Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 17:46:04 MST From: Tom Uharriet 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 together. 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 utom[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]