Bill of Non-Rights

A family member of mine sent me one of those ultra-patriotic/conservative mail forwards that was, essentially, a “Bill of Non-Rights” that included a bunch of “get off your lazy ass and get a job” language and two things, in particular, I find laughable.

This is an English speaking country. We don’t care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from!

I submit that this country, from the very beginning, was multi-lingual and multi-national. I know for a fact that my ancestors didn’t speak English when they arrived, rather they spoke German and French. America is not, nor has it ever been an English-only speaking country. In fact, about 28 million Americans over the age of 5 speak Spanish at home. There’s nothing wrong with being bilingual. In fact, that’s pretty cool if you ask me.

You do not have the right to change our country’s history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!

Where to start? How about with the fact that “In God We Trust” wasn’t added to coins in America until the Civil War. Also, there’s that pesky fact that “One nation … under God” wasn’t added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954.

Now, please, let’s stop with the preposterous assertions that we’ve always been an English-only Christian nation. The truth is we’ve always been a multilingual multicolored nation and it’s only getting moreso. California, for instance, became the first state in the union in 2000 to be a minority-majority population (meaning there’s more of “them” than “us” if that’s how you think).

Maybe a better solution is to follow the Bill of Rights as they are, which guarantee the right to speak any language you want and practice any religion you want. And, guess what, it’s actually been like that from the beginning.

4 thoughts on “Bill of Non-Rights

  1. When you get all of your news and opinions from right-wing talk radio, you tend to be narrow-minded in your views of the world and just about everything else outside your immediate society/culture/environment.

    Sadly, it is a lot easier to get people to repeat an opinion than to ask them to think through the issue themselves and form their own opinion.

    This is why the Christian right has so much influence in today’s poorly-educated society. This is why FOX news has such a powerful infuence on today’s narrow-minded couch-potatoes.

    It is not just America that has this problem. It is a defect in the human condition. We are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors. Might as well get used to it.

    Last Note: I fully expect to soon see Digg clones that cater to the large niche groups like the Christian right, the Liberals/Tree-Huggers, etc. just like today’s Digg.com has sich a technology-focused bent.

  2. In general I agree with what you’re saying, but there is some overlap between what you’re saying and what the initial email rant said.

    QUOTE: This is an English speaking country. We don’t care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from!

    JOE: There’s nothing wrong with being bilingual. In fact, that’s pretty cool if you ask me.

    I agree with both sentiments (well, not the ‘go back’ part) but the English speaking country part. You’re right, there’s nothing wrong with being BILINGUAL. So what if your ancestors came here and didn’t speak English? They obviously learned enough to get by, and their kids learned it enough to prosper. BTW, the statement about 28 million people speaking Spanish at home doesn’t address being bilingual – perhaps something in the article does, but that statement alone doesn’t imply they are bilingual.

    Many people do object to people coming here yet not bothering to learn the language. My brother is teaching an advanced ESL course, and is frustrated by some people not attending regularly, not bothering to do homework, etc.

    If you’re here, make an effort to learn English. People have the freedom to speak any language they want on their own, in private situations. Insisting that our governments provide services in multiple languages is not a good idea. Besides the practical burden this places on governments, there’s a world of nuance and subtleties that play out in various dialects that cause enough confusion between people all speaking one language. Accommodating multiple languages in official capacities is opening a huge can of worms.

  3. I didn’t say that we should provide services in multiple languages, but I don’t think we should enforce people learn a specific language to any degree of certainty. What’s next? Spelling and grammar requirements for citizenship?

  4. Yes, you didn’t say that. You’re correct. I was more reacting to the next step in that thinking, and I’ve heard people here call/argue for that (govt services in non-English languages) Actually there is a perfunctory English comprehension test you have to take for citizenship, but it’s pretty lame, and doesn’t really demonstrate you have any even basic command of English beyond parroting a few phrases. My wife took the citizenship test last year (as did a friend recently) and the English ‘test’ was laughable, but still there.

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