English: Left of Center View
English should be the official language of the United States of America. Frankly itís surprising that this has even become an issue. Every country should have an agreed upon ďofficialĒ language, and every citizen of that country should be fluent in it. Any thing else would be unfair.
America is the land of opportunity, where we are all created equal. A single official language helps to maintain that equality. All public documents, debate and business related to citizens or citizenship should be conducted in the official language of the country. Citizens have rights, but no person has a right to citizenship, it has to be earned. If you want to become a citizen you should have to learn the language.
Otherwise everything government issued, from tax documents to the warning label on your mattress, would have to be provided in every other language spoken in the country. You canít print voter pamphlets in English and Spanish, thatís unfair to the Asian community. Since Asian isnít a language, you now have to provide a translation into Japanese, Korean and Chinese, I mean Mandarin and Cantonese, and well the list goes on and we havenít even addressed Europe yet. The only way to be fair about it is to pick one language to be the official language, and since it is the language spoken by the majority of the citizens it seems logical that our national language be English.
America is the great melting-pot, a place of numerous cultures, languages and traditions. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Having an official language does not diminish our diversity in the least, if anything it helps strengthen it by easing communication between us. This doesnít mean that we should try and extinguish the use of other languages. Far from it, if anything we should encourage it. A wider variety of languages should be taught in the schools, centers that offer bi-lingual education should be eligible for federal grants. A second language other than your native one should be required learning in middle school, if only to prepare our children for the global economy they will be entering.
By requiring that all citizenship related processes be conducted in English you require that all citizens become fluent in the language. Proof of proficiency would be completion of the process. Residency, visa and other official, non-citizen related documents would still be available in a multitude of foreign languages, because having an official language doesnít mean you need to be fluent in it to visit, just if you want to live here and take part in the process. Anything less would simply be unfair.
Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column.
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English Also vs. English Only: Right of Center View
Some people think that wanting immigrants to learn English is equivalent to trying to kill their culture. While that could possibly be true for some nothing could be further from the truth in my views. The real issue as I see it is whether people want to be a part of American society or if they just want to form enclaves of immigrants that exclude the people who do not share their ethnic heritage and language.
In America, the predominant language is English. This means that more people understand English than any other single language in the nation. That would make it the closest thing to a national language in our country. That also means that if people donít speak it, they will not be able to communicate effectively with the majority of the population outside of their ethnic community. That limitation isolates and divides Americans. I donít believe in dividing Americans and therefore cannot support policies that promote divisions based on age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or language. If we create forms and other official documents in other languages and allow people to not interact with people using the excuse of a language barrier, we are enabling divisiveness. Some think that individualism is about being able to isolate yourself but in a larger society that is not practical. On some level you need to be able to interact effectively with others. How is the non-English-speaker supposed to communicate in an emergency situation if there doesn't happen to be a translator around? Even enclaves eventually come into contact with others outside of their enclave and it is irresponsible to willingly avoid gaining the skills to communicate in those instances.
This is not to say that I think that people should not embrace their culture and learn about their heritage and language. My views are quite the opposite. I think that having a sense of personal and cultural history is extremely important. I cherish the different cultures that make up my ancestry and my family. Iím very proud of the fact that my family is comprised of people from around the globe. My cousin, his wife (from Central America) and their children all speak Spanish as well as German and Portuguese. My brother-in-law is from Morocco and immigrated to France before coming to the United States. My wife and son are African American. My parentsí ancestors came from Europe. We truly are an international family. I am very proud of that fact. I'm also proud that many of us speak more than one language and that we all celebrate the diverse cultures we come from. But, the one thing we all also do is speak English. We all speak English because, in America, English is the language of the land and we are all Americans first.
I would never ask someone to abandon their culture or language to live in America but I would also never immigrate to Mexico and not learn Spanish or to China and not learn Chinese. It is out of respect to the people of the land that you speak the language of the land that supports you. To say that it is ďtoo hardĒ to learn English is a copout and if you are too lazy to try, donít ask me to welcome you with open arms. I donít think that everyone can learn it overnight but if youíve been here for more than a few years and canít speak more than a few words, in my view, youíre either stupid or lazy and we donít need more people of either description in the U.S. We certainly have more than our fair share of idiots and lay-abouts. There's no need to import them.
People that truly desire to immigrate and be a part of a nation embrace the culture and the language of that nation as their primary identity. If you want to live here on a permanent basis, you should be an American first and everything else second. If you just want to come here for some fantasy easy life without being part of the society, we donít want you here. If you choose to alienate the majority of the population because you are unwilling to learn the language, the perception of the people around you is that you have basically said that our culture and language are inferior to yours and not worthy of your time and commitment.
Keep your language and culture intact and celebrate them proudly but if you want to immigrate to America, be an American first and foremost. I shouldnít have to learn your language to be understood by you. I didnít move to your country. You moved to mine and before you got here, we were speaking English. My tax dollars should not be spent on catering to those who donít make an effort to learn English. There are other more important things that money could be used for. We have soldiers that have fought and risked their lives for the country that are homeless. Before we spend one dime on forms in fifteen languages, every one of those brave men and women should have a place to call home. They already proved their worth to our nation. They made the effort to show their love for America. You come to us to ask for a place to call home. Youíre the ones that should be making the extra effort now. How can you ask to be a part of our country if you wonít even try to speak our language? Thatís like begging for spare change and then rejecting it because you wanted shiny nickels instead of dull ones. Thatís just rude!
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column.
Last Week's View from the Right: Amnesty
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