Szechuan Happens

Oh, good gravy. State Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, is making national news for suggesting Asian voters in Texas take new names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.” At a Texas House committee hearing on a voter identification bill Wednesday, Brown told a representative of OCA, an organization for Asian Pacific Americans (here’s a link to the Houston chapter):

Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here? … Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?

In that astonishingly silly statement, we hear echoes of Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don “Chow Mein” McLeroy’s beef with the Chinese language. From a San Antonio Express-News story last year about new language arts curriculum standards:

What good does it do to put a Chinese story in an English book? You learn all these Chinese words, OK. That’s not going to help you master … English. So you really don’t want Chinese books with a bunch of crazy Chinese words in them. Why should you take a child’s time trying to learn a word that they’ll never ever use again?

He then added that some words — such as chow mein — might be useful to know.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

7 thoughts on “Szechuan Happens

  1. In Texas, the government doesn’t serve the people, the people serve the government.

    We vote people into office so they can change our lives to suit them.

  2. I think all Asian women should be named “Betty Brown” and all Asian men named “Bobby Brown.”

    That way you don’t even have to pick a name!

    Now that we got that out of the way, we really need to do something about Pflugerville. I mean, “Pf?” Let’s get real and drop the pretentious “P.” While we’re at it, let’s just drop the whole “fluger” thing and go with Smallville. Everybody loves Smallville!

  3. And what’s with all those Irish people with *O’ * in front of their names? Talk about making it hard for Real American poll clerks! Do you think Bill O’Reilly will follow Ms Brown’s lead?

    No, I don’t think even Robin Williams in his prime could have made stuff like that up.

  4. I think we need a law specifying which names are legal in Texas. Names should only use certain American characters, in certain easy-to-pronounce combinations. Characters with tildes or accents should be disallowed, because too many clerks don’t know how to type them. Biblical names should be reserved and require special approval by the Texas State Board of Education, since Biblical matters are their primary concern.

  5. I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I think “Hung Chow” is pretty easy, especially with a little Ex-Lax.

  6. Many Asians have already noticed how difficult it is for many English-only speaking Americans to pronounce their names and have voluntarily adopted “American” names. Many of my students have done this — especially those of Chinese or Korean descent. Many of those from India/Pakistan avoid doing this, but they use nicknames based on contractions of their longer names. To suggest that they should be required to do this, however, is asinine and incredibly narrow-minded.

    Many people apparently have difficulty with names that have more than one syllable. Perhaps being exposed to people with “odd” names will change some of this. My American students do not seem to have any trouble with the exotic names of some of their classmates — their teachers … well that’s another story!

  7. The U.S. is suppose to be the leader of the world, but some of our citizens seem to remain in the woods about globalization or just trying to be a little educated… I am ashame to have so many backwards people in our country.