"In Pahrump, a desert outpost in the Western state of Nevada with a growing immigrant population, the local council in November voted an English-only ordinance along with a measure barring residents from flying a foreign flag unless it is placed below an American flag. Violators face a 50-dollar fine and 30 hours of community service."
Using a common tongue for interacting with government of course makes sense on one level. But shouldn't Americans be free to speak whichever language they choose? Shouldn't access to government in a democracy reflect the attributes of the population? In other words, if a large portion of your population speaks Spanish, shouldn't the government use the language as well? What seems to lie at the base of these changes is basic. These laws have appeared in towns that received influxes of immigrant populations only recently, so:
"William Ramos, director of the Washington office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), said the anti-immigrant measures are more a knee-jerk reaction than a thoughtful response to community problems."
Naturally, people who have not had much exposure feel frightened and act defensively, as if under attack, when a new element enters their town. But those feelings do not excuse such un-American measures.
The flag question seems even more problematic: It is a direct attack on the Constitutionally mandated right to freedom of speech. Charging a private citizen with a crime for flying another nation's flag above or instead of a flag of this country is ironic at best and unpatriotic at worst.
But the Pahrump measures and their kin come as part of what proponents call the defense of "our" culture, this sense some hold that the USA is defined not by its declared principles of freedom, liberty, and equality but by racial, ethnic, and linguistic demographics. So, then how do we draw the line? Is this to be a white, Christian nation? If so, why did our forefathers bring millions of black "pagans" here? Do we count Jews on the inside? Asians? What do we do about the Native Americans? After we institutionalize language -- rather than letting it reflect us -- do we then do the same with race and marriage? Will the government recognize only unions between whites? In short, these types of measures do not serve even the cause attempting to curtail undocumented immigration; they seek merely to intimidate those who don't fit into the "right" box.
Technorati tags: Immigration, Politics, Border, House, GOP,Security, Illegal, Crime, English.