The English-Only Issue

An essay by James A Graves, Jr.


It is in our nature as humans to want to be loved. Therefore, I can understand why politicians want America to be loved and why they don't want to make decisions that might hurt someone's feelings.


Once elected, politicians can vote as they please because they know that a majority of their constituency doesn't vote, and the ones that do vote do not pay attention to the actions, behavior and voting record of their representatives.


Thirty-three senators voted against an amendment to the immigration Bill 1348, to make English America's official language.


When it comes to illegal immigrant issues, it is not possible for politicians to please everyone. But these issues, especially the language barrier, are huge.


Communication is one of the most important factors in creating friendships, and establishing and maintaining good relationships with our neighbors and fellow citizens.  Newcomers into a strange society are often unwelcome.  Those who cannot communicate are often mistreated.


I’m Irish and I have very hard feelings about the way my ancestors were discriminated against when they came to America.  The Irish were treated as lower class citizens, verbally and physically abused, denied shelter, food and jobs.  However, we survived, learned to speak English and overcame it. 

If I had my way, America would be speaking Gaelic today.  I would have to learn to speak more Gaelic than “Erin-go-Bragh“, but I digress.

Today, St. Patrick’s Day is almost a US national holiday and some Americans who are not Irish claim to have Irish ancestry.  Even my late mother-in-law, who was Hispanic, claimed to be part Irish… tongue-in-cheek, of course.


My point here is that America is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual society but we are not and never have been a multi-lingual nation.  Our ancestors, the bold and courageous people that created this great Republic and established the Constitution never intended that the United States be a multi-lingual nation, otherwise, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution would have been drawn up in other languages as well as English.


Why have so many non-English speaking immigrants to the US insisted that their children speak only English in their homes?

Because they knew that if their children could not communicate in English, they would not be successful in school, in business or in life in America.

If you do not believe it, go to any non-English speaking country and try to establish a business or get a job. You will not succeed. It is simple economics; why should anyone struggle to communicate with you?  It is easier to seek someone with whom they can easily communicate.


Aesop (620 - 560 BC), Greek slave & fable author, said “United we stand, divided we fall.”   Those words still ring true today. America cannot stand if we are divided.  If we have language barriers within our borders, an impenetrable wedge is driven between us.


We face challenging times ahead.  Third-world countries, once dependent on the US to provide technology and economic assistance are matching and exceeding our technology and becoming economically powerful.  India and China are economic forces to be reckoned with in the very near future.  Russia, and the Russian Republics, once non-productive, closed Communist societies, are now ruled by democratic governments, manufacturing and selling all types of goods and services worldwide.


The US standard of living is based on what our past economic capabilities were and America no longer has the luxury of being the assumed economic leader of the world. 

Economic might is tied very closely to military might.  The USSR was brought down by a combination of the cost of their war waged to conquer Afghanistan, and internal corruption and political turmoil. 


Today, the US military is spread thin and drawn into extended campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Moreover, these are not the only political hot spots around the globe; Iran, Korea and Venezuela are also volatile and dangerous.  And there are more.


When America has faced dire situations, like the Civil War, World War I, The Great Depression, and World War II, citizens united and worked together, enabling the US to survive and prosper.


There is never a good time to be divided, and now is most certainly not that time, for divided we will fall.


©2008 James A Graves, Jr.


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