Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 17:46:04 MST


Subject: Re: FOR English Only

Did anyone catch the irony of TERRY IRONS calling ALL English Only

people bigots?

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.

Tom Uharriet

Springville, Utah