English Needs No Protection
Proposals to make English the official language of the United States are well-reasoned, but they would probably be counterproductive to the spread of American culture. We should make an effort, instead, to eliminate laws that promote any language.
Standard American English (SAE), defined and codified during WWII for military purposes, has become the international communication standard in commercial, technical, diplomatic, and military fields. It is studied worldwide -- not as a piece of American culture, but as the best tool for verbal and written communications.
Making English legally the official American language would tend to verify our enemies' propaganda, reinforcing their portrayal of us as an Anglo-centric, racist society. Denying that label after a law is passed would only bring more attention to said propaganda.
Also, English and languages in general bring fresh blood into our society. We need not fear intrusion of other cultures and languages because we are much like ancient China; we absorb other cultures, even ones that try to dominate us, incorporating them into our world so they are then identified as American. Trying to legally stop this process is like trying to legislate morality -- an error in the view of classic liberals.
The best example is France's attempt in the 1960s to legally shut English out of France in order to preserve the purity of French culture. Thinking themselves superior, the French wanted to protect France from the diluting effect of inferior English culture. In European command fashion, they thought that they could prevent cultural change through legislation.
They ignored the models of their own 19th-century sociologists -- i.e., that a nation is like a living organism that needs to eat and eliminate to stay healthy. It must take in new ideas, process them, and then eliminate what it doesn't need. A nation isolated from new ideas starves and dies.
When they cut off the ingestion of English, the French isolated themselves from social nourishment. The world laughed at them behind their sleeves -- those silly, superior French -- but now the French are seeing the sad results of their policy.
The French maintained pure French culture in their cities while rings of Islamic migrants surrounded them, paid by government entitlement programs to remain apart. Now France comprises two cultures, opposed and living next to each other under laws that are also in opposition, one isolating French culture and the other supporting Muslim culture materially through collectivist ideology.
France has achieved a modern "separate but equal" state. Time will tell if the French have the ability to recognize and outlaw their codified racism the way we did ours, or if they remain ethnocentric, their country torn apart by violence.
Making English the American official language copies the French. Granted, the intent is basically protectionist, not racist -- but English is a living, breathing form of communication, and putting it in a bottle, even to protect it, would stunt it.
A student from India attending California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) said he studied English because of its superiority as a means of expression. A technical student, he spoke three languages native to India but considered English superior to all. Its flexibility, its ability to absorb new words around the world and then use those words to express original ideas, makes it the ideal tool for communication in every field. This student considered English vital to his secondary education, and not just a mark of social superiority.
Some say that English is in danger from Mandarin Chinese. Eventually this might be so -- especially if we nationalize English. Right now, even devoted Communists and Chinese nationalists are studying English -- not to become American, but because English (SAE) is the accepted international means of communication.
History proves that language and culture advance together. Making English the official American language would taint that advance by encouraging the Chinese to use their own language instead of "American" due to decades of anti-American propaganda.
In the battle of cultures and languages, there is no need for English to go on the defensive. Indeed, it's not hard to imagine that someday, English could be more widely spoken in China than Chinese.
A better legislative goal would be the elimination of all laws relating to language. Laws that require the printing of forms in languages other than English or the availability of interpreters are on faulty ground. They discourage immigrants from learning English, ultimately harming them, and allow their children to grow up isolated in ghettos. This is bad for immigrants and bad for the nation, as the proponents of these laws well know.
Concentrating on such laws' elimination would better focus the energies of the pro-English movement, save the movement's proponents from a cause easily labeled racist, and put the onus on the multiculturalists to protect their complicated, flimsy, and expensive concepts.
As Thomas Jefferson said, "[t]he flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them."
English needs no legal protection. It travels with the flames of liberty, both internationally and within our borders.
Richard B. Jones is a bilingual probation officer, migrant teacher, and welfare worker living in rural West Texas; he has lived and worked in many places, including China and the Middle East. His blog is TheCaprock.com.