) disguised as a keyless car alarm remote, which could stun the target or engulf the target in an energy field which would render him transportable to the future, at which point Selma would execute the transmission sequence to send the criminal on his way. Lambert’s biggest enemy was Dr. Mordecai Sahmbi (Peter Donat), who was responsible for sending the fugitives to 1993, and who tried several times to kill him.
Captain Lambert, fearing the possible consequences of altering the timeline, did not actively attempt to interfere with the natural flow of history, although he frequently left messages for his colleagues in 2193 (via the ‘personals’ sections of assorted newspapers). The series made occasional allusions to a theory of parallel timelines as a way of skirting the issue of temporal paradox; essentially, it implied that the time travellers went into an alternate past so that their actions there had no effect on the 2193 “present.” However, the series rarely pursued this point – probably because if Lambert was really in a parallel timeline, he would be unable to leave messages to his colleagues. Also, fugitives are sometimes seen using knowledge of the future to their own ends, which would also be impossible under the ‘parallel’ theory. The series did not have a proper ending – as of the final episode, Lambert was still in 1993 and had not yet completed his mission.
Under the section named Terminology & Technology, you can find the phrase that sent my head spinning:
It is the 22nd Century’s most abrasive racial slur. It is a reference to Caucasians, who are now a minority.
All the ‘European Americans’ who are shouting at the top of their lungs against the tidal wave of mass unchecked illegal immigration from Mexico and the abominable ‘North American Union’ will be frightened to death of a future where the most abrasive ‘racial slur’ applies to them.
It is destined to be called ‘the ‘B’ word’ no doubt.
This was the first time (on television) that I ever saw the issue of America becoming a Spanish speaking country treated in any serious way. I imagine that it is something, an idea, so repugnant to the current majority American English speaking public that no television company would normally finance its production.
The fact is that unless something is done to stop it and American English is legally adopted as the language of the nation and the Spanish language is actively rejected and suppressed, then america WILL become a spanish speaking nation from coast to coast. Already it is the case that over one third of the people in California speak spanish.
Then again, thanks to the internets, we learn that Spanish in america is in fact, nothing new, and as far back as 1870, California enshrined Spanish as one of the languages that the law is delivered in:
California’s first constitution approved an important recognition of Spanish language rights: “All laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions emanating from any of the three supreme powers of this State, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish.” By 1870, English-speaking Americans had become a majority in California. In 1879, California promulgated a new constitution under which all official proceedings were to be conducted only in English; this clause remained in effect until 1966. In 1986, California voters added a new constitutional clause by referendum stating that “English is the official language of the State of California.” However, Spanish is still spoken widely throughout the state, and many government forms, documents, and services are available in both English and Spanish.
This is an issue that has a long history. It can be a source of humor if the population is intelligent however.
On a trip to Quebec in the 80’s I saw a red octagonal ‘STOP’ sign that had been altered with red spray paint (identical in colour to the red of the sign so as to render the spray indistinguishable from the original paint) so that the ‘S’, the top sides of the ‘T’ and the curve of the ‘P’ had been sprayed out to make the sign read ‘101’.
This, which I didn’t know at the time, was an absolutely brilliant piece of political defacement.
I started to see the number ‘101’ grafittied all over the place, and of course, being the curious sort, asked my kind hosts, “what the heck are all the 101s all over Montreal?!”.
It transpired that the state of Quebec was going through a language war between the French speakers (“luh”) and the English speakers (“ay?”).
The ‘101’ refers specifically to:
The Charter of the French Language (also known as Bill 101 and Loi 101) is a law in the province of Quebec, Canada defining French as the only official language of Quebec.
And so, that red octagonal ‘STOP’ sign was brilliantly, and with utter inspiration, transformed from being just a ‘STOP’ sign into a ‘STOP Bill 101’ political statement.
Pure unadulterated Genius!
The French of course, with a beautiful language as their deadly weapon, were not outclassed.
I saw something that made me laugh out loud one day; someone, someone stupid, simply grafittied ‘101’ on a wall somewhere, as so many dumb people did back then, to which the following text was subsequently added by another, more inspired artist:
Oh how we laughed!
Despite the inspiration of the graffiti artists, this was a deadly serious problem and people felt very strongly about the whole issue. Emotions were running high, and there was a noticeable split in Montreal between the French speakers and the English speakers.
and it got serious:
The Charter of the French Language, though popular among a majority of Francophones, has been poorly received by many anglophones and allophones. The enforcers of the Charter, widely derided in English media as the “language police” or “tongue troopers”, are able to levy fines of up to seven thousand dollars per offence to punish those who are not in compliance with the law (“Titre V”, 2004). The charter is claimed by opponents to have caused up to 244,000 people to emigrate from Quebec to other provinces since the 1970s. . Many companies most notably Royal Bank and Bank of Montreal (which even considered removing “Montreal” from its name), moved their major operations to Toronto. Many angrily blame the Charter for hindering Montreal’s economic development, arguing about the status of English as a language of international business.
The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) (which is commonly referred to as l’Office) provides several warnings before resorting to any legal sanctions. Alleged abuse of its power has led to inflated charges of racism and harassment being levelled against them by members of minority groups (Martin 2004). The OQLF urged stores to remove imported kosher goods that did not meet labelling requirements, an action perceived in the Jewish community as an unfair targeting that coincided with a high-profile case against the well-known delicatessen, Schwartz’s (B’nai B’rith, 1996). In 2002, unreliable media accounts reported cases of alleged harassment of allophone merchants who refuse to speak French. (Gravenor, 2002).
and very silly:
One of the specifics of the Charter is insistence of French instructions for all products. During the 1990s Pokémon craze, the then PQ-led government pushed for the publication of French-translated Pokémon cards, lest Wizards of the Coast and the various stores selling the cards be fined. A line of French cards was produced, but did not gain as much value among collectors as the original English and Japanese versions. However, the cards used the Pokemon names from France, because they were merely imported from France or reprinted from France’s cards and not produced for Quebec (most Quebecers knew the Pokemon from their English names, because the video games in Quebec were in English, and the Quebec French dub of the Pokemon anime used the English names).A line of French Yu-Gi-Oh! cards was also produced for Quebec, but it sold rather poorly despite high demand, and only the first two starter decks, first expansion set, and promotional movie cards were released. Other French versions of games (such as Axis & Allies) were merely imported from France, like Pokemon. Some, such as Dreamblade, Heroclix and Star Wars Miniatures, do not have French versions at all, but only short French product descriptions on the package.
As of 2003, all video games sold in Quebec must include French instructions. Stores holding unused games with English-only instructions will be fined for each individual offending copy and see their merchandise seized.
Now, I use the word ‘silly’ but the fact is that these people are taking the threat of the destruction of their culture seriously, and are taking steps to stamp out or at least control English.
There are still Americans who say, “this is america, speak it or beat it”…cough… and essentially, that is what the Royal Bank of Montreal did; they beat it.
And there you have it. If you want to preserve English as the language of the USA, you have to introduce legislation to mandate it, and then get ready for a war over it.
Of course, in a truly federated country like america should be and was designed to be, if New Mexico goes 100% Spanish that is their business, and not the business of the Federal Government.
What a life!