Letters

Will new US citizenship test help immigrants assimilate?

Regarding the Nov. 17 article, "US to unveil new citizenship test": With even legal immigration continuing to skyrocket (against the wishes of many Americans), everything possible must be done to insist that immigrants assimilate to the nation's civic and cultural values. The new citizenship test appears to be a small, welcome step in that direction.

In addition, naturalization must test for a genuine ability to speak English. Political correctness has destroyed the existing requirement such that it is now a joke. A few mumbled phrases will get a passing grade these days, a situation that is intolerable. The national community is greatly diminished when people cannot communicate. Of course, the most effective policy for encouraging assimilation would be to stop immigration entirely for a few decades to allow real acculturation to occur. The country desperately needs it.
Brenda Walker
Berkeley, Calif.

The Nov. 17 article on the new US citizenship test reads in part: "The changes in the US bring the test closer to the notion sweeping Europe that gaining citizenship requires subscribing to a set of shared values."

Passing a test about American values and concepts does absolutely nothing to assure an immigrant will "subscribe" to them. I tend to think it will be merely like getting a driver's license: Practice for the test, pass it, get your license, and then forget much of what you learned once you're on the road. Adopting American values or, more important, being a loyal American, will never come from passing a written test. You either want to assimilate or you don't. You either want to be an American or you don't.
Frank Siniscalchi
Cortlandt, N.Y.

Regarding the Nov. 17 article on the citizenship test: I don't know why people worry about the difficulty of tests for aspiring citizens. If immigrants are sincere enough, they will learn what they need to pass the test. In the Netherlands, my brother – who married a Dutch citizen – also has to take Dutch language lessons and pass a competency test in order to stay in the country. I hope the new US questions are meaningful and stress traditional values. I also hope they ask about our government structure and ideology and aren't driven by political correctness. It seems to me that the experts ought to be free to structure a test that will demonstrate an immigrant's ability to assimilate.
Al Wunsch
The Villages, Fla.

In or out of war, torture is never justified

Regarding Scott Holcomb and Mark Ribbing's Nov. 16 Opinion piece, "War has changed. The laws of war must, too.": Either we are in a war and all the rules of war apply, or we are not in a war and all the rules of criminal procedure apply. In no case can we in the US adopt a lower standard of humane treatment and claim any moral superiority. People must be treated as human beings, pursuant to our own Declaration of Independence and Constitution, or we have already lost the "war," and any further fighting is futile.

Nothing justifies torture as a government policy. Until the 2006 Military Commissions Act is repealed, we are in no position to criticize any policies of any other nation. The Bush doctrine of "anything goes because we are morally right" must be repudiated. America must restore its rightful place as a moral society and a guiding light for the rest of the world. No international criminal element should be allowed to erode our basic principles.
Jack Robinson
Fort Collins, Colo.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

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