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Point/ Counterpoint

Nathan Tabor: English should be official language

Today we have a large and rapidly growing population of immigrants, both legal and illegal, surging into the United States.

America, the modern politically correct theory goes, should become a multilingual culture to reflect the multicultural backgrounds of the various ethnic groups who now live here.

This misguided idea represents the epitome of enlightened liberalism.

I believe that such a move would be a cultural disaster. After all, there are currently more than 300 different languages spoken by various groups within America.

It is true that we are a "nation of immigrants," and that the proverbial American "melting pot" contains individuals from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. It is also legitimate for people to remember and preserve many of their ancient traditions and their ethnic heritage.

However, the essence of immigration has always been assimilation into the larger American society. People flocked to our shores en masse because America alone promised them freedom and the opportunity for a better life than they had elsewhere.

To become naturalized American citizens, these newcomers had to learn our language and our history, and then take a solemn oath to obey our laws and defend our way of life. In other words, they had to change and adapt to the new common culture they desired to join. They might retain their own personal cultural distinctive, but their new national identity made them all uniquely Americans.

"There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans," pronounced President Theodore Roosevelt a century ago.

"We have but one flag. We must also learn one language and that language is English," T.R. shrewdly observed.

Roosevelt's authoritative proclamation came at a high tide of American immigration, when literally hordes of immigrants from Eastern as well as Western Europe were flooding America's shores and filling her cities and factories with the raw human resources of the Industrial Revolution. He saw the dangers as well as the blessings of this massive influx of humanity.

Our founding fathers saw no reason to pass a law mandating what was already true in fact. The overwhelming majority of settlers in colonial America came from what Winston Churchill later famously called "the English-speaking peoples." Thanks to the navies of the British Empire, the English language has encircled and dominated the globe.

Today 27 states have some form of "Official English" law, and there is an ongoing effort in Congress to pass national legislation. Of course, the ACLU opposes this idea, despite the fact that 82 percent of adult Americans favor it, according to the latest Zogby poll.

At a bare minimum, Official English legislation would:

1. Promote unity within the society.

2. Empower immigrants to prosper in the community.

3. Produce efficient, common-sense government.

"I believe we are being dishonest with language minority groups if we tell them they can take full part in American life without learning the English language," said S.I. Hayakawa, the founder of U.S. English Inc., the leader in promoting Official English.

Ronald Reagan said, "By emphasizing the importance of a common language, we safeguard a proud legacy and help to ensure that America's future will be as great as her past,"

For both our great nation and her diverse people, Official English makes good sense.

(Nathan Tabor is a conservative political activist based in Kernersville, N.C. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology and his master's degree in public policy.)

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