It seems that certain legislators in West Virginia surreptitiously inserted language in a bill that made English the official language of that state. That will amuse some who aren't actually sure English is spoken there.
I should apologize for my mean-spirited assault on the dialects that are found in West Virginia, but I am ticked off. First it ticks me off when legislators who can't win battles on the floor stick bits of legislation into bills that they know their compatriots will not carefully read before final passage. It is a very dishonest practice. Second, making English the official language of a state is an offensive, and to my way of thinking, un-American practice.Years ago, when Florida was debating such a bill, right wing politician/commentator Pat Buchanan said on The McLaughlin Group that the bill was an anti-Catholic and anti-Hispanic piece of legislation. This admission was remarkable since it was primarily people from the Republican party of which he was at least nominally a member who were promoting the bill.
There are various reasons given for supporting legislation making English the official language.
- One James Crawford cites the following as possible reasons
- Citizens who want to preserve our common language and avoid ethnic strife
- Bigots seeking to roll back civil rights advances for language-minority groups
- Conservatives hoping to impose a sense of national unity and civic responsibility
- Liberals who fear that bilingual education and bilingual voting discourage assimilation
- Nativists trying to fan animosity toward immigrants and build support for tighter quotas
- Euro-ethnics who resent "unfair advantages" enjoyed by Hispanics and Asians today
- Politicians attempting to exploit a national mood of isolationism and xenophobia
- Racists who equate multiculturalism and ethnic separatism
- Americans who feel threatened by diversity, among other unsetting changes
- All of the above
The use of English is indispensable to immigrants and their children who wish to participate fully in American society and realize the American Dream. As we seek to promote the rich and varied traditions new Americans bring, we must simultaneously work to insure that all of us share some basis for common understanding. Securing both these important goals requires overcoming the divisive influence of linguistic separatism. English should be and remain the official language of our national government.In fact, while English is the de facto official language of this country, no federal legislation has ever been passed to establish this officially.
House Republicans seem not to appreciate that the use of Spanish in Hispanic neighborhoods is indispensible to Hispanics and their children who wish to participate fully in Hispanic-American society, if I may paraphrase their language. Hispanics constitute our second largest ethic community and it is estimated that by July 1, 2050, Hispanics will constitute 24% of the American population. Twenty-nine million speak Spanish at home. It is this latter fact that is most important.
Spanish is critical to the self-images of those who speak it as their "mother tongue." The same is true of English to those who speak it as their "mother tongue." Legislation such as has been passed in West Virginia constitutes a slap in the face to the Spanish language, officially relegating to second class status, as well as to Hispanic culture.It is ironic that the party that most distrusts government and which fights to get or keep government out of our every day affairs shows no reluctance whatever to using government as an instument of social engineering -- in fact, of social oppression -- provided it is applied to Hispanics, not members of the privledged English-only social class. Republicans would do better to recognize that Spanish is not going to go away any sooner than are the various regional dialects of English, even when they are stigmatized, as is true of some dialects of West Virginia, and move to make the US into a bilingual country. A benefit of this is that all Americans will be able to communicate with each other and that includes Americans south of the boarder who live in Central and South America.