English: Let's Make it Official
Bits of Spanish and English were both audible in the crowded Statehouse rotunda Friday at the annual Hispanic Day on the Hill.
Several hundred Latino residents converged on the Capitol to hear speeches, learn about legislation and, in some cases, to remind lawmakers they're offended by a bill that would declare English as the state's official language.
Imagine this situation playing out in any another country for a moment. Picture Americans "converging" on the regional government of Auvergne, France, to remind lawmakers that a bill declaring French the official language is offensive to them. How about Americans gathering in Chihuahua, Mexico, to protest making Spanish the official language? Or perhaps voicing their displeasure at making Italian the official language in Bologna, Italy?
Ridiculous. Absurd, even.
Yet, when it's suggested that English be made the official language in Kansas, U.S.A.?
"This is about people who feel uncomfortable when they hear another language," said Rod Bonilla, Salina, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
No, Rod, it's really not. America is arguably the most welcoming country in the world when it comes to immigrants from other nations, and their cultures. No one is suggesting that Spanish -- or any other foreign language -- be banned. No one is saying that other languages should be outlawed, and those who speak them rounded up and tossed out of the country.
But this is still America, at least for now. It behooves us, as a nation, and with a distinct culture of our own, to preserve that. It doesn't mean that our culture is static and unchanging. It means that those who choose to come here legally, to seek a better life and pursue the American Dream, should assimilate and become Americans. Americans with varied cultural histories to share but, above all other things, Americans who have loyalty to THIS country and no other.
This part seems pretty basic to me.
If you came here legally and become a citizen, you get perks. Perks like access to social programs and a right to vote. Becoming a citizen is supposed to require a certain proficiency in English. If you're a citizen applying for benefits or casting your vote on election day, and you can't do it in English, there's something wrong.
Pretty darn basic.
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