Why English is the Best Choice for US

Regarding the Monitor's Dec. 5 Page 1 story, "Court Lends Ear on 'English Only,' " nowhere was it reported what I have said thousands of times over the past nine years: Languages other than English may be used in all the examples your reporters cite but not in enforceable acts. And nowhere were the facts allowed to surface.

This lawsuit by opponents was planned prior to to the passage of Article XXVIII, establishing English as the official language of Arizona. It is another example of using the courts to accomplish what opponents were unable to do through the ballot.

If a government employee has the right to prepare official reports in a language his/her supervisor can't read - which is what is at issue here - it must follow that the supervisor has the same right to issue orders and instructions in his/her language of choice.

Never have the courts granted such rights to government employees. Yet, this is what is being defended. This is not just the right to choose any language; it is also the right to challenge, on First Amendment grounds, any directive a government employer may set down. It's a state's rights issue, too.

Given the resistance to maintaining the primacy of English in the business of government, the notion that immigrants are assimilating is becoming increasingly hard to sell. Such resistance focuses attention on the language separatists' agenda. If government employees have such rights, it will exacerbate ethnic tensions and the workplace will be forced to establish separate supervisorial tracks.

Some governments already require new hires to be bilingual, and it ranges from park attendants to police officers. That shuts the door to a lot of people of all colors. Challenging America's core language does nothing to ameliorate the growing sentiment to pull up the welcome mat.

Robert D. Park

Prescott, Ariz.


English Language Advocates

The Dec. 10 editorial, "English Only?" is the last straw for me in the US debate about our official language. My Outer Mongolian friend at Berkeley in 1956 never suggested that government should be conducted and printed in her language as well as English. Nor did my Mexican relatives by marriage. Throughout our history the millions of welcome immigrants from all over the world have kept their own culture alive while learning their new country's language.

Why should it be different for Spanish-speaking people now? The answer: Their numbers here are so large that they have political clout.

But do we want to lose our logic to politics? Do we want to lose our "all-into-a-richly-complex-one" identity to politics? The logical decision is that while immigrants are welcome here, they do not have a right to change our country into their image simply because, by voting strength, they can. If I were a new citizen from Vietnam or Norway, I would be cross that I had to learn English, but members of another group did not.

My son chose to learn Spanish so he could work with Spanish clients. I know Spanish-speaking people are capable of learning English as our other immigrants have.

Marcia Elder

Bedford, Mass.

Catching criticism

In an apparent attempt to be cute and catchy, the Dec. 3 article, "Fed Up with Feds, Locals Take on Great Lakes Cleanup," has a terribly misleading headline. The 1996 State of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Conference was a forum to bring together experts and decisionmakers at all levels of government and nongovernmental organizations to share information on the protection and restoration of near-shore ecosystems in the Great Lakes. Federal agencies (EPA and Environment Canada) took the lead in organizing the conference, and as the article accurately reported, six local initiatives (three US and three Canadian) were honored at the conference as outstanding examples of Great Lakes stewardship.

John E. Gannon

Dexter, Mich.

Letters must include your mailing address. All are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail (200 words max.) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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