Y’know, even before I clicked on the link, I knew Krauthammer was going to be the author. * ::: sigh ::: *
Pretty much his whole piece is a strawman.
If we wish to make English a requirement for naturalization, (a condition we imposed in the past with no silly laws regarding “official” language), I have no problem with that. However, he has turned the issue upside down. We do not print various government document in non-English languages in order to encourage multiculturalism, but to encourage people to participate in the country. If they can find government assistance in their own language, they are more likely to wish to participate in the culture of the country whereas if we make language a barrier, they are more likely to stick to their enclaves and never take part in our society, even hiding from “the government.”
The reality is that the overwhelming number of people who immigrate (legally or illegally) today make an effort to learn English. It is probably not racist to push for “English only” laws, but it does not solve any particular problem we currently suffer and it opens the door to discrimination on a massive scale.
The 2000 census figures for people who speak Spanish in their homes were:
Count Speak English Percentage
28,101,052 total 1.00
14,349,796 very well 0.510649779
5,819,408 well 0.207088617
5,130,400 poorly 0.182569677
2,801,448 not at all 0.099691926
Census figures on Language, 2000 ( .pdf)
So over 71% of Spanish speakers have learned English well enough to get along in this country without putting up the artificial barrier of an “official” language.
It is also telling, to me, that no one who pushes this bugaboo actually says what the law will mean. (This was clear in the recent Senate games when a law was passed that said, in three different sections, three separate “clarifications” of how English was to be viewed.)
Does such a law prohibit translators for non-English speakers who appear in court as plaintiffs, defendants, or witnesses?
Does such a law prohibit speaking a foreign language on a public street?
Does such a law prohibit advertising in any language other than English?
All the proponents want the law, but few want to demonstrate just what the wording would be or how it would affect the lives of people residing in the U.S. It looks to me as though it is nothing but a shibboleth in which any bigot who encounters a person not speaking English can reach out to this nebulous law and begin harrassing that person for not being “American” enough–with the vague law as support for the bigotry.