“One of the great things about America is we’ve been unified by a common language. That common language, of course, is English.” This was one of King’s comments during a press conference discussing a bill that would make it so that all federal communications would be in English. This means, of course, things like voter registration forms and ballots. In an interview with the Huffington Post, he said the following:
“The argument that diversity is our strength has really never been backed up by logic,” King told The Huffington Post. “It’s unity is where our strength is. Our Founding Fathers understood that. Modern-day multiculturalists are defying that.”
The Iowa Republican called it “offensive” that anyone would say his bill has racist overtones, particularly when talking about a society “as inclusive as America.”
“They should be specific about that rather than just hurl that out there,” he said of people who make racist claims about his bill. “That divides people.
Okay, King. I’ll be specific. Saying that you must speak English to get federal resources even if you’re a citizen, is racist. Saying that our country is not founded on multiculturalism is ignorant–and racist.
During the press conference, Rep. King also said, “Our language is getting subdivided by some forces of the federal government. It is time to speak with a common voice.”
We do need to speak with a common voice, and tell Iowa Representative Steve King that this blatant disrespect of minorities in our country will not be tolerated or accepted by the American people. While the bill has little to no chance of ever becoming law, the fact that people with opinions of this sort are actually voted for in our country is a mark of the progress we need to continually make.
English-only laws, by the way, are a terrible idea. I’m a volunteer at my local library (which is entirely volunteer-ran and receives no tax money) and English-only legislation is bad for libraries, as shown in the following excerpt from Should The United States Be Multilingual?:
English-only groups have endangered the ability of libraries to continue meeting the needs of the public they serve. In some communities, English-only laws have limited the ability of government workers to communicate to customers in their native language, and many believe that libraries likewise should not provide foreign-language collections. However, libraries with foreign-language collections often draw English-learners to their buildings where they can participate in programs such as English conversation groups. Libraries must retain the ability to provide educational materials in the languages spoken by their patrons. To limit such collections to English-language materials would violate their patrons’ First Amendment rights.
English-only laws are also anti-immigration, and for a country founded on immigration, that is simply wrong. Republicans aren’t known for correctness, though, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
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