I'll cite one simple, yet complex, reason in response to the letter of Name Not Supplied, who takes the position, "If English
is our de facto official language what is the point in passing a law to make it our official language? Other than to be divisive?"
Quite simply, there is no cogent reason why English should not be made the official language of the US, after all, more than 50% of the states have already passed the legislation. Yes, twenty-seven of the fifty states of the US have laws designating English as the national state language, states have the power to do this in exercise of "states rights", guaranteed by the Constitution, in matters that are not pre-empted by federal law. But issues are never simple, and the complexities should not be disregarded.
California, hovering between the fifth and sixth largest gross national product (GNP) in the world, has no official language. Most assuredly, the California legislature would never pass an English-as-the-official-language bill, because it would be a "political hot potato". Although debatable, I believe if today a referendum on the language issue came up in the state of California, such a referendum would not pass. (Strangely, we in California have an "initiative and referendum" system, unknown in many states, whereby if the legislators will not pass a law, the people, or special interest groups, can place the issue on the ballot for a vote.)
Now look down the road 20 years, when California is predominantly Hispanic. Factor in Hispanic family growth rate statistics, voter demographics, pending immigration legislation relating to a guest-worker program that leads to permanent residence for Mexicans, and/or a general Amnesty whereby millions of Mexicans, and other Spanish speakers from South of the border, would once again be granted permanent residence for no other reason than that they entered the US illegally, stayed, and were lucky enough to meet the complex criteria and documentation requirements of an amnesty program. Factor into this equation the opportunity to apply for naturalization after achieving permanent residence, assuring voting status after three or five years. Factor into the equation that the majority of the voters in California twenty years from now will be either bi-lingual Spanish or solely Spanish-speaking (my estimate). Now, factor in the militancy and in some instances outright animosity perpetuated by individuals and special interest groups in the Southwest who, after more than 150 years, remain outraged and downright indignant over the theft of precious land from Mexicans that resulted from the US breach of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (the treaty that ended the Mexican-American war and "guaranteed" certain land ownership rights in the American Southwest to Mexican landholders). What do we have? We have a clear and dangerous possibility that under current law, someday, a referendum could be introduced in the State of California, and who knows, Spanish could be made the "official" language there. As Name Not Supplied correctly observes, "English is our de facto official language" of the US. However, we as a nation do not ever want to be placed in a circumstance where this could change in any one of our great states. That would truly be divisive. We must make English our official national language and must primarily educate our children in that language, for the good of all. While multi-lingualism is good, it should not be for a select few, but for everyone. If Spanish speakers are to be taught bi-lingually, then so should English speakers. I support multi-lingualism in our school systems and commend the emphasis on language in European schools. I think multi-lingualism is a good thing, because each language has beautiful sounds and unique manner of expression that adds to the magnificence of life. But there must be only one official language in culturally diverse America, and that language must be English.
Although multi-ethnicity is the backbone of our great nation, there is no room for multi-nationalism. One small way to assure a common identity as Americans, rather than as displaced nationals of other lands, is through a common language, for there is no greater divisiveness than among neighbors who cannot speak to each other, or resent the tongue in which the other speaks. While we must respect and appreciate all cultures and all languages, an official language of the government of the US is vital to the future good of our nation, and that language must be English. United We Stand - Divided We Fall. That's the American way. And that's a fact.
David D. Murray, Esq.
Newport Beach, CA
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