Wednesday, November 28, 2007

English Only?

In today's opinion section of the Wall Street Journal John Fund takes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to task for "holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the [Salvation Army] and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies."

The assimilation argument is on.

Fund points out that the assimilation was the policy of the US government, even as immigrants poured over the boarder in the early 1900s.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English."
Fund points out that English-only policies are still very popular (77% in a new poll support the right of employers to have English- only policies), but says that "hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history."

This showdown comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of two Salvation Army employees of a thrift store in Massachusetts. The employees were given one year to adjust to the company's English- only workplace environment, and were fired after they did not comply.

We'll see how far Pelosi is willing to take this battle, but judging by the numbers it could be a winning cause for Republicans.

1 comment:

Goose said...

Assimilation and English only policies are not the same. Assimilation has been and should continue to be the goal of American immigrants. But not because they “owe to the country they are living in”, but because it benefits them to do so. Immigrants and their children will benefit academically and therefore economically by embracing the English language. Trust me, they will learn it. The article points to the immigration patterns of the early 1900 and their forced assimilation. I am pretty sure those groups spoke their own languages too. And in public places, the local governments often provided translation as it was available (which is obviously a lot more available today). In fact, the reason we don’t hear these accounts is simply because the immigration waves changed the over a period of time, whereas the current immigration wave has been predominantly Mexican and Spanish speaking. Just like those immigrants assimilated so will these. The alarmist attitude of many with regard to language issues is comical. The more we incorporate immigrants into “American Society” the more they will assimilate. But if we continue to foster economic policies that isolate them in their ethnic ghetto enclaves, the development of the English language and their proficiency at it will continue to suffer. (Believe it or not people in these communities don’t speak Spanish very well either, it is an education problem, not an immigrant problem). We are in the midst of this migration flow, and when it ends (because it will end one way or another) assimilation will take place just the way it has for everyone with a Mc in their last name or a name ending in i. Assimilation however should not ignore the very real need and desire for immigrants to maintain their cultural heritage. English only policies effectively promote a (and pardon the term) “white washing” of American culture. We are a country of immigrants, and although the history of immigration into the U.S. is one of assimilation, I am pretty sure most of those immigrant groups were not moving to places called “Gli Angeli” or “Sakrament”. My point is this country has a heritage that will forever prevent it from being an English only country. The heritage of the U.S. is one of multiculturalism, and not only that, but one of many languages. Think about that next time you happen to be in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Sacramento, Illinois, Baton Rouge, Milwaukee, Nevada, San Jose, San Diego, St. Louis, El Paso, and the list goes on.

I guess no one here was arguing for English only policies, so in hindsight maybe this shouldn’t sound like I am arguing against someone. Oh Well had to get that off my chest.