“We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans.” So said Theodore Roosevelt when the melting pot ethos had a long time left before it would give way to multiculturalism. U.S. English seeks to maintain that melting pot vision in what may be its most crucial aspect: the preservation of a common language.
“This nation is in danger of segregating by language, like Canada,” said Mauro Mujica, an immigrant from Chile who is chairman and CEO of U.S. English. He pointed to our northern neighbor, in which French-speaking Quebec has become increasingly disaffected with the rest of Canada (dominated by English speakers), as an example of how a linguistic divide can promote political and social divisions. In recent years, a greater and greater proportion of the residents of Quebec have even come to favor secession from their nation. Of course, in the United States, the greatest bloc of non-English speakers are Hispanic Spanish-speakers. “We are building a Hispanic nation within this nation, and no one seems to care,” said Mujica.
He said that he did not believe that Hispanics in the southwestern United States would some day want to rejoin that part of America to Mexico. “They know that Mexico has lots of problems and they wouldn’t want to be a part of it,” he said. “I think the danger is not separation but segregating itself off like in Canada. Our Quebec.”
U.S. English promotes and defends official-English laws in the states-27 states have such a law, he said-and tries to get the federal government to pass one. “We have a bill in Congress, HR 997, and we are waiting to see what happens,” said Mujica. “In 1996, a bill passed the House but not the Senate.”
HR 997, sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa), describes itself as designed “to declare English as the official language of the United States, to establish a uniform English language rule for naturalization, and to avoid mis-constructions of the English language texts of the laws of the United States.”
“I think that [President] Bush might find it more acceptable in his second term because he is so worried about the Hispanic vote, which I don’t believe in,” said Mujica. “I don’t believe there is a Hispanic voting bloc.” In any case, he said, “Our polls show that 60% of Hispanics support the idea” of making English the official language of the United States.
“The U.S. English Foundation is a non-partisan, Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) educational foundation that disseminates information on English teaching methods, sponsors educational programs, develops English instructional materials, represents the interests of Official English advocates before state and federal courts and promotes opportunities for people living in the United States to learn English,” says the group’s website. A related organization is U.S. English, Inc. “Founded in 1983 by the late Senator S.I. Hayakawa [R.-Calif.], an immigrant himself, U.S. English now has 1.7 million members nationwide,” says the group.
As grassroots voters state-by-state begin to outlaw bilingual education in the public schools, the education establishment continues its attempt to Balkanize America. U.S. English reported August 4 on an amusing consequence. “Bilingual education has been dismantled by the voters in three states and studies show it is less effective at teaching English than the English immersion method,” said a U.S. English press release. “[A] horror story from Madison, Wis. illustrates how destructive bilingual education can be to immigrant students. Kiet Tran, 15, came to the United States in April 2002 when his Vietnamese mother married John Gardner, an American man from Madison, Wis. Kiet does not know English and Madison school officials placed him in a bilingual education class-for Spanish speakers. Of course, Kiet does not understand Spanish. . . . Mr. Gardner pleaded with the Madison school system to take his son out of the bilingual classes but to no avail.” The family had to move out of the Madison public school district so that its son could be educated.
Mujica said that he travels overseas a good deal, and in Western Europe as well as here, unassimilated immigrants are flooding in and threatening to Balkanize Western countries. There seems to be little effective resistance, he said. “I’m an immigrant to this country. I came in 1963,” he said. “The country I came to was different from the one we have today. I came to a country of white fences and happy people. People were strong and proud to be American. Now it’s different.”
U.S. English May be reached at 1747 Pennsylvania Av. N.W., Suite 1050, Washington, D.C. 20006 (202-833-0100; fax: 202-833-0108; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.us-english.org)