Yo no habla espanol

January 25, 2009



I respectfully disagree with Nashville voters; and voters in other cities that have already voted down “English first.” Once again Americans demonstrate that they do not understand moderation. We are an all or nothing society.


Having one language as the official and “first” language in our country (or city) does not make us exclusive. If I travel to another country, let’s say Italy and finally achieve my long-time dream, I fully expect I better have some command of their language. By the way, that would be Italian.


Just like if they visit here, they know our language is English and they prepare for that. The difference is that other countries are much better at teaching their citizens—and by citizens I mean children—more than one language. If more Americans were more multi-lingual, the language would not be a barrier.


Our country was founded on the English language, just as it was founded on the Christian faith. Maintaining those principles does not lessen our inclusive nature. If I invite you to my home and we have a dog but you don’t like dogs, you’re not going to feel excluded because I won’t turn my dog out while you’re there. You may exercise your right to cut short your visit, but you won’t let that difference stand between us.


I believe the same is true with language. If we speak different languages, there are some limitations to how we communicate. But it is possible. We could – crazy notion alert! – work together, teach one another bits of the language and forge friendship and education in one easy swoop. But here in America we need to stand firm on our foundation; it is what separates us from the rest of the world.


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