Bilingual documents in
Arizona and the United States are unfair, discriminatory and harmful to
An English only requirement will correct this dreadful situation.
The problem is that bilingual documents are printed in English and only
Spanish. But, as English-only opponents point out, we are a nation of
immigrants. We have many immigrant groups in Arizona and the United
States, in sizable numbers.
To be fair and non-discriminating, we would have to print bilingual
documents in all non-English immigrant languages. Why don't we? Why is
the bilingual requirement for Spanish only? Reasonable answers to these
questions are impossible, but English-only opponents are welcome to try.
The inescapable dilemma is this: Just what are we saying by having
bilingual documents in Spanish? Are we saying that Hispanics need
bilingual documents because they are not intelligent enough to learn
English? If so, that is racist, condescending, and paternalistic no
matter how it is spun.
Are we saying that all immigrant groups need bilingual documents, but
only Hispanics deserve them? In that case, we are discriminating against
all other immigrant groups, no matter how it is framed.
The cold reality is this: English/Spanish bilingual documents either
discriminate against Hispanics, or discriminate for Hispanics, and
discriminate against all other non-English speaking immigrant groups.
There is simply no way around this fact. An English only policy is the
The tragic irony is that Spanish/English dual-language documents
severely damage Hispanics in this country. The proof is the Hispanics'
abysmal school dropout rate, their limited academic achievement, their
minuscule number seeking higher education and their low incidence of
economic success. These failures result directly from not learning
Why don't Hispanics learn fluent English? It is because they don't have
to. The Spanish documents provide a debilitating crutch that enable
Hispanics to marginally get by. Sadly, marginal is a nice word for
failing, and people who don't learn English will spend a lifetime in
Contrast the Hispanics' large-scale failings with the unrivaled success
of other non-English speaking immigrant groups. These groups thrive and
excel here, especially Asians. A few years after arrival, most Asians
speak fluent English. Immigrant Asians made up 90 percent of the
incoming freshman classes at our elite universities until restrictive
quotas limited their composition to 40 percent. Obviously, the
non-English speaking groups' language and educational successes have
translated into unparalleled economic success.
Why do other non-English speaking immigrants learn English so quickly?
The answer is: They have to. There is no dual language document crutch
to impede their progress. These groups are benevolently coerced to do
the one thing that ensures they can be successful. Why don't we show
this same benevolence to Hispanics?
The evidence is unassailable, and the verdict has long since been
decided. Dual language documents relegate Hispanic immigrants to a life
of poverty and failure.
Fred Pinkney is a former Air Force health care
administrator. He and his wife moved to Gilbert in 1997. The views
expressed are those of the author.