As the story I’ve linked here indicates, the Supreme Court of the United States is talking English.
Specifically, the High Court is weighing in on an Alabama case where a Mexican immigrant, Martha Sandoval, sued the state for violating her civil rights by offering its driver’s exam in English-only. Sandoval speaks very little English.
From the story:
I’m hearing SCOTUS likely isn’t going to concern itself much with the English-only law and civil rights. Their focus is on determining whether the Civil Rights Act allows a citizen to sue a state.
But that’s not the part that interests me. It’s the whole issue of English being America’s language, and our societal responsibilities to those who don’t speak it.
I am conflicted on where I stand on this issue.
Our country is a nation of immigrants, and it is what makes us so strong, IMO. But it seemed like in past centuries, those who came here would maintain a similar pride in their native culture and language, but also bust their butts to assimilate into “being an American.” A part of that was learning English.
I’m all for pragmatism and common-sense. In areas where large populations of Spanish-speaking individuals live (southern Calfornia, Texas, etc.), it makes sense that governments, schools and the like provide Spanish wording as well as English.
If I’m reading the aforementioned quote from the story correctly, the state would have to provide its driver’s test in Swahili, or Aramaic, if someone required it. If not, why not? If yes; damn, is that going to be expensive.
Maybe I’m simplistic, but I like the ‘Great American Melting Pot’ vision of America. That doesn’t mean denying your heritage or culture - indeed, celebrate it. Teach us about it. It makes this a better place to be.
But in order to fully participate in America as an American, being able to speak, write, and read English is a near-necessity. It’s fundamental to our effective interaction with one another as citizens.
I don’t support anything that keeps us divided as Americans, particularly where race and creed are concerned.
Yes, our country must respect and protect the civil rights of people like Martha Sandoval. I just think Martha Sandoval has a civil responsibility as well.*
Where does society’s responsibility (particularly financially) to non-English-speaking people in America stop, and the individual’s responsibility to learn the vastly prevalent language begin?
(*It should be noted that perhaps Ms. Sandoval has every intention of learning fluent English and is working toward it, for all I know. I’m more interested in the issue of our society setting up a permissive and expensive infrastructure that offers no encouragement to non-English-speaking people to learn the common language of this country.)