Schaefers Big Mac Attack; Ehrlichs Red Meat
Not just the timing was unfortunate when Marylands two most recognizable politicians, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Gov. Robert Ehrlich, carried on last week about culture and immigration.
The 82-year-old Schaefers remarks were slightly more forgivable given his irascibility. But Ehrlichs assertion later that multiculturalism was bunk and crap was tone deaf to the times and contrary to his Republican Partys drive to expand its base.
Some background: After a trip to a McDonalds, Schaefer complained about not being able to understand a worker taking his order. (Could junk food be the cause of Schaefers perpetual grumpiness?)
This is the United States. I think they ought to adjust to us, Schaefer proclaimed, impromptu, at the meeting of the Board of Public works. Apparently he meant that newly arrived workers should spruce up their English. Pronto!
Ehrlich, asked about the episode on talk radio a day later, said he agreed with Schaefers comments and poured some gas of his own on the flickering flame. Once you get into this multicultural crap, this bunk, you run into a problem
Should we encourage young folks here to be assimilated, to learn the culture and values? Of course, he said.
Multiculturalism is one of those muddled terms that means different things to different people. To most folks not caught up in polemics, it suggests little more than staying sensitive toward racial minorities and immigrants. But to many in the hard-right, the word conjures up scary thoughts about attacks on heritage by people who are, well, not like you and me.
We understand that Ehrlich wants to remain on the good side of Schaefer, a Republicrat by any other name. Ask ex-Gov. Parris Glendening what happens when you land on the old fellas bad side. (Think killer bees.)
We also know how one can get carried away in the midst of ones like-minded pals, which can happen in the conservative humidor of talk radio, the governors preferred medium.
But in times like this, it might be better to use a bit of tact when referring to other cultures. Were referring here to the debacle in Iraq, which is rapidly persuading the world (unjustly) that Americas is an insensitive indeed cruel culture.
We would hope that however Ehrlich looks at the world, and we believe its with charity, that he would take every opportunity to preach the gospel of tolerance rather than flipping red meat to his political base. And recommend that his two sons take Spanish in school.
We know that Schaefer and Ehrlich come from special families. But we doubt whether their ancestors landed here von Deutschland speaking English without an accent.