national language

So, Matt posed the question to me about the idea of a national language the other day. He later posted a few thoughts on his blog that I have stolen without permission to copy here. I liked the way he put this and couldn’t agree more, but have also been trying to understand the argument on the other side. Here are Matt’s thoughts:

“Some say that we need a national language in order to promote national unity. I say in response that any unity, national or otherwise, that depends on exclusion is false. If for the sake of unity everyone has to be like me, in this case adopt the US language and culture, there is no real unity but only conformity. Unity can only come when both parties learn to understand each other and benefit from each other. Excluding non-English speakers shows the insecurity of our dominant culture.”

My dad has been, as usual, sending me columns that he likes, and since immigration is a big topic, a lot of them have recently been about such items. Next is a long quote from a column by David Limbaugh, obviously a conservative columnist. My dad gets most of his opinion material from Town Hall, I’m not sure what paper or site Limbaugh writes for.

“But because of the outstanding work of people like Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, and the clarion calls of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.,in publicizing his work and other aspects of the problem, we are now seeing that one of the Senate’s proposed immigration reform bills could greatly exacerbate the problems. Even if Rector’s projections about the inflow of new immigrants over the next 20 years are substantially overstated, there is no question that way too many immigrants will come in during that period.

And there is no question that this nation, given the current state of it’s laws and its refusal to encourage assimilation and promote a national identity, simply cannot absorb them.

With all due respect to the casual elite, we are talking about nothing less than the destruction of America as we know it
“,0] ); //–>. This will come about not so much by “foreigners,” but through our own complicity in devaluing the rule of law by neglecting immigration enforcement and the disgraceful abandonment of our national identity. This will prevent us from promoting the English language, our own sovereignty, our unique constitutional system and our traditional values.

Though we are the greatest nation in the history of the world, we often project anything but pride about that. We act as though we are ashamed of the American culture and Western civilization and must promote a destructive, euphemized multiculturalism, instead of an American blend of multiethnicity. We must celebrate our multiple ethnicities, but promote our common cultural identity. To do otherwise is national suicide. Not only will we become a hopelessly balkanized nation if trends continue, but we’ll bankrupt ourselves in the process.”

I guess that sort of speaks for itself. Perhaps younger generations don’t feel that multi-culturalism is the start of the end of America. Perhaps it’s just me. I understand the need for us to enforce our laws and promote our sovereignity and legal system, which is why we need a conprehensive bill that both strengthens border security in a real way and make provisions for people who are already here. But I think it’s outlandish to suggest that like Matt said, unity is only real if it means conformity. Why can’t we have a mroe diverse nation? Did my great-grandparents really come to America because it was the land of the free, home of the brave, or did they come here for economic reasons? Did they come here because they knew they would get better jobs and more opportunities for their children? Sounds a lot like the reasons most Mexicans come here. My grandparents are all children of immigrants, of course they speak English and perhaps remember some of their parents’ languages. But did my great-grandparents really get off the boat and start speaking English fluently, did they really believe that holding on to their mother tongue was some grand scheme to end America as it was known?

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4 Responses to national language

  1. Jack says:

    Matt’s comment that “Unity can only come when both parties learn to understand each other and benefit from each other” is fine as far as it goes. But how do both parties learn to understand each other if they don’t speak the same language?

    Those who are hurt the most when one group of people doesn’t speak the language of the majority are not the majority, but those in the group who don’t understand them! If I were to move to Mexico for a significant period of time, I would work to learn Spanish. Why? Because it would benefit me. Likewise, people who migrate to the US for a significant period of time should learn English because it will benefit them. Those who suggest otherwise are disingenuous and hypocritical, and show their willingness to exploit immigrants for their political aims.

  2. Laura says:

    I agree, although I certainly don’t believe that the sort of mentality that is behind David Limbaugh and many other’s comments on the issue is as virtuous as what you put forth above.

    I mean, what makes people think that we need a national language? Is there proof that immigrants who have been here for a significant period of time are not learning English? I mean, do we as English-speaking Americans not think that immigrants don’t know they need to learn English? I think most everybody knows that. The reason we have bilingual customer service for all sorts of different businesses, government associations and the like is simply to make the transition easier. I mean, businesses want to do business with anyone, they don’t care what language they speak.

    I think the fact that there are so many people coming here from Spanish-speaking nations that have one common language among them (along with the fact that they are less white than the “average” American) scares people. I mean, honestly, 80 or 100 years ago, was there not Polish spoken on the South side, were there not Germans speaking German on the North side? What is the difference? The fact that there were Germans, Polish, African-Americans, the Irish and Italians simply meant there was not one common language spoken among the immigrants.

    The second generation certainly all spoke English, and the second generation of all these Hispanic immigrants speak English too. But if a kid is brought here from Mexico at five years old and starts going to school, is there something wrong with him having help to transition into English schooling?

    So why suddenly make English our official national language? Is English really threatenened in our current environment? Are we really communicating so badly with the minority groups in our society? Are not millions of second-generation immigrants being assimilated into our society just like non-immigrants? However, we are being too short-sighted to realize that this is normal, because this immigration is new and young, and too quick to pass laws that do little but isolate people.

    My job is to put myself out of a job, so I can be in a rock band in all good conscious and get on with my spoiled, rotten rock star’s life and drink a martini.

  3. Jack says:

    I don’t really understand the resistance to making English the “National Language”. Frankly, I thought it already was.

    But don’t kid yourself about what’s really going on here and on the motives of those who take positions on either side. We are all ultimately self motivated.

    Consider this – The 12 million (or whatever) illegals represent 12 million potential future voters. Those of us on the Right would like all 12 million to become successful, prosperous, and happy, raising families, and living the “American Dream”. Why? Many reasons, but a big one is because a high percentage of them will then vote with those of us on the Right.

    Those on the Left would like the 12 million to become recipients of Government entitlement payments, angry at insensitive, mean spirited Republicans, haters of evil corporate America and all it stands for, and dependent on Government wealth redistribution schemes. Why? Because a high percentage of them will then vote for the Socialist agenda of those on the Left. There may be other reasons, but none that I can figure.

    So, ask yourself which side really wants what is best for the illegals.

  4. Laura says:

    Exactly right, it already, so why suddenly make it “official,” although it’s been perfectly intact unofficially for all these years?

    Socialists? Where are we, Europe? The Democrats here are hardly Socialists.

    Besides, the issues at stake in the immigration debate are hardly partisan. If what you are saying about the potential voters is true, then more politicians of all sides would be pandering to these people in order to win their 12-million-strong affection. The Republicans would hardly be taking the anti-business approach that many are, reprimanding companies who have benefited from illegal workers and the like, if they were solely motivated by the power of voters.

    From this angle, I don’t understand why the Republicans are acting the way they are. Republicans are traditionally more pro-business than Democrats, but then why is there all this outcry against businesses that have benefited and thrived based on the low wages of illegal workers? in my opinion, Republicans tend to be more legalistic, so they have to balance their pro-business stance along with looking like the moral victorians for all those xenophobic white Americans that they also represent.

    As far as the best interest of immigrants, neither party is really getting it right, because, as you said, we are all self-motivated, especially politicians. If the number of illegal immigrants tapping government services were really such a large issue, I believe this issue would have been raised years ago. However, few politicians or government officials talks of the miliions and millions of dollars heading straight from their paychecks into Social Security accounts with mismatched numbers. Where is that money going? What about the millions and millions in taxes that are never refunded because for the most part immigrants don’t file their taxes. Pay taxes, yes, file for refunds, no.

    If either of the parties were actually thinking about the voters, they would be seriously supporting a stream-lined process for guest workers and legal residency. Mexicans do not want to accept government hand-outs, and few of them are. Those who are accepting some sort of assistant, (which I believe is mostly limited to women who have children here and accept WIC and state insurance for them) have no other access to health insurance. And due to the amount they are putting into the economy in the way of sales taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, Social Security, Medicare and the like, I believe they are justified. .

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