Friday, May 05, 2006

English Only

Lately I have been thinking a bit about immigration and English as the official language of America. I have heard the arguments on both sides. Some say that English is the language of the American culture and if you want to be a part, you need to speak the language. I know people who cannot get jobs as teachers because they are not bi-lingual and that seems unfair. Others claim that it is not merciful to make old men learn new languages, and that one culture is not necessarily better than another. Both make some good points.

I do believe that I am in favor of making English the official language and requiring those who wish to immigrate here learn English. The reason is because multiculturalism is dangerous. Do not mistake what I am saying. I am not trying to say there is something superior about cultures that speak English, but rather any time two cultures try to exist side by side, they eventually war. Language is very related to that subject. Different languages prohibit one from entering the culture. A non-Spanish speaker can never really be a part of a Spanish speaking culture until he learns the language. The same goes for any language. Different cultures with differing languages or even dialects have tried to exist side by side before, and it has not worked. Take Quebec and Canada for example. Quebec has always tried to separate from Canada because it has its own language and its own culture, and it does not like being part of Canada’s English speaking culture, and the feeling goes both ways. In fact, that problem can be traced all the way back to the American Revolution and the ‘Intolerable Acts’. One of the Intolerable Acts was allowing the newly acquired Quebec to remain French speaking and Roman Catholic. The colonists hated this idea, and during the revolution tried to invade Quebec. Even here in America the Southern accent is still viewed with disdain because at one time it was the sign of a completely different culture, a culture that the Civil War wiped out. The Southern and the Northern cultures could not exist because they were radically different. The same can be said for Ireland, and their they speak the same language. One need not look past modern Israel in this debate either. Two separate cultures cannot exist together in peace. Requiring the learning of English has worked to assimilate many different cultures already. American has always been the great melting pot. America does not have as big a problem with Islamic radicalism because we do a much better job of giving them access to American culture. England and France stand as very recent examples of violence that was homegrown. Thus, I believe it is more merciful to make that old immigrant learn English than to let his children or grandchildren die in a great deal of violence because we did not.

I look forward to some discussion on this topic.

2 Comments:

Andrew Duggan said...

I think you're right. God used the confusion of language at Babel to seperate the population and get them to spread out, and a common-language has ever since been the most basic aspect of a culture. Obviously there are other factors as well (such as geography), but language remains the basis, as your examples demonstrate. I think a multilingual country is more likely to end up as a "house divided against
itself" than a country where nearly everyone can at least understand what is being said.

I disagree with your comment regarding radical Islam, however. Islam especially in its radical forms requires a superior/dominate position for Arab culture. Arab culture/Islam must dominate wherever it goes, and the sword (or riot or IED) is a perfectly legitimate means of bringing that about. Ultimately, its message is, "Submit or die", while is its most simple form Christianity offers "Believe in Jesus Christ and live forever". So its not so much that the countries of Europe have failed to provide access to their cultures and languages, but the European Muslim's rejection of all culture other than Arab/Muslim. "Islam" uses the Arabic language exactly that way as the Koran is held to be untranslatable and is only valid in Arabic, and prayer to their god may only be offered in Arabic.

Lee said...

Andrew,
Thanks for your insightful comments. You are probably right about European Muslims. I grant you that point. Thanks again!

Lee