English-only plan rewrites
meaning of 'un-American'
Jan. 18, 2005
I understand the words that come out of the mouths of people like state Rep.
Russell Pearce, but I don't know what language they're speaking.
Pearce is one of several politicians in Arizona who have transformed English
into a foreign tongue by using the kind of mumbo-jumbo that's spoken in
totalitarian states. Places where politicians create laws designed only to
punish citizens who have committed no crime other than being a little different
from the people in power.
Rep. Pearce and others have introduced House Concurrent Resolution 2030, which
would allow voters to require that most government business be conducted in
English, essentially preventing cities and counties from printing such public
documents as water bills in any other language. The really important documents,
like ballots, are governed by federal law and would still be available in, say,
Spanish. The only reason to create a statewide English-only law is spite, which
my English dictionary defines as "a mean or evil feeling toward another."
"We're an English-only nation, and our records should reflect that," Pearce
said. I'd agree with him if only our records didn't reflect something entirely
differently. Near as I can tell, none of this land's native inhabitants were
speaking English when they were invaded by Europeans. Americans eventually
adopted the language of Great Britain, but it was never ours. It is the mother
tongue of a country from which we freed ourselves with the help of American
patriots who spoke French, German and other languages. At least, that's what
they taught us, in English, in grade school. Perhaps Rep. Pearce has forgotten.
Or perhaps (as we used to say in pig latin, the universal language of American
schoolkids) Rep. Pearce and those like him ailedfay istoryhay.
That also would explain why others in Arizona are promoting a proposition that
would punish people only because their sexual orientation is different from
their own. We're told that there must be a constitutional amendment keeping such
people from getting married in order to defend more-conventional marriages,
although they can't explain how the unions of people they don't know pose such a
threat. At least they can't explain it in a language that any true American
It reminds me of that curious dialect spoken by politicians who said that it was
wrong for Gov. Janet Napolitano to change the name of Squaw Peak to Piestewa
Peak. They disagreed, they said, not because they were prejudiced against native
people but because the governor didn't follow the rules. Curiously, these same
critics then attacked the National Football League for threatening to fine
quarterback Jake Plummer for wearing the number of his friend Pat Tillman on his
The league said that it agreed with honoring Tillman, a fallen solder like Lori
Piestewa, but that Plummer wasn't following the rules. Only in the
incomprehensible vernacular of politicians are there even different rules for
breaking the rules.
Likewise, only in the jargon of politics is a person's value as a citizen
determined by his or her ability to read a water bill.
Luckily for us, and for the world,
the Japanese military couldn't break the Navajo code spoken by some very brave
U.S. Marines during World War II.
Hopefully, we'll have enough Arabic speakers to see us through the dangers of
If the backers of English-only laws
can't appreciate the patriotic value of such diversity it doesn't matter what
language they claim to speak because they don't understand American.
Reach Montini at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8978