English Shminglish

Daryl Metcalfe is a tool.  No wait…saying he’s a tool makes him sound vaguely useful.  No, he’s a douchebag.  And no, that isn’t anti-woman.  Douche is awful.  You don’t need it.  Your vagina is self-cleaning.  Douche is a trick created by the patriarchy to make you think you need to buy something to make your vagina better.  You don’t.  That’s what Daryl Metcalfe is, a useless product foisted upon Pennsylvanians who destroys all our natural microbes…or something.  Look, he’s awful.

I’ve been ranting about Daryl Metcalfe for – literally – years now.  I remember back in 2013 when Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) was trying to defund Planned Parenthood.  I was a Rebel for Equality when Daryl Metcalfe decided to flout business-as-usual and stop gay lawmaker and all around awesome human being, Rep. Brian Sims, from speaking during the unanimous consent portion of the day in the Pennsylvania House.  It was on that day that Rep. Daryl Metcalfe declared Rep. Sims to be in “open rebellion against God.”  Take a minute to digest that.  I remember when Daryl Metcalfe supported a measure – which ultimately passed – that stopped insurance companies in Pennsylvania’s marketplace from covering elective abortion.  Or how about the time that Daryl Metcalfe wanted to nullify any federal gun law passed after December 31, 2012?

So today when my least favorite Pennsylvania legislator blew up my news feed today I was less than shocked.  This is a man with a history of not understanding the difference between religious freedom and using your religion to oppress people.  He did, after all, say of silencing Rep. Brian Sims, “I’m a Christian. Based on the command of Jesus Christ, of Almighty God, I love my fellow man. I work to protect their liberties”…as long as they’re Christian who agree with me.  Apparently he applies the same sort of logic to immigrants.

He believes that everyone who comes to live in the United States should learn English.  Hey look, I’m not arguing that making your way into the ever shrinking American middle-class isn’t made so much easier by speaking fluent English, I’m just saying that this isn’t what we’re talking about.  What we’re talking about is Daryl Metcalfe and people who think like him using this bill as a whisper thin veil behind which they can point at immigrants and call them “other”.

“The committee, chaired by longtime anti-immigrant lawmaker Daryl Metcalfe, has invited a white nationalist to testify, along with representatives of two other anti-immigrant groups.” — Southern Poverty Law Center

Did I say veil?  Okay, maybe no veil.  Apparently it’s just a naked appeal to groups who unabashedly support a system that privileges white people on the idea that white people are somehow superior simply on the basis of something as factory-model as skin color.  I mean…really?  The idea that skin color is somehow a marker of superiority strikes me as somewhat silly, but then I’m not an insecure, tiny little insect of a human being whose only value in this world hangs on something as transparently ridiculous as the paleness of their skin.

In any case, Daryl Metcalfe is the Chair of the State Government Committee.  He’s got some amount of seniority, which should tell you all you need to know about what gerrymandering does to a state.  In the course of a committee hearing on this farce of a bill, of which Rep. Metcalfe is the second listed sponsor, a legislator with an opinion contrary to the almighty Chairman’s wanted to express herself.  Yeah, her.  It’s actually comparatively rare since, in the entire Pennsylvania legislature which comprises 253 Representatives and Senators, there are only 45 female legislators, making a mere 17.8% of the Pennsylvania legislature female.  Not only is this bold Representative one of the 17.8% women in the legislature, she is Pennsylvania’s one and only Latina Representative.  Sure, Pennsylvania is below the national average in terms of Hispanic/Latinx citizens.  We have only 6.6% to the national average of 17.4%.  One representative, however, does not comprise 6.6% of Pennsylvania’s legislature.  She, in fact, comprises 0.39%.  So Representative Leslie Acosta has a lot riding on her when she made a statement during a hearing about this bill to point out that it was completely ridiculous and that enshrining in law the idea that not speaking English should be the barrier that stands between immigrants and being able to understand literally anything to do with government.

Leslie-Acosta
Rep. Leslie Acosta (D-Awesomeville)

Look, I really do get that learning English makes life easier in the US.  I do.  Consider this, though: tax forms.  I’m a person of above average intelligence who is also a native English speaker and tax forms still make me want to put my head through a brick wall occasionally.  And that’s just one of the many kinds of forms our vibrant and massive bureaucracy has at its disposal.  I highly recommend that you check out the Think Progress piece on this incident so that you can watch Rep. Acosta stand her ground (which really is something you’d think Daryl Metcalfe would be all about) while Rep. Metcalfe attempts to shut her up with the power of his manliness up to the point that he just shuts off her microphone.

Briefly, however, a word on covering this story.  As a Pennsylvanian, I understand the motivation to poke fun at Pennsylvania.  I have lived near enough Pittsburgh to be a part of the ‘good’ part of Pennsylvania.  James Carville coined the “Pittsburgh in the west, Philadelphia in the east and Kentucky in middle” ideal that we all understand to be the reality of Pennsylvania.  Nevertheless, it is not productive to call Pennsylvania “the Mississippi of the Northeast”.  Newsflash: New Hampshire has racists too.  So does New York and Connecticut and whatever other states are up in that wasteland we call the Northeast (see, doesn’t feel nice, does it?).  Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel chose to end her brief coverage of this debacle by poking fun at the “atrocious” Pittsburgh accent, which is such an hilarious and fresh take on the situation.

If you remember one thing, however, please remember this: the second that Representative Acosta named a Supreme Court precedent for not declaring an official language Rep. Metcalfe jumped in to stop her from speaking.  When your only defense is to silence your critics, you have no defense.

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