Thursday, May 25, 2006


So, in the midst of an all out immigration war on the home-front, our esteemed president wants to make English the National Language. This is different from the current system insofar that English is, right now, only our "official" language. The only major change that will result in the shift from "official" to "National" is that individuals and organizations would be able to deny people goods and services if they do not speak English.

Ask me: What's wrong with that?

Nothing on the surface. It stands to reason that individuals speaking a language other than English would be forced to seek out alternative providers of goods and services; ones that specialize in serving individuals with said linguistic "deficiencies." This is great for competition and capitalism as a whole. We will provide a federally sponsored program for major corporate conglomerates to expand and even price discriminate against individuals who speak foreign languages due to the "hardship" imposed on the company for having to "deal" with non-English speaking individuals. This starts off sounding good...and moves to bad. Did you see that shift? It happened around "federally sponsored program."

Additionally, any and all public services could (and WILL!!) be denied to individuals speaking foreign languages. What happens here is that anyone who needs emergency care will be denied that service if they can't fill out this form, in triplicate, in English. It also means that any foreign speaking persons wanting to reserve the baseball field at the local state park will be denied said service. It also means no welfare for foreigners, which sounds all well and good, but many of them are less likely to apply for welfare than English speaking, US Citizens (source).

I don't understand why this topic was even brought up by our esteemed leader, George Herbert Walker Bush, as he has enough on his plate to concern himself with than something like this. I mean, when I hear people speak in support of English as the national language, I can't help but wonder "What Would Hitler Do?" And I think he would make Aryan the National Race, too.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I side with those that call this racism. I sincerely believe that this is directed at Spanish speaking individuals. Do I feel concern over whether this will pass? No. I'm sure this type of legislation has been suggested in the past during periods of high immigration by persons from Asia and Europe. Our nation needs be less xenophobic than it has already grown to be, and support of this type of legislation does nothing more than further an ideology of intolerance and fear.

However, I would support any legislation that called for Spanglish as the national language.


Chuck Wade said...

So not only are you wrong about the initiative to make English the national language being racist, but George Herbert Walker Bush is not our current leader. G H W Bush was that other one, you know, the one before Clinton. I also have a general rule, anyone that needs to bring in: Hitler, the Holocaust, Nazis, or the Aryans, automatically loses.

Have you ever been to a country where each state spoke a different language? it makes it almost impossible for them to travel even within their own country and there's no common denominator between the states, it's almost as if each state is a different country. So perhaps before we start screaming about them being racist Nazis, we should be able to eliminate the most obvious explanation (i.e., a vast majority of the people in the US speak English and should be allowed to do so in order to accomplsh every day tasks).

wanderingshadow said...

I find it amusing that a country of immigrants is now bashing immigrants...
I also find the ability to deny people services based on language very scary. Its quite definatly directed at spanish speaking individuals. We are going to move troops to the border, for crying out loud.
Anyway, interesting...I should follow the topic more.

Doyle said...

I disagree to some extent with both Chuck and Ryan. Reason being, English as our National Language is important. If you check our history, the immigrants that we keep talking about made a point that their children learn English when they arrived here in the United States. The idea of having a "National Language" is not uncommon throughout the world. Look at France, for example. They have a "National Language" and even limit what words are allowed to be spoken and not spoken in what is considered official French. More than likely what will happen if English becomes the National Language is that it will create jobs so that there is an interpreter or two on site for anywhere that might require a second language. I would also like to point out that we are making this big deal about Spanish speaking people, ever think about the idea that deaf people have been dealing with this for years and have not yet spoken out. The problem will be handled. The facilities that need to will train someone to facilitate the need, or at least they have up to this point. I think the National Language is important also because of the fact that as a teacher, you cannot hope to teach a student English Lit while speaking Spanish in the US classroom. This does not work. They need to learn English in order to fit in and participate. This same thing goes for those who are older and need to blend with the rest of society. Overall, this is an initiative I support and think is necessary. It is not perfect, as is the same with anything our government does, and will need to be worked on, but it is a long time coming and should be passed into law.

The Cobra said...

Senor Doyle, not to be rude, but your two major premises -- that this legislation will create jobs and better education -- are incorrect. The current system is much more facilitating in creating work for interpreters. If, for example, you have to help every person in need of emergency care at the local hospital, then the hospital will have to, through market forces as well as current legislation, implement a system (i.e. interpreters) in order to provide for the portion of their customer base that does not speak English. Furthermore, no state or federally run organization will employ these interpreters because, here's the kicker, they don't have to. That's how government works: bare minimum. There is no incentive for them to employ translators. Yea, there is actually a system which allows them to legally DISCRIMINATE against non-English speaking citizens.
I understand the how one might think that this might create jobs, but, in actuality, less government intervention into the market will provide a stronger environment for multi-lingual individuals to gain employment for their skills. Query: if the national language was English, would companies (and individuals to a lesser extent) be as avid in searching for employees who are bi-lingual(or, with individuals in college, majoring in a foreign language)?
As far as the education side of your argument goes, I understand the frustration that you, as a teacher, must have. However, saying that because you speak Spanish you can't go to public school is just state sponsored liguisticism, if you will. The solution, also, does not lie in creating a seperate school system which caters to non-english speaking persons. That would be Brown v. Board of Education/Seperate but Equal all over again, and, hopefully, no one thinks that was a good idea.
I believe that, to a certain degree, the problem facing the education system in America is that it is a public service. The more private we make school, and, more significantly, the more freedom of choice there is within the school system, the better it will become. A better solution would be to appropriate funds to school districts that are facing a linguistics issue for the purpose of hiring bi-lingual teachers, interpreter/translators, or continued education for teachers to learn Spanish. These are just as few ideas off the top of my head, but I believe they are all more firmly sounded than saying, "You don't know English, you don't go to school." Certainly not when the last several generations have been raised under a system where High School education is a right.

Doyle said...

The problem I have with what you are saying about Spanish is that it seems as if you are pointing to them having a "right" to have everything in their own language. This is not a right, it is a bi-product of our environment and our semi-misguided leadership. You do not have the right when you go to Germany to have someone speak to you in English. You either learn their language, take an interpreter, or get lucky that they might be bi-lingual. If I visit another country, I do not expect them to speak English, unless it is an English-speaking country. I attempt to learn their language so that I can communicate with them. That is the point you are missing. If a country has a predominate language, then that language is the one that should be used. Like I said, the older class of immigrant from the 1800's and 1900's made a point of having their children learn English, and derived a measure of pride from their learning of the language of America. Like you said, the last few generations have been raised with a certain mentality, that High School is right, and those generations all forced their kids to learn English to fulfill their graduation from at least High School. After all, whether English is the official language or the un-official language, it is the most used. I do not expect a police officer in the US to have to shout "Stop, Police" in 5 different languages, and if he doesn't, then he gets in trouble for causing harm to a suspect. So why is it that I should expect a teacher to have to learn 5 languages to teach an English Lit class? I don't mind the bi-lingualness of our country, however if you want to play the discrimination card, it should be that we currently discriminate against Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, and yes, even Spain (as they have a more formal version of Spanish, much like the English have a more formal version of English). If we were to truly try to be a melting pot, we would have to work with all of those languages and more. Instead of this, because we all know what I thik of the unnecessary layers of government, make English the national language and streamline it all. Yeah, I know this cuts jobs, but middle management always fattens the payroll and costs the consumer more money.

Also, your point about Brown vs. Board of Education is flawed. That is not separate but equal you are dealing with when discussing bi-lingual. You are looking at one species with one language that was not allowed to meet in one building. What I am talking about is one species, two languages, and a group of people that will fail if put into a situation where they are unprepared to deal with assignments. Having people who are unequipped to learn in a classroom going to "remedial" classes is not segregation, but proper preparation. They missed out on K-4 classes, so we have to bring them up to speed.

I do agree w/ your emphasis on the privatization of public schools. We miss a great deal of discipline in our public schools, as well as the horrendous focus we have on sports over academics. However, if you worked in a privatized situation, you would see the possibility of more one-on-one teaching taking place, and this would allow those students who are behind to catch up.