Dartmouth President Freedman's remarks remind us once again of the naivete and ignorance that has overrun vast areas of American academia. Especially distressing, although comical, are his delirious observations on language.
He exhumes the discredited and baseless notion that "One of the United States' most distressing deficiencies is our growing inability to communicate with other nations because we lack proficiency in their languages." What in heaven's name ever gave him that idea? The fact is Americans (and Britons and Australians and Jamaicans and lots of other Anglophone nations) are having a much easier time communicating with other nations than ever before--because English has become the common language of the world.
People are studying English the world over not, as Freedman thinks, to better understand our "culture" or to be able to tap into American markets, but in order to communicate with the world at large and, in many cases, in order to be able to talk to millions of their own countrymen.
In Singapore, where English is required stuff for all students, English is spoken by the Malays to the Tamils and by the Tamils to the Indians and by the Chinese to all three others and to many of their fellow ethnic Chinese. Indeed, on mainland China only the written ideogramic language is commonly understood. The spoken tongue ranges through a huge number of dialects, each almost unintelligible to speakers of the next. So they all study English.