01 January 2008|
The Case For English As America's Official Language
Inglés, Por Favor
An issue not openly discussed, yet subtly lurking beneath perennial American political debates such as immigration, education and voting rights, is whether English should be made the official language of the United States. Becoming the official language would simply mean that English would be the exclusive language recognized by the government in all communications with its people, and vice versa. This organization believes that America would substantially benefit from making English America's official language, for the following reasons.
1. The lack of a national language has inspired backward, inefficient and racist policy in the name of diversity
The current policy toward foreign languages in American elections is for local communities to provide alternate-language ballots whenever a substantial number of its citizens are known to speak an alternate language. This policy, while well-meaning, ends up being foolish (and racist) for two reasons.
First, those ethnic minorities who are not deemed demographically significant by the state, insignificant as their presence is, who need this bleeding-heart foreign language assistance the most. How does this policy help the sole Icelandic immigrant family with negligible English? The current policy excludes them, because they are ironically too much of a minority to be deemed a protected minority.
Second, those large and significant minority groups - the Spanish-speaking population of Southern California, for example - should need this language help the least. How is it that such a large, entrenched ethnic community cannot inform its people what the Spanish equivalents for "vote", "Republican", and "Democrat" are? Are we to believe that the Spanish speaking community in Southern California lacks bilingual members who are capable of educating its unilingual members in elementary English of civic action?
2. Voters need to understand what they're voting for
With English as the national language, American ballots would never be offered in any foreign languages, and for good reason. By what legitimate justification do we allow non-English speaking citizens to cast their ballots for candidates whose positions, platforms, and other important pronouncements are unintelligible to the voting citizen? The American government, despite periodic legislation coercing bilinguality, mainly issues its decrees in English. One who lacks the capacity to understand and interpret the actions of his government should not be granted the ability to issue elective referenda on that which he does not comprehend to begin with.
3. A national language would in no way infringe on free speech
This organization is a passionate defender of free speech, but we see no way in which a national language would inhibit its exercise. A national language does not make it illegal to speak another language - it merely establishes reasonable prerequisites of comprehension for civic participation. This is no different in its justification than the fact that one must be eighteen before he or she can vote.
Moreover, a higher concentration of English speakers in America in no way harms the nation. In fact, commerce and labor hiring would be eased, and societal communication would be enhanced. As all natives would be completely permitted to retain the use of their foreign tongues, there is no substantial harm.
4. Education, and other considerations
A national language will certainly make public education more effective, as American public schools will be statutorily encouraged to aggressively develop English competency among their students. Currently, American public schools are hamstrung between teaching the unofficial, yet clearly necessary English tongue, whilc being "tolerant" of the indigenous linguistic preferences of their students. A national language will make America's public education policies unambiguous: American students must learn English for effective entry into the political, legal, and social world. It benefits everyone.
The above work is the opinion of The Prometheus Institute.