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Advertise on the Tentacle

July 30, 2015

English, Please

Patricia A. Kelly

On August 18, the Frederick County Council will vote on whether to repeal the law proclaiming Frederick County, Maryland’s official language as English.

This change was proposed by Jessica Fitzwater, a young Democratic schoolteacher, who has impressed me as a lovely, idealistic woman who has generously committed herself to public service. I’m sure she means well.

Current talk among those in favor of the change suggests that the present law is discriminatory and unwelcoming to people of different ethnicities. They say it will interfere with people’s ability to report crimes and emergencies, as well as make them feel unwelcome in our community.

Others, those who equate illegal with legal immigration and feel that our country and our resources are being overrun, want to completely close our borders to everyone.

Both are wrong. Many countries have national languages, and English has been declared the official language of more than 50, as well as many forward-thinking local governments here in the United States. Our federal leaders lack the courage to do so.

An ordinance like this protects government from the necessity of providing documents in multiple languages, saving taxpayers much in hard-earned money spent on this ridiculousness. It does not interfere at all with welcoming people of different ethnicities, or prevent universal telephone translation, or ESL classes.

It’s nonsensical to believe that people can be really informed voters without command of English, multiple language ballots notwithstanding. If you can’t understand the talk of those around you, or newspapers or television in English, how can you expect to be really informed?

Instead of repealing our county ordinance, we should insist it be passed at the federal level, and that our immigration laws be followed – or changed.

Legal immigration is the foundation of our country. Every one of us, who is not Native American, is descended from an immigrant.

Our early immigration policies led to destruction of the Native American people, with disease, theft of land and slaughter; but, in spite of that horror, our country rose to greatness, thanks to immigration. To give our predecessors their due, they didn’t know how smallpox was spread, but how I wish they had noticed that the native people looked just like them, except for their color.

It’s past time to create laws that make sense, and follow them.

Why have we come up with the ridiculous notion that English as the official language of our government is discriminatory? Earlier immigrants were expected to learn English and assimilate. It’s required now for citizenship, along with an oath of allegiance to our country, which is as it should be.

One other idea, proposed many times in history by such as Theodore Roosevelt and Barbara Jordan’s commission on immigration formed by President Bill Clinton, strongly recommended it. Immediate family, and those who can contribute should get priority, not other relatives. If sensible policy works for Australia and New Zealand, it could work for us.

Long term illegal residents who contribute to society by supporting themselves and following our country’s laws might be allowed to stay as guest, or expatriate workers. They could register, get I.D.’s, and get into line for legal immigration and citizenship, behind those already signed up. Priority for immigrants should be given to those with skills, English language ability and vigor, who can make a contribution to our society.

Being born here should confer citizenship only on those whose parents are citizens. That would save a lot of pregnant women the swim across the Rio Grande.

The current anti-assimilation movement could do irreparable harm to our country. It’s fine to retain your Amish or Hasidic or Sikh culture, except that the law should forbid covering your face if you’re not actually welding or skiing in freezing weather, as a matter of security. You should, however, be required to function in the English language and swear allegiance to the United States, if you wish to live here.

The U.S. was known historically as a melting pot of people of many cultures. The term mosaic is used more now, referring to people retaining their own cultures. A mixture of both is the right choice.

Please contact the County Council [301-600-1100] before August 18, and try to talk some sense into them! They’re at Winchester Hall on East Church Street. You would be taking a stand for unity.


Tony Chmelik – 301-600-1034

Kirby Delauter – 301-600-1034

Jerry Donald – 301-600-2336

Jessica Fitzwater – 301-600-2336

MC Keegin-Ayer – 301-600-2336

Bud Otis – 301-600-1101

Billy Shreve -301-600-1034

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