From Pine View Farm

E. J. Dionne on the Language Po-leece 3

As it considered the immigration bill last week, the Senate passed an utterly useless amendment sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) declaring English to be our “national language” and calling for a government role in “preserving and enhancing” the place of English.

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.

But why should his opinion matter? After all, as he tells us in the column, his father spoke a furrin lingo, and those who speak furrin lingos are most likely subversives, ain’t they?



  1. Opie

    May 24, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    I’d have to read his column to see how he makes the jump from endorsing English as our national language to disrespecting Spanish speaking people. It seems to me he’s left some steps out. I’ll check it out.

  2. Opie

    May 25, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    OK, I’ve read it; two thoughts:

    First, as to his quote, “I tell you all this by way of explaining why I can’t stand the demagoguery directed against immigrants who speak languages other than English.” He doesn’t address the full spectrum of opinion on the matter. I think it would have been a much more honest column if he had said “I tell you all this by way of explaining why I can’t stand the demagoguery directed against immigrants who refuse to learn English.”

    Second, it strikes me as ironic that he talks about his French Canadian background – a society that has not exactly been warm to those who don’t speak their language either.

  3. Frank

    June 11, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    Well, it was an opinion column.

    Noting his timeline, I would guess that his family was probably well out of Canada when the separatist movement gained ground. Although I agree that it would have added to the column had he addressed that, it may not be part of his personal experience.

    And, yeah, the French Canadians could give Xenophobia lessons; it’s part of their French heritage.