There's something that happens every week at work that really irritates me.
Every Friday morning at work we have a meeting; ok, fine. The meeting is usually short and occasionally even informative; the problem is that the Big Boss always has a Spanish interpreter at the meeting. Everything she says is translated into Spanish for all the Hispanic workers. This upsets me; this is not right.
We are in America, not Mexico. America is an English speaking country. English is the language of American culture and American identity. It is the language of America's history and heritage. English is the language of America's founding documents, her classic art, and her national discourse. English is the linguistic glue that helps to hold this dynamic nation together; it's a key ingredient that puts the "Unum" in E pluribus unum: Out of many, one. In short, English solidifies who we are as a people. For immigrants to become American, as opposed to just being in America, they must speak English. They--and American citizens--are free to use any language they want at home, but they must understand that English is the language of public life and national identity.
Some will say that my view is racist and violates the principles of diversity and multiculturalism. I say no. Multiculturalism and diversity aren't always and inherently good. When they weaken national cohesion and encourage the Balkanization of the nation they are not only bad, but dangerous. Having an English only policy in the public square, including work, can help put a check on diversity and multi-culti inspired disunity and parochialism. If immigrants want to be American as they claim, they should have no problem with the primacy of English in America.
And my view isn't racist. What's racist is the expectation of many Latinos that they should be catered to in their native tongue, regardless of the inconvenience or unfairness to anyone else. Hispanics aren't the only people at my job--or in America--whose native language isn't English. There are Asian and African immigrants who work at the warehouse. However, at our Friday morning meetings the Big Boss never has interpreters to translate her words into Vietnamese or Swahili. Why not? I mean, if the demand of multiculturalism is that all cultures should be respected, then shouldn't the Asian and African workers have the meetings in their native tongues? Why are Hispanics deemed the only non-English speakers worthy of translators? Why do they feel themselves to be so entitled? That's the real racism.
The American ideal is equality; everyone is treated the same. All Americans should live up to the same expectations and abide by the same rules. When it comes to language, equality is expecting everyone to use the same linguistic medium of exchange in public life. It's recognizing that America, like every other nation, has it's own history, heritage, and culture that Americans have a right to preserve within their own borders. And immigrants have to respect that. If Hispanics feel they're being victimized by having to speak English they should remember Billy Wilder. Who's Billy Wilder?
Samuel "Billy" Wilder was a renowned Hollywood screen writer and director who wrote and/or directed such classic films as Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, and Some Like It Hot. Wilder was also an immigrant, an Austrian Jew who arrived in America from Nazi Germany via France in 1933. One of the first things Wilder did after arriving in America was learn English. He didn't whine that he was a victim of racism because everything wasn't handed to him in his native language. Instead, Wilder understood that he was no longer in his native country and his native language no longer applied. Wilder learned a new "native" tongue, became a citizen, and then created some of the greatest movies in Hollywood's history. Billy Wilder knew he was expected to learn English and he did. If a White immigrant had to learn English to make it in America, Hispanics have no right to cry "Racism!" when they are expected to do the same.
One of the planks in comprehensive immigration reform is that immigrants/illegal aliens have to learn English. If we're serious about that then we must stop making it easy for immigrants and illegals to function without knowing English. And we certainly must stop catering to one non-English speaking group over all the others. Equality, as stated above, means the same rules and expectations for everyone. Billy Wilder had to learn English, and he was White. Non-Whites can't now demand a different standard for themselves. It's time to kick the translators out of the meeting. English only, please!