Monday, December 03, 2007

English-Only Showdown

English-Only Showdown

Does Nancy Pelosi really object to a common language in the workplace?

November 28, 2007, John Fund, Opinion Journal (Excerpts)

”Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn't think that's controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English." A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it "very important" that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment…..

“Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), who authored the now-stalled amendment to prohibit the funding of EEOC lawsuits against English-only rules, is astonished at the opposition he's generated. Rep. Joe Baca (D., Calif.), chair of the Hispanic Caucus, boasted that "there ain't going to be a bill" including the Alexander language because Speaker Pelosi had promised him the conference committee handling the Justice Department's budget would never meet. So Sen. Alexander proposed a compromise, only requiring that Congress be given 30 days notice before the filing of any EEOC lawsuit. "I was turned down flat," he told me. "We are now celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."….

“The alternative to Americanization is polarization. Already a tenth of the population speaks English poorly or not at all. Almost a quarter of all K-12 students nationwide are children of immigrants living between two worlds. It's time for people of good will to reject both the nativist and anti-assimilation extremists and act. If the federal government spends billions on the Voice of America for overseas audiences and on National Public Radio for upscale U.S. listeners, why not fund a "Radio New America" whose primary focus is to teach English and U.S. customs to new arrivals?

In 1999, President Bill Clinton said "new immigrants have a responsibility to enter the mainstream of American life." Eight years later, Clinton strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville are warning their fellow Democrats that the frustration with immigrants and their lack of assimilation is creating a climate akin to the anti-welfare attitudes of the 1990s. They point out that 40% of independent voters now cite border security issues as the primary reason for their discontent.

In 1996, Mr. Clinton and a GOP Congress joined together to defuse the welfare issue by ending the federal welfare entitlement. Bold bipartisan action is needed again. With frustration this deep, it's in the interests of both parties not to let matters get out of hand.” Opinion Journal

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