Thursday, May 25, 2006

I wish I was as smart as George Will

I've never posted on illegal immigration before, because there are plenty of bloggers who focus on it and I don't think I have a lot to add.

George Will wrote something on the issue of declaring English our national language that makes a lot of sense, and so I post it below:

“….Declaring English the national language is a mere gesture. But by ending bilingual ballots, American law would perform its expressive function of buttressing, by codifying and vivifying, certain national assumptions and aspirations.

"Among those is this: The idea of citizenship becomes absurd when sundered from the ability to understand the nation’s civic conversation.

"What makes Americans generally welcoming of immigrants, and what makes immigrants generally assimilable, is that this is a creedal nation, one dedicated to certain propositions, not one whose origins and identity are bound up with ethnicity. But if you are to be welcomed to the enjoyment of American liberty, then America has a few expectations of you.

"One is that you can read the nation’s founding documents and laws, and can comprehend the political discourse that precedes the casting of ballots."

Bingo. This is a creedal nation. Assimilating here means you understand and are committed to that creed - the foundational principles of our nation: individual rights and the rule of law. This is what unites us as a nation and is what has created our unique American culture.

Can people who do not speak English both understand and be committed to these principles? Of course.

But can they participate in the political discourse that helps strengthen and preserve our republic and our culture? Not really.

What has always made me nervouse about so-called "multi-culturalists" is that they implicitly take the position that there is no such thing as an American culture that is worthy of being preserved and protected. And so they seek to preserve and protect the native culture of all immigrant groups by supporting policies such as bilingual education in schools, ballots with multiple languages, etc.

But there is a unique and important American culture that is closely bound together with the founding principles of our nation. If immigrants want to come here, become a part of our culture, and adopt these principles, then I welcome them. This does not mean they have to give up any of the rich cultural traditions of their native land - unless those traditions are in conflict with the foundations of American liberty - individual rights and the rule of law.

It is no accident that the people and groups who support "multi-culturalism" also tend to be pretty fuzzy on the notion of individual rights. In fact they are pretty much the same people who are always pushing group rights and identity poltics.

In other words, they do not support (and in some respects are outright hostile toward) the most fundamental of American principles.


Anonymous said...

Where does Senitor's Smith and Wyden "YES" vote bring us to? Multi-Shamisty or just good old Goldschmiters?

Mayberry both!

Dare!PDX said...

Just to ask.

Where do you think immersion programs for spanish and other languages play into this debate?

Personally I think the programs work to expand the capabilities, outlook and talents of young people. I also like how some of these programs work in two directions - immersion in english and spanish.

I also know that many who oppose immigration (and build their arguments on the evils of illegal immigration) find these emmersion programs repugnant.

Anonymous said...

We are one of the worst countries in the world at learning other people's languages, and immersion programs are terrific. They have proven to be about the best way to learn a language.

We ought to learn other languages for lots of reasons (think we can get Iraqi intelligence by going to the non-English speaking folks and telling them what we want?) including our own education, but those who want to live here and get the benefits of living in the USA need to learn the language of our discussions.

Of course, that includes our own kids, who don't know the language so well, either....

Anonymous said...

Anyone in any country who doesn't speak the language that most people speak is at the mercy of the people who say they can translate. What if they are incompetent or have their own agendas?

No matter where any of us go, if we expect to participate in the society, we ought to learn the language of that society, or we will have a hard time being able to do what we want to do.

Anonymous said...

I will first admit to my ignorance of the immigration situation, but as student;

If I'm working hard, my parents are working hard, 25% of my check goes to taxes, and my parents aren't getting any breaks either, why should I be required to learn someone else's language before I graduate (when I could be spending that seat time on my higher priorities,) while immigrants are having their teeth cleaned for free and buying tweenkies with their food stamps.

I can't remember the last time I had something indulgent as a tweenkie in my house, while I'm toughing out a tooth ache too expensive to repair.

I DO NOT have the time or resources for a second language at present, so puh-leese, lets get the school off my back about it, and can I please take a small part of that 25% of my check I'll never see again to the dentist?

I don't have the knowledge to say what to do about the immigration situation, but I do know large aspects of it are off-color. (no pun intended)