Sunday, June 03, 2007


So, there was another Democratic debate tonight. No big surprises, mainly just more handwringing over Iraq. There was one particular question which interested me:
To a question on whether English should be the official language in the United States, only former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel raised his hand in the affirmative.

But Obama protested the question itself, calling it “the kind of question that was designed precisely to divide us.” He said such questions “do a disservice to the American people.”

Sure, because it's always so divisive to mention any attempt to promote even a semblance of national identity. For Obama, the question isn't whether immigrants will learn English - he takes it on faith that they will. For him, the question is about coming up with a "legal, sensible immigration policy".

For someone who's supposed to be so smart, Obama's clueless when it comes to this issue. First of all, we've made it too easy in this country to get by without a strong grasp of English. Press "1" for English, anyone?. Believe me, there's a difference between being able to get by in an English environment and knowing the language well enough to get ahead. Without strong incentives to gain real competence with the language, future immigrants will never be able to prosper in a society as competitive as ours. Unless, of course, the most we ever want for these people is to cut our lawns and paint our houses. If anything, a language competency requirement should be alogical part of a "sensible immigration policy".

I hate to say it, but at least Hillary had a reasonable argument against English as our official language - it would preclude accomodating non-English speakers by mandating translators in hospitals and government offices and printing voting ballots in multiple languages.

Yeah, I said it was reasonable, I didn't say I agreed with it. In order to vote, one has to be a citizen (at least for now). So, how does someone become a U.S. citizen without learning enough English to read a ballot? How the hell do they even understand the issues they're voting on if they don't speak the language?

Hell yeah, that's exactly the kind of "informed" electorate I want helping to shape the course of this country.

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