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As Long as We Remember...

June 19, 2015

Assimilation not Division

Joe Charlebois

English is the official language of Frederick County, Maryland. Frederick County Council Member Jessica Fitzwater and co-sponsor Council Vice President M.C. Keegan-Ayer are looking to over-turn the 2012 ordinance based on perceptions.

If there are perceptions that Frederick is unwelcoming, it is due to deliberate misinformation about the ordinance. The Washington Post’s interpretation of the 2012 ordinance put it simply. “Official county documents and business will be written and conducted in English, but matters of public safety can still be conducted in other languages.”

What is the ordinance and why is there an attempt to overturn the previous commission’s actions in implementing it?

The ordinance was put in place by the last and final Board of County Commissioners just over three years ago. In 2012 in a 4 to 1 vote, the commissioners formalized and put into law what up until then was a non-binding resolution that passed in 2008.

The ordinance as currently written states: “The use of a common language removes barriers of misunderstanding and helps to unify the people of Frederick County, the state and the United States, and helps to enable the full economic and civic participation of all its citizens, regardless of national origin, creed, race or other characteristics, and thus a compelling governmental interest exists in promoting, preserving and strengthening the use of the English language.” – Frederick County Government Press Release February 22, 2012.

Further, in the 2012 release from Public Information Officer Robin Santangelo, the issue of prohibiting use of other languages is addressed. “The commissioners emphasized that establishing English as the official language does not mean “English only.” The ordinance would allow the county to publish advisories using other languages when there is a need to do so, such as for the protection of public health and safety, assuring equality before the law, promoting tourism, teaching foreign languages, law enforcement, and other legitimate situations.”

Then, why should the county or any governmental entity establish an official language? Isn’t it divisive or xenophobic?

On the contrary, it is the residents or politicians of a county, state or country which promote the use of several languages that are themselves divisive and exclusive. They are the ones – knowingly or not – contributing to the creation of a perpetual underclass.

Common language is an equalizer. In the colonies of America, English was the predominant language spoken. As we became a nation, English eventually became the primary language spoken in former French and Spanish speaking territories as well.

Then in the great migration periods of the 19th and 20th centuries, the United States received an influx of millions of non-English speaking immigrants. Within a few generations many of those immigrants were standing side-by-side defending liberty against tyrants in two world wars. They may have had parents and grandparents with entirely different cultures, but they had a mutual cultural bond as Americans in a great part because they shared a common language – English.

For those promoting the use of native tongues as a primary language only cripples those they seek to help. Those in powerful positions both economically and politically knowingly allow for an overwhelming import of immigrants - specifically illegal – to come across our borders without the ability to write, read or even understand the English language. They are not concerned about their ability to learn English. Their goal is keeping immigrants uneducated and unable to communicate freely, thus assuring that they remain a permanent underclass dependent upon those in power to provide a paycheck or lobby for social benefits.

English is a unifying form of communication throughout the world. Learning and encouraging the use of English allows for an immigrant to the United States to more quickly assimilate and become successful.

The Frederick County Council should not seek to overturn the previous board’s ordinance. There is nothing that is discriminatory in the text of the ordinance, and it is a common sense approach to the day-to-day operations of local government.

When a culture becomes too diverse and doesn’t allow or encourage assimilation, it will lose its identity. This isn’t to say that our great melting pot shouldn’t respect our ancestral traditions or language, we should. But America has its own culture and those lucky enough to be born here live within it; those who have come here have done so because of it.

America can’t afford to lose its identity. If it does, it ceases to exist.


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