English should be official language of U.S.


Jessie Fillerup implies in her Sept. 22 column ("English primary, not official tongue") that efforts to make English our country's official language are driven by some sort of white supremacist agenda. Fillerup misunderstands the concept.

First of all, a question: How much taxpayer money do you suppose government agencies spend on other-language printing costs each year? These agencies are not just limited to the U.S. Government Printing Office, which prints an immense number of documents for all agencies at the federal level. Other agencies at the state, county and municipal levels all print documents, notices, forms, even roadsigns.

A percentage of these printings is in languages other than English in the case of Arizona, primarily Spanish. The consequence of any legislation making English the official language would be that government would conduct business in English. It would not mean that citizens wouldn't be free to speak Martian, if they chose to, but that all public dissemination of information by the government would be in English. That means that government could save millions in printing costs each year.

To make English the official language and not teach it to naturalized citizens would, of course, make no sense. Obviously, we as a country should make certain that immigrants have that valuable tool. In fact, there are many foreign and naturalized citizens who seem to have a better command of English than some who were born here! That's a pretty sad commentary on our educational system. Now back to the point. Why shouldn't someone who wants to be a U.S. citizen know English? Language is about understanding. A full understanding of our nation's founding principles, its culture, its political process, comes with understanding its historically predominant language. I wouldn't, for example, emigrate to France without learning French. That would shut me out of a fundamental grasp of the very nation I would call home!

In the U.S., one need only look at Asian immigrants to find a real success story. This is one segment of our population has made incredible strides in assimilating and succeeding at building the lives they want for themselves. Obtaining the tools to realize any goal is a key step to that end.

Fillerup remarks that "...creating an official language polarizes English and non-English speakers, reinforcing ethnic and linguistic barriers." Where is the logic in that? If people can successfully communicate with one another, they can better understand one another. If anything, speaking the same language would help eliminate, not perpetuate, ethnic and cultural misconceptions and stereotypes.

Finally, let me address Fillerup's rhetoric regarding "paranoid conservatives." She would have readers believe that official language initiatives are part of a Republican master plan to repress people of non-Anglo-Saxon descent. Such comments are at best irresponsible, and serve only to perpetuate the belief that social liberals are the protectors of ethnic minorities. Since the inception of the civil rights movement in the 1960s the left-wing has been encouraging a perception of fear among ethnic minorities. After all, if conservatives weren't painted as white-supremacist bullies, the left would lose votes, as well as support for many vacuous social programs. God help the Democrats if any minority were to actually ignore the scare tactics and succeed, despite being told, essentially, "You're different! You need our help to make it in this country!"

We need to concentrate less on how different we all are, and more on what we have in common. We all enjoy the same constitutional rights, we all have the potential to benefit from the same opportunities, and we all face a number of serious challenges to making this country better for our sons and daughters.

Speaking a common language is an invaluable resource towards improving the unique experiment whose name is known to even those who speak in foreign tongues: America.

Maury Patrykus

Theatre Arts Senior

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