Thursday, May 18, 2006

OUR SILLY SENATE

And as Iraq burns, and gas is $3.30+ a gallon, and the Federal government still has not committed to any energy policy other than drilling for more oil, and one in three homeless men is a veteran of our armed services, and the NSA is probably reading this as I type it, the Senate today debated whether to declare English the "national" language of the United States. One vote was 63-34 to declare English our "national" language. Moments later the Senate voted 58-39 to call English our "common and unifying" language. I vote 1-0 to call it "die schoene Sprache Shakespeares" (the beautiful language of Shakespeare). Now we have three meaningless declarations of fact.

There is no doubt that English is the only language in the United States with which you can fully participate in our society. You can vote, shop, be entertained, read, etc. in Spanish, Polish, Romanian, various Chinese dialects, various Indian languages, Russian, Vietnamese, and other languages. However, English is still the language of full participation. Call it the National Language, call it the Common and Unifying Language,whatever. That is true regardless of an idiotic Senate vote. It will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

I am sure that there will be people who accidentally wandered into an ethnic neighborhood where their English was not very useful who will tell me that I don't understand; that this time it's different. Unfortunately, one of the Senators (Jim Inhofe, which sounds pretty foreign to me) helped to clarify the fact that we have already been through this. He quoted Teddy Roosevelt one hundred years ago saying that those living in the United States "must also learn one language and that language is English." Indeed. And so they do, have, and will.

In 1919 Meyer v. Nebraska started. The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Meyer for teaching in a language other than English when he taught a Bible story to a 10 year old in German. That court said:

The salutary purpose of the statute is clear. The Legislature had seen the baneful effects of permitting foreigners, who had taken residence in this country, to rear and educate their children in the language of their native land. The result of that condition was found to be inimical to our own safety. To allow the children of foreigners, who had emigrated here, to be taught from early childhood the language of the country of their parents was ... to educate them so that they must always think in that language, and, as a consequence, naturally inculcate in them the ideas and sentiments foreign to the best interests of this country.

Sound familiar? You know, this time is different. Just like it was in 1919, when Germans were "it" in America's game of Fear the Foreigner. In 1923 the United States Supreme Court overturned the Nebraska law, as well as similar laws in Iowa and Ohio. As luck would have it, none of these states ended up leaving the United States and merging with Germany since 1923. Let's keep our fingers crossed that they don't do it any time soon!

Thus, while modern day Know Nothings waste their time on unworkable "immigration reform" and these language beefs, we are at war and are doing nothing to render the areas in which we fight irrelevant to us. Truly that is a good use of the Senate's time.

ADDENDUM: Today's sign of the apocalypse is that George Bush apparently agrees that this amendment to make English the "national" language is a bad idea. G.W. and I agree that we both like baseball, would both rather live in the U.S. than elsewhere, and now this.

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