The Daily Parker

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Dionne on English-amendment nonsense

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne writes today about Sen. James Inhofe's (R-OK) asinine English Language amendment:

There is no point to this amendment except to say to members of our currently large Spanish-speaking population that they will be legally and formally disrespected in a way that earlier generations of immigrants from—this is just a partial list—Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, France, Hungary, Greece, China, Japan, Finland, Lithuania, Lebanon, Syria, Bohemia, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia were not.
Immigrants from all these places honored their origins, built an ethnic press and usually worshiped in the languages of their ancestors. But they also learned English because they knew that advancement in our country required them to do so.

My great-grandmother[1] came from Russia, and about the English language amendment she would say: Ich hob in bodereim.[2] She actually never learned English, though she tried desperately. One of her grandsons went on to win a couple of awards for writing, including two from the Writers Guild and a couple of EMMY nominations. So at least in my family, immigration and speaking some other language didn't hurt. I think our story is pretty typical.

Dionne doesn't mention that foreign immigrants have always strengthened the U.S., and we're better for their contributions to language and to everything else. Imagine if you couldn't eat a burrito with salsa while sipping a margarita in a plaza; wouldn't your life be less enjoyable?

[1] One of them. The other three came from Wisconsin, from the English-language enclaves of Milwaukee and Janesville.

[2] "I have it in the bathtub." I'm not sure what this means exactly, but inexactly it's the equivalent of "je m'en fiche" or "I don't give a [darn]."

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