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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris. Arizona is getting a lot of attention for its new immigration law. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, the state's Department of Education is telling schools that teachers whose English is heavily accented can no longer work with students who are learning English.

State education officials say the move is meant to ensure that students with limited English have teachers who speak the language flawlessly. Commentator and professor of English Andrei Codrescu has something to say about all this, with an accent.

ANDREI CODRESCU: A huge weight lifted off my psyche when I came to the U.S. from communist Romania and I was told that a police couldn't stop me just because I still wore my commie trench coat and spoke with an accent.

That was in 1966, and now in Arizona in 2010, the police can target both my trench coat and my accent. My last 40 years of teaching would have never happened if the Arizona law had been the law of the land in 1966, 40 years of accented instruction gone by the wayside, gone also the 40 years when American education, lower and higher, finally recognized the diversity of America.

It is amazing that we have to be reminded once again that America was made great by people with accents. Would Professor Albert Einstein have made a better baker? We'll never know.

Come to think of it, the Arizona law doesn't go far enough: People with accents should be banned from any profession that involves communication: politics, for instance. Henry Kissinger's accent would surely qualify for the ban.

And let's not stop with the foreign-born: Ban all accents, Southern accents, for instance, or Yankee ones. Actually, there isn't anyone who speaks without an accent, so let's just ban communicating all together. This would be a much better country if everyone just kept quiet and handed a proof of citizenship to the police.

Arizona's immigration law should be rewritten to make every person who sees a policeman to just go over to that policeman and hand over voluntarily and quietly, proof of residency in the respective police district.

NORRIS: Andrei Codrescu edits Exquisite Corpse, a literary journal online at

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