Monday, November 19, 2007

Diversity at the expense of Unity

Our country has been known for diversity. In fact, immigrants built this country. Many different nationalities live here. Each have come here in order to start a new life in a new country.

We are a nation whose language is English. Most immigrants who speak a different language have learned the English language in order to be able to converse with English speaking people and to carry on business here. But, the precept of having a national language has almost been lost within the halls of Congress. And, if this happens, many small businesses that require employees to speak English on the job will be affected. The Salvation Army is one of those businesses.

Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee had tried to pass an amendment that would shield businesses from being sued by the Federal Government for requiring their employees to speak English on the job. It met with opposition by Rep. Charles Gonzales from Texas, who is a hispanic.

"If it is not relevant, it is discriminatory, it is gratuitous, it is a subterfuge to discriminate against people based on national origin," says Rep. Charles Gonzalez of Texas, one of several Hispanic Democrats in the House who threatened to block Ms. Pelosi's attempts to curtail the Alternative Minimum Tax unless she killed the Alexander amendment.

It stands to reason that one would want their employees to speak a language that was understood by everyone. And, to me, if I were going to another country to live and the main language was not English, then I feel I would have to learn the language spoken there. But, apparently that is not the case now in America. Those coming here seem to want to be able to speak their language and some want to make it a crime for businesses to have the right to require our language to be spoken on site.

The Hispanic Caucus finally agreed to let the tax bill go forward if Nancy Pelosi agreed to extract Sen. Alexander’s English-only protection amendment from it. "There ain't going to be a bill" with the Alexander language, Mr. Baca has told reporters.

Mr. Baca was having none of it. "You see this on the [voting] board?," he yelled back. "This is against me. This is against me personally." Luckily for Democrats, C-Span's microphones did not pick up the exchange. But it was audible to reporters in the press gallery. They also heard Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois say that English-only efforts were symbolic of "bigotry and prejudice" against those who speak other languages.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Salvation Army because of their requirement that English be spoken on the job. The requirements were clearly posted and employees were given a year to learn the language. That sounds fair to me, but apparently the EEOC didn’t think it was right for them to require everyone to speak the same language.

Mr. Alexander says his battle is about far more than what language is spoken on a shop floor. "The EEOC actions turn diversity, our greatest strength, against the interests of our common future as Americans," he told me.

Diversity is a way of life. But unity is being sacrificed in order to appease one group. Public schools were started to teach immigrants the 3 R’s and what it means to be an American. This was done in hopes the children would go home and teach their parents the principles of the Declaration and Constitution that unite us all. Now, with the EEOC coming against the English language being required in a particular business, diversity as well as unity is under attack.

Mr. Alexander says that noble effort is in danger of being undermined: "We have spent the last 40 years in our country celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."

Linked at Conservative Cat

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