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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

'Have To' and 'Should'

OK, I fully admit to being in a terrible mood when I wrote the last post. Way it goes, huh? "When crabby, don't blog". But the kernel of my irritation with the issue I flagged up from reading the article in question was, I think, fair, even if my wording was more ranting than warranted.

America offers millions of people the chance to come here and improve their lives. For some people coming here is a disaster, but for most America offers opportunities, or at least securities, that aren't available at home. In return I don't think it is unreasonable to ask those who come here to learn our language (English may not be the official language, but it has clearly played a singularly important role in integrating people into American life over the centuries, whether their last names were Helms, Conte, Chang, Ahmed, Martinez, Goldberg, etc etc etc). They don't have to if they don't want to, as we can't really boot people out for not speaking English, but they should. If someone is only briefly here, is only passing through for a few years, then it's no big deal, but if you are here to settle permanently, then really it is disrespectful to the native-born population who have allowed you the opportunity to build a new life not to learn their language. This is not just for America, but for anywhere, really. If you are settling permanently in a new country, you should at least make a fist of learning the local tongue, out of respect for your hosts.

There is a difference here between have and should. I don't think that America, or any other English-speaking nation for that matter, should restrict immigration rights only to those who demonstrate English proficiency upon arrival (which would in any case be impossible to enforce, considering the chaos on the southern border), but I do think it is not unreasonable to ask those who do come here to learn English.

|| RPH || 6:32 PM || |