We had a project lunch today at work, and somehow I managed to get into politics with another guy -- typical Dunning-Kruger conservative, if you know what I mean. At one point he claimed that an elementary school in New York City was now requiring Arabic. I immediately said, "No way, that's bullshit, and I'm gonna debunk it right now," and whipped out my phone. (I'm somewhat of a gunslinger with my phone when it comes to debunking, heh...) He assured me it was true, and that his source was the New York Times.
My first search turned up a bunch of hits repeating the claim from a bunch of right-wing asshole sites like Breitbart.com. The most "reliable" source I found in my initial search -- and the scare quotes are very much justified there, I think -- was the New York Post. Not exactly a paragon of journalistic integrity, but I usually expect that they don't outright lie. And sure enough, the Post seemed to confirm that Arabic was required, although it was made clear even in the article from that conserva-tabloid rag that it was simply in lieu of where other foreign languages, like Spanish or French, might be offered. Of course, French isn't spoken by quite as many brown people, so I guess that would be okay.
So I figured I'd better find the original New York Times article. And I did. Turns out to have been a blog post. And lookie at the update at the bottom:
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this post, and the headline, said the Arabic program would be mandatory at the Hamilton Heights School. School officials said that while the lessons will be offered to all students, it is not mandatory.
Thanks a lot, Elbert Chu, for stirring up a whole bunch of anti-Arab race-baiting with your sloppy journalism. You lazy dick...