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There is a profound difference between a varied immigration, in which all the groups converge in the English language, and a massive Spanish-language immigration which creates a large bloc difficult to assimilate. There are many examples of the danger which such a situation presents to the domestic peace and integrity of a country.
Unfortunately public attitudes are the result of other considerations. The Democratic Party wants more voters and the Hispanic bosses more supporters. Capitalists want an abundant and cheap labor force, even illegal. On the other hand, workers fear for their jobs, and some Americans just donīt like foreigners.
There is concern about the deeper aspects of this problem among people who, like me, are deeply interested in international affairs , and especially in Mexico, and very supportive of the study of foreign languages, especially Spanish. Unfortunately, sociologists have neglected this issue in recent decades.
There is one journal for which it is a major concern: The Social Contract, the Winter 1998-99 issue of which has just appeared. It opens with a note by the editor, Dr.Wayne Lutton, on the history of this concern, going back to Emerson in 1844.
The organization affiliated with the journal is English Language Advocates (ELA), whose chairman, Leo Sorensen, is himself an immigrant from Denmark. He recently made a trip tp Puerto Rico to discuss the issue with the leaders of the various parties. He stressed that ELA takes no position on the statehood issue except that the Enlish language must be the official one. Multicultiralism is used to evade the issue.
ELAīs president, Robert Park, has been fighting a ruling of the Arizona Supreme Court that a law making English the official language of the state was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the first amendment on freedom of speech. The governor and the attorney general refused to appeal the ruling, so the U.S. Supreme Court refused to issue a writ certiorari. The Supreme Court is concerned with the constitution, which says nothing on the language issue. Its members have little knowledge of or interest in the problem. It will not go away.
Ronald Hilton - 04/09/99