Language and diversity

Rebecca Martin’s piece regarding bilingual education and the efforts by some to make English the “official” language of the United States ignores at least one salient fact. As bombastic as he may seem, talk radio host Michael Savage has a good point when he says that a nation is defined by three things: borders, culture and language. Our strength as a nation comes from more than simple diversity. We’ve always had diversity; it is far from a new concept to us. More important to our survival is unity, and that involves the use of a common language, whatever it may be, that our citizens can communicate their ideas freely and with the knowledge that those ideas will be fully understood. English became the dominant language by natural process. Most of our people speak it. It is, quite simply, up to the immigrant to learn it just as it would be up to me to learn Spanish if I should immigrate to Mexico or Argentina. Programs to teach English to immigrants from all nations, not just the Spanish-speaking, are fine. But English already is our official language by majority usage. It should also be our official language by legality to preserve our very necessary unity, and to avoid the weakening chaos and cultural strife we’ve such an outstanding example of across our northern border.

Dennis Fishel