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March 8, 2012

Official English: The Bad and The Good

Joan Marie Aquilino

I’ve given a lot of thought to the recent passage of an ordinance making English as the official language of Frederick County. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it at first, but I knew my gut was telling me I also wasn’t against it, either.


I listened to all two dozen opponents who spoke against it during the Board of County Commissioners public hearing, and I tried to see things from their vantage point; but I just couldn’t figure out how or why they were so bitter. Their arguments didn’t seem to bolster their statements as to why they thought we shouldn’t have a single language as our official language. Nothing in the law said other languages couldn’t be spoken, nor did it say anything about not helping those who hadn’t learned our language as yet.


One woman spoke about how she worked to learn French so she could speak in another country where her work sent her, and how kind people were to help her.


Okay, that’s wonderful, so why wouldn’t you want the same from those coming to our country?


Another spoke about how we should embrace others. Okay, I get that too; but why embrace others to the exclusion of us? Why not embrace by teaching them the pride we have in our own language in our country?


Still others claimed they were not being listened to and the ordinance should be forgotten and shutdown. Well, a dozen or two showing their displeasure at what the commissioners were proposing don’t speak for all the tens of thousands who didn’t object.


This county, this state, and our beloved county, is our home. We should be so very proud of them all. I will be the first to admit we have our problems; we have laws that are outdated and deter rather than encourage. Our immigrations laws are counterproductive, but they are our laws and should be followed. Americans are expected to follow them as well as the laws of the other countries we visit, why shouldn’t we expect and require the same of those visiting our country?


I’ve learned many of my lessons from my own children and look at life through their eyes more often than not. What I learned from my daughter is that the places she’s visited around the world that make her the happiest – the places she wants to visit again – are the ones where the people show the most pride in their land and their heritage. It doesn’t matter the socio-economic level of the county, it’s the people and their pride in themselves and their country.


Of course, that makes perfect sense, but then we come to America and the pride that made us so great is now not politically correct and we are being forced to watered down, dilute and, at times, completely push aside the things that make us us and make us special. We make our own people uncomfortable and unwelcome in our overzealous politically correct fashion of putting all others first. The minority of Americans that foster these practices are but a minority speaking loudly.


So, with all that in mind I think our best course of action is to first show pride in ourselves, our language, our songs, our flags, and our people. Once that is accomplished we can then embrace those who want to become part of our culture.


I’m very proud of my county, blemishes and all, and I want only to make us better and having an official language is a good first step. I want others to know it’s important to us and we would like them to also learn our language. During the process of their learning English, we’ll be patient and help them learn. We need to show those who embrace us and our ways that we will honor them in their efforts.


I’m an American first, but I also want to share my part of the world with others and show them why I’m so very proud of my country, state and county. My own family came here from Italy to be Americans, not Italians visiting America. They assimilated to the very best of their ability. My language is English, not Italian.


Instead of trying to dilute America, why don’t we use our energy and efforts to fix what is wrong with us, fix our immigration laws to make it easier to run the gauntlet of laws legally? Instead of using your energy fostering bitterness and hateful retorts all the while resisting showing your pride of county, why not use that energy to fix the rules and laws that make becoming a part of America so difficult. Have a positive effect on those around you instead of wasting your energy being hateful and not proud of your own county.


Take that anger and turn it into something useful and productive. Volunteer to teach English instead of expecting the government and others to do what you only want to complain about. Become a survivor, not a victim and help others to do the same. Set a positive example and others will follow. Stay bitter and angry and you’ll eventually be ignored. It’s your choice.


Are you American first? If not please don’t let the plane hatch hit you on the way out. There will be plenty of immigrants who want to take your place and become part of American pride.


. . . . .'til next time . . .


As always, I’d love to hear from you; so, let me know what’s on your mind by emailing, or contacting me directly


“Just Joan” saying be safe, and “don’t believe everything you think.”


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