The Senate’s vote to make English the “national” language of the
What Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) proposed has been tried before, and then, as now, political demagoguery got in the way.
It was August 1, 1996, and the now-infamous former
This bill had teeth in it. It would have required most official documents to be printed in English and would have allowed (but not required) states to stop using bilingual ballots. The bill also contained logical exceptions for such items as public safety warnings and to ensure that criminals could be informed of charges against them in their native languages.
In the current debate, up rose Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to pronounce the bill “racist.” A decade ago, it was Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D.-R.I.) who talked about “the seeds of hate” as he condemned Republicans: “If you don’t like the way they look, if you don’t like the way they sound, they’re not Americans.”
Cunningham was furious. He demanded to know if Kennedy had ever volunteered to serve his country. And then, sounding as if the debate were being held today, he declared, “We’re tearing down a wall. If I were mean-spirited, I would say, ‘stay where you are. Don’t learn the English language.’”
Perhaps even more relevant to the current discussion is that then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush weighed in on the matter. He was against it—just as he is now. That means it’s unlikely to happen. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.
Back in 1996, Cunningham was quick to point out that boatloads of money could be saved if agencies such as the IRS didn’t have to print forms in multiple languages. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
According to studies made by
Unfortunately, this is one of those issues where facts don’t matter. Political correctness mandates that immigrants, particularly Spanish-speaking ones, not be offended no matter what it costs the taxpayers.
So we end up with a situation reported in USA Today in which a boy named Timmy got a buzz cut because the barber didn’t speak English well enough to understand his request for a trim. And of course, there was the 2000 election in
Four years earlier,
Neither of our most recent two presidents has been any help.
President Bush would never sign a bill for a symbolic “national” language, and certainly would not support an “official” language that would either stop the government from catering to an emerging voting bloc or that might end bilingual education.
Even if the President recalls 1995 when about 60% of French-speaking Quebecers voted to secede from