The Outrageous Concept of an Official Language

There is a trend that is sweeping America. It is one based as much in bigotry as it is in lunacy. 28 states already have laws supporting it. These laws make English the Official Language of their state.

I understand the argument for Official Languages. Some will say “many nations have official languages, why can’t America?” “Others will say “English as the official language will force immigrants to learn English, and that’s good for everybody.” I see these arguments, and I see their validity. I also see their flaws.

America is a nation notorious for its linguistic monotony. In a world where so many nations are forced by no more than proximity to teach several languages to their children, America has taught only one because America need only teach one. English is the, as it stands, the world’s most widely spoken language. It is the default language of most international meetings. Americans overseas speak English because the people they are speaking with know it. That is because they have learned it. It is necessary for them to learn English to be successful internationally. English is expected of the international “other” simply because bilingualism is not expected of the English speaker.

This needs to change.

In a nation where Caucasians will soon be in the minority, it is simply foolishness that keeps Spanish out of our elementary schools and “Official Language” ideals in our legislatures.

This is not, in my mind, an issue of illegal immigration. Whether or not Spanish speakers have by and large gotten here legally or illegally is a moot point in this argument. They are here. They are not leaving. Not in large enough numbers to make this a non-problem, anyway.

We’d like to think that it is the immigrant’s job to learn English to get along in America. This is an ideal I have no problem with. If they want to be successful in this country, by all means they ought to learn the country’s prominent language. But to force them to learn the country’s “official language” is to clearly say, “you and your culture are not welcome  here.” Not nice words to print on the side of an increasingly hypocritical “Melting Pot.”

Official Language amendments accomplish nothing, practically. All business at all levels of government are already done in English. If they are not, it is in a situation where the natives are so efficient in a foreign language that it would be absurd to expect them to speak English. And don’t just picture a group of illegal immigrants in some west Texas village’s town hall meeting. I’m not even talking about them.

Which of you would travel to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and tell the Amish there to conduct their business in English, rather than the dialectic German many of them prefer? You wouldn’t dare spit on the Constitution to do such a thing. And while there is no amendment in the Bill of Rights guaranteeing freedom of culture, aren’t there a few guaranteeing things like Freedom of Speech? Freedom of Expression? It’s been a little under a year since my last class which dealt heavily in Constitutional affairs, but I remember something like that.

I guess what it boils down to for these “Official Language” supporters is that you absolutely, positively have the freedom of speech, as long as you speak in English. To me that is an idea that is offensive to the American ideal, the American Dream.  But I guess we all have our different ideas on what it means to be “inherently equal.”

 

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