Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 17:46:04 MST
From: Tom Uharriet UTOM[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ADMN.712.NEBO.EDU
Subject: Re: FOR English Only
Did anyone catch the irony of TERRY IRONS calling ALL English Only
This discussion has really gotten out of control. Where before we
were all seeing evidence of valid thought on both sides, it has
degenerated to sensationalism and abuse. I had hoped that in spite
of it all, we were at least all seeking to understand both sides of
the issue. However, statements such as
I have seen no thoughtful reasons in support of ENGLISH ONLY.
suggest to me that this exchange is not really a discussion at all.
If we close our eyes to others' views and scream our own as the only
true American way, we have lost sight of the worth of open exchange.
The same individual who told me to get the F*** off of this network
if I don't share his views now brings the first amendment into the
argument. Would he eliminate my freedom of speech here? Am I
abusing this freedom by not sharing his view?
Any legislation that is poorly written is likely to be overturned.
It doesn't make the primary concept behind the legislation wrong.
Nor does allowing the law to stand make it right.
Sensationalism was employed in suggesting that the EOL will open a
way for the government to control what we say. Also, if the EOL
is written as it should be, it does not prevent people from speaking
their own languages. It merely establishes a language for conducting
state business. Either way, it is totally unrelated to what people
have the right to say. There are enough reasonable arguments against
EOL. We don't need this kind of emotionalism. Likewise, speaking of
emotionalism, contrary to what was written, English Only proponents
are certainly not un-American. To the contrary, I have already
argued that EOL facilitates assimulation of immigrants into main
stream America. That concept of American unity does not fall under
the heading of un-American. On the other hand, neither does the
anti-EOL position. A common language facilitates and preserves
national unity. We, of all people, recognize the power of language.
That's what makes EOL such a hot topic for us.
I suggest that a national language has the potential of preserving
our national unity. In light of the growing rate of immigration of
non-English speakers, we need to use language to hold us together.
Canada is getting close to a breaking point--divided by language. We
too are building non-English communities which we are subsidising--to
keep them non-English speaking. By subsidising, I mean our taxes are
being spent to keep them comfortable in their non-English American
lives. EOL does not give anyone the right to complain about their
native languages. It simply gives states the right to work in a
single language. I am NOT suggesting that non-English states will
seek to break away from the union. I am suggesting that they are
already broken away in the sense that they--because of language
differences--are distanced from main stream America.
No other nation that I am aware of is facing the language challenge
that we are up against. In spite of our technological advances, such
as this e-mail, communication is breaking down due to language
diversification. With the rate of growth of non-English communities,
it is increasingly difficult to maintain viable communication.
As I reflect on how awful it was for the common people a couple
thousand years ago to have the Greek language spread across the
world, I feel for them. It was not comfortable. It was not fair.
It was not nice. But without it, it would have been impossible to
run the empire. We open our doors to people of all languages. I do
not object to that. If I were born in some of their native lands, I
would probably want to move here too. But now that they are here, we
have a country to run. I see EOL as a way to help hold it all
Are we speaking the same language? To the extent that we do, we can
commune. If, after all that has been written, you still see no
thoughtful reasons for EOL (whether or not you agree with them), then
we must not be speaking the same language. If we are divided by
language, consider how fragmented American society is becoming with
the tax-supported preservation of non-English speaking.
Whether it is fair, nice, or comfortable, Americans need to be able
to freely communicate with most other Americans. On that point, I
think we all agree. The question is how to reach that end. The
Non-EOL approach is for the government to pay to communicate with
everyone in their own language--even if that means that those people
cannot in turn communicate with most other Americans. The EOL
approach is to have everyone learn a common language so that everyone
can communicate with everyone and be thereby united in language--even
though many people may be offended by needing to pay for their own
translators until they themselves learn the national language. Both
approaches have merit. Both have serious flaws. As you know, I
would rather empower them with a second (or third, . . .) language
then protect them from it. I see it as giving them fishing poles
instead of more fish. I wish it were possible to teach them all
English. If not that, I would settle for making it more politically
comfortable for them to learn it.
As with all things, we can find examples of things not working as
they should. I wish we could be sure that ESL programs would
increase with EOL. The truth is, because of all the factors involved
in funding anything, we would propbaly see it increase in some
districts and decrease in others. Perhaps, people in those states
which have passed EOL should lobby for aggressive ESL programs for
young and old alike. In states where such legislation is yet coming,
if you cannot block it (if you believe you should), maybe you can
work ESL funding into the same bill.
One last quote from Terry:
Where reason does not suffice, I have found insult to work.
Does this tactic really work among thinking people? I hope not.
When reason does not suffice, let's open our minds to see the other
side. When our views are not shaken by that broader understanding,
let's try better reasoning. But even then, we won't convince anyone
who isn't willing to be convinced--insults or no insults.
utom[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]admin.712.nebo.edu