[lg policy] Adopting unified language would cause a stir in the melting pot

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 29 15:06:43 UTC 2011

Adopting unified language would cause a stir in the melting pot

Ryan Weber  Staff Writer  Contact me
Posted: September 27, 2011 - 10:12 PM

In this year’s GOP debates and the presidential debates of the
previous election year, there is deliberation among the candidates
about whether to pass legislation creating an official language for
the United States. Several states have passed statutes and legislation
that declared the official language of their governments as English,
but the federal government has not.

Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich
have both explicitly advocated for English as the official language of
government of the United States. Gingrich has held firm for a few
years now that an official language is necessary for the function of
the United States. Often, this sentiment appears when immigration
policy is among the topics for debate. The argument, generally, for
English as the official language is meant to curb illegal immigration,
especially from Mexico.

By forcing English upon all government business, the use of foreign
language in the United States is then believed to decrease, thus
making this country less appealing to immigration. They want to send a
message to immigrants that if you are going to be within this
country’s borders, you are going to speak English.

They argue that instead of assimilating into the “melting pot”
culture, immigrants, legal or illegal, are creating their own
subcultures that differ from the culture and nationalism of the rest
of the United States. Four years ago, Gingrich said without a common
and unifying language for our culture to rest upon, we will be unable
to maintain the civic culture that is necessary for a democracy.

Supposedly, we are becoming more and more segmented by the many
languages in this country, namely Spanish and those of Eastern Asia.
Many people will live here for over 20 years and will still know
little to no English. If we cannot all communicate with each other, we
cannot be united. Or so the argument goes.

This is but a taste of the multitude of tangents this argument has.
With each tangent the issue becomes more segmented, more divided.
President Barack Obama said it best during his presidential campaign
in 2008 when he stated, “The issue is not whether or not if future
generations of immigrants are going to learn English. The question is
how we can come up with a legal, sensible immigration policy.”

There are thousands of legal citizens in this country that do not
speak English, but they work and toil to make something of themselves
and begin a life of prosperity here. They come to this country knowing
that they need to know the language. If the national language is
implemented as some say it will be, the law will disenfranchise many
legal citizens of this country.

Should it become a law, those who now reside in the United States will
be forced to find and attend English as a Second Language courses. The
high demand of the classes will far exceed the supply.

Because this would be a national law, it would be upon the government
to fund the classes. Of course this wouldn’t happen if the Department
of Education was shut down, as has been talked about in many of the
GOP debates.

This hearsay aside, mandating an official language is not an
appropriate solution to unifying this nation, nor is it a suitable
policy for immigration.

Instead of moving the United States toward a monolingual culture, it
should be moving to encourage those who don’t speak English to learn
by providing the necessary resources.

Assimilating into a melting pot requires work from both sides. Those
who don’t speak English in this country should learn it, but those who
only speak English should be on the way to acquiring proficiency in a
second language. Not only does this bring every American citizen to
the same linguistic level, but it also bolsters cultural awareness.
Inherently, a melting pot contains hundreds of cultures, so it only
makes sense to be familiar with them.

Advocating for an official language is a xenophobic immigration policy
— one that runs counter to the foundation of this country. We were
born of a people who came from all over Europe who, speaking many
different languages, simply needed a place to go to escape the horrors
of their old countries.

Requiring an official language will not bind the people by the same
culture, it will ostracize those who can’t speak it. Instead of
bringing a nation together, it will divide it.


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