Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The News from Lake Wobegon

In the "Speak American, Damn It" department, yesterday, the city council of the small Alabama town of Albertville adopted English as its official language.


In the strangest bit of convoluted logic I've ever heard,

Mayor Lindsey Lyons afterward told the audience of about 50 people that he felt confident the ordinance would be "a unifying factor" between the Hispanic community and the rest of the city.

He campaigned for mayor last year promising to curb illegal immigration. A quarter of the city's 24,000 residents are Hispanic. Lyons said last week that he was pushing for the ordinance to preserve the English language. He urged all cities in the state with a large Hispanic population to do the same.

Here, the opposite side of the coin.

Only a few Hispanics were present at the meeting. Among them was Aylene Sepulveda, a Hispanic advocate who has opposed the English ordinance and a proposed ordinance calling for Spanish business signs in the city to include an English translation.

Sepulveda said after the meeting that the English ordinance is like one passed by the state in 1990. It really doesn't do anything but "defeat the cause" of unifying the city, she said.

Sepulveda said the reason more Hispanics don't come to the meetings to voice their opinions is because they feel intimidated.

This is the most asinine justification on the part of the City Council I have ever heard. Listening to them, you'd think the entire English language was under attack from Hispanic immigrants, most of which, I might add, perform basic services and grueling manual labor jobs that many whites feel they are above working these days. Chicken processing and digging foundations for houses are physically demanding work that no one other than Hispanic day laborers really wish to do anymore.

The odd thing is that I bet many of these people who set this policy in place believe that European countries are socialist, wasteful, elitist, and against everything they stand for, but yet these city leaders have just reacted the same way those same cursed countries have regarding their language barrier policies. In an effort to curb immigration and preserve a unique way of life, countries like Switzerland, Belgium, France, Germany, and others have enacted legislation that denotes whichever language historically has been spoken by a majority of residents their official language.

Yes, our Founding Fathers wrote in English and our Founding Documents were all written in English, but this country was also founded on the idea that all people could freely immigrate here, no matter what race, religion, or background they came from and in doing so, make a better life for themselves and their family. That is what doesn't get talked about by people who resort to knee-jerk legislative tactics like these. If we truly want to stop acting like we want diversity in this country, then we ought to put our money where our mouth is. We can act like Americans or we can act like Europeans. Europe, as I understand it, was never founded on the principle of a melting pot or comfortable with diluting its unique identity by encouraging immigration. Change is inevitable in a society based supposedly on diversity and change at times can be uncomfortable, but we can either adapt to it or circle the wagons. Those of you reading this know what side to which I ascribe.

What we need to do is have a debate in this country. Is diversity a good thing or an inherently bad thing for this nation? We often give lip service to the idea of being multicultural while we do the exact opposite when it comes time to put our kids in school or choose where to live.


Punch said...

Amen Brother!

Based on Alabama's track record, what with Tuskeegee Airmen and the Birmingham Jail, outlawing Spanish might be the best thing that ever happened to Hispanics, rolling with in the Crimsion Tide.

Mauigirl said...

Well said, Kevin.

I've never understood this "English as official language" thing. English is becoming the official language of the world, not just America. And despite all the hyperbole, the Hispanic people who come here universally learn English - if not the first generation, then certainly their children - just as every other immigrant group eventually did when they came here.