Asked about Schaefer's commentary, and what an arctic blast of fresh air it was, Gov. Ehrlich provided full-throated support. "I reject the idea of multiculturalism," Ehrlich told WBAL host Ron Smith. "Once you get into this multicultural crap, this bunk that some folks are teaching in our college campuses and other places, you run into a problem. With respect to this culture, English is the language."
And it is under increasing assault. In the classroom. At the ATM machine. And on the phone (pet peeve: "For English, please press '1'"). The difference between past and present immigration experience is the existence of a defiant anti-assimilationist lobby that encourages legal and illegal aliens to resist adapting to the American way of life.
Look at our voting booths, where local and state election officials across the country are being forced to provide foreign-language ballots, bilingual poll workers and voting materials to non-English-speaking people. In March, the Bush administration ordered Harris County, Texas, to provide all voter registration and election information and supplies, including the voting machine ballot, in Vietnamese as well as English and Spanish. So absurd is the drive to protect the rights of "minority-language citizens" that the little town of Briny Breezes, Fla., was required to publish election notices in Spanish -- even though everyone there speaks English.
The language-Balkanizers naturally attack their opponents as racists and immigrant-haters. Jorge Ribas, a Hispanic activist, likened Gov. Ehrlich to Adolf Hitler and Gov. George Wallace. Most politicians would crumple in fear and start singing "Kumbaya." But both Ehrlich and Schaefer have refused to retract their remarks. Befuddled professors and reporters view the controversy as some kind of calculated political maneuver by Ehrlich, instead of a rare outbreak of common sense.
We could use more of it. Plainspoken English is an effective antidote to muddled multiculturalism.