[lg policy] Opinion: 'Official English' movement isn't racist

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 17 15:23:25 UTC 2012

'Official English' movement isn't racist

12:45 p.m. EDT, March 16, 2012

As an immigrant who supports the unifying role of the English
language, I am deeply offended at the way in which The Baltimore Sun
presented a recent news story detailing what was twice referred to as
"racist" legislation to make English the official language of certain
county governments in Maryland ("Maryland counties seek to make
English official language," Marcy 11). The piece had strong
antagonistic undertones that served only to perpetuate false beliefs
about the Official English movement.

The mission of the Official English movement is simple: To create a
national language policy with English as our common language, to
ensure effective communication, equality of opportunity and national
stability and unity.

The movement does not have an underlying political message. It does
not impact the freedom of individuals to choose the language they
speak on a daily basis. It is simply meant to ensure that immigrants
are put on an equal footing to reach the economic level of native
English speakers.

Currently, if more than 5 percent of a district's voting-age
population speaks a foreign language, localities are required by law
to print ballots in that language. Rather than perpetuating a culture
of exclusion, the Official English movement leaves citizens with the
ability to speak whatever language they choose, while sending the
message that in order to fully participate in American society, one
must speak English.


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