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Recently, Judge Joe I. Cardenas, of Weslaco, Texas, suggested that
some of his traffic court visitors learn English as “a way to better
themselves and their families.” He didn’t order them to take English
classes as a way to beat a traffic rap. He didn’t say that they were
stupid for speaking Spanish. He just said that if they took free
English classes at the local high school, their chances for a better
life in America would be much higher.

In most parts of the world, they would applaud this common-sense
suggestion. However, in South Texas, the illiberal left declared war on
the good judge for speaking in a non politically correct way. In fact,
they made so much noise and became so abusive that the good judge
resigned in disgust. And once again, the ACLU stood silently by,
allowing our Constitution to be further diminished.

It is time for us to stand up for English as the official language of
America. Don’t get me wrong. Spanish is a wonderful, beautiful
language and many who speak only Spanish are smarter than their
English-speaking neighbors. However, the harsh reality is that if you
don’t speak English in the United States, it is much harder for you to
take advantage of everything this wonderful country has to offer.

This fact is especially important in South Texas, where more than 50
percent of all Latino children drop out of high school. In the new
Internet economy, high school dropouts who don’t speak English will make
the least and get the worst jobs. All Judge Cardenas wanted to do was
point this out to his fellow citizens. And for that, he was forced off
the bench.

My friends, it is time to call a spade a spade. If you want to live
in Mexico, you better learn Spanish. If you want to live in France, you
better learn French. The same is true for China, Japan or Korea. Oh
yes, you can “get by” in these countries without speaking the lingua
franca, but fluency in the local mother tongue makes a big difference.

Why, then, is there any discussion at all about whether people in
this country should learn to speak English? Because liberals love
playing the divide and conquer game — and some conservatives have
fallen into the xenophobic trap of English only.

I am a strong proponent of English First + legislation. Let’s make
English the official language of America and encourage everyone who
lives here to learn our common language. Notice that I said encourage.
If some people are bound and determined to deny themselves the full
benefits of being in America, that is their God-given right. However,
they don’t have a right to insist that we Americans do business in their
language. The language of America is English and that must never
change.

Why is this so important? Let me share some data with you. In the
People’s Republic of China, better known as Communist China, all public
school students must learn English. All of them. In Japan, South
Korea, Norway, Denmark and many other countries in the world, all public
school students must learn English. This is in addition to their native
language.

When I worked in Denmark, the average Danish high school senior was
fluent in Danish, English, Norwegian or Swedish and could get by in
German or French. The average American high school senior, on the other
hand, wasn’t even fluent in English. How long can we continue to be a
dominant economic power if we continue to support lowered standards for
our children and adults when the rest of the world is raising theirs?

Why are these countries mandating English? Because of the Internet.
We all know the Internet revolution is changing the world economy. What
you may not know is that the language of the Internet and computer
programming is English — that’s right, English. To be blunt, you can’t
fully participate in the Internet revolution unless you learn English,
no matter where you live.

Isn’t it ironic that in America, the largest English-speaking country
in the world, there is a debate about whether English should be first?

What, by the way, is the + about? It’s about all Americans learning a
second language.

Besides making English our official language, I want to encourage
every school district in America to mandate that its students become
fluent in a second language. In my neck of the woods, it should be
Spanish. In other parts of America, French, Chinese or Russian might
make more sense.

I don’t care what the second language is, but I do care that becoming
bilingual becomes part of our minimum expectations for high school
seniors. Otherwise, we will live to see a time when monolingual
Americans can’t compete.

Some will say that voice recognition and simultaneous translation
software will make learning a foreign language obsolete in a few years.
While it is true that we will soon have devices that can translate
English into any other language, these devices will not teach the
listener the nuances you pick up by learning another culture as you
learn their language. And we all know that the little things make life
so interesting. That’s why English must be first for everyone in
America and every American must learn a second language.

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