He’s right. But I fear almost everybody who agrees with him is wrong.
Tim James is the Republican candidate for governor of Alabama. In a ringing proclamation that quickly drew half a million hits on YouTube, he denounced Alabama’s policy of giving driver’s license exams in 12 languages. James said, “This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it!”
Why play the race card – or the ethnic card or the nationalistic card – when the real ace is hidden right there in your hand? James has my applause and support, but we can do it nicely with no frowns or clenched fists or “Take that!” in our attitude. The argument for making English supreme whenever possible is undeniable, no matter how loudly the left tries to deny it.
There was an old vaudeville skit that had your great-grandparents howling. A drunk was sitting on the sidewalk leaning against a building. “Run along, buddy,” said the cop. “I can’t,” replied the drunk. “I said run along!” repeated the cop. “I can’t, officer,” repeated the drunk. “What do you mean, you can’t?” roared the cop. “If I leave,” said the drunk, “the building will fall down.” Quite angry now, the policeman said, “Get up now or I’ll run you in.” And the drunk got up. And the building fell down.
The English language is the only glue holding America together.
Strong? Startling? Yes, and also true. People in Alaska care about people in Florida. If there were a terrible hurricane in Key West, that would lead the news in Alaska. Now put that American map on top of Europe. If there were a terrible earthquake in Turkey, the people in Norway, being quite decent people, wouldn’t say, “Don’t bother me with that!” But there wouldn’t be that same sense of “our people.” You’ve got six major languages and 18 minor ones separating Norway from Turkey. Among America’s major blessings is one unifying language – a blessing compounded by the happy fact that our particular language is also the universally acknowledged “international” language.
Those who would destroy America could do no better service to their goal than balkanizing America into a patchwork quilt of different languages. And they’re doing a great job. They’ve succeeded in convincing too many Americans that you’re somehow a hater, at least a little, with all that bluster about English. They cheer their success at leading well-meaning Americans to suppose that if so-called “English Only” legislation is passed, women on assembly lines will be dragged away in handcuffs if they’re overheard speaking Spanish with one another. Try explaining to the hard-left that the law intends no such thing, that we’re talking strictly about conducting public affairs in one consensus language only. Maria can continue to talk to Linda in Spanish, Hans to Fritz in German, Darko to Srechko in Serbian.
The enemies of a united America have succeeded in convincing innocent Americans that whosoever calls for making English our “official language” may as well have a swastika on his forehead and business card. Mexico has an official language. It’s Spanish. Estonia has an official language. It’s Estonian. An “official language” means, “Speak whatever language you please, but our official business will be in our official language.” Alabama, by the way, is lucky. They have driver’s license exams in only 12 languages. I’ve heard that in Los Angeles you can choose from among 42 different languages! We’ve already had major traffic accidents because licensed drivers in America don’t know what “Merge” means.
The bad guys win when we lose it and show our irritation at things like “The Star Spangled Banner” in Spanish. I say cool it! What’s important is to enthrone and defend English as paramount. No hatred or xenophobia is necessary, nor helpful.
We’re winning some important battles along the way. The so-called “bilingual education” programs have been pretty much revealed as employment scams for teachers who don’t speak English too well; programs that wind up making the kids illiterate in two languages. Also, the children of all immigrants are growing up speaking native, un-accented American English. The left is as powerless to stop that as they are to turn off the profit motive.
Those who say, “Let a hundred languages bloom!” think they’re ablaze with brotherhood. They’re ablaze with nothing of the kind. A country with one unifying language that lets itself slip away to two or more is ablaze with nothing but poor housekeeping.
Shakespeare may have turned the English language into cultural glory. Churchill turned that language into adrenalin arousing freedom’s beleaguered and embattled forces to a civilization-saving victory. It may not seem as impressive. But English is now serving an even more important role. As glue.