One would think that a presidential candidate who has no military service, who survived a public controversy about attending a church for 20 years where the pastor preached "hate America," plus a flap about his refusal to wear an American Flag pin, would bend over backwards to showcase his patriotism. But Barack Obama has just given his critics another reason to question his support of American identity.
Obama, the Democratic junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, said, "Understand this: Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English ... you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish." But who "needs to make sure"? Parents? Public schools? Government nannies? Expanding on this theme, Obama added, "You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual... It's embarrassing ... when Europeans come over here, they all speak English ... And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say is Merci beaucoup."
Embarrassed? We surely don't want a president representing our nation in foreign travels who is embarrassed about our country. We want a president who is proud to stand up for America, our culture, our language, our laws and our customs.
Most Americans look upon the English language as the No. 1 factor that defines our national identity: "e pluribus unum," one nation out of many peoples. We want English to be our national, official language, spoken by all who call themselves Americans.
The Zogby Poll reports that 83 percent of Americans favor legislation to make English our official language. Thirty states have designated English as the official language of their states, and 10 more states are considering such legislation.
Obama is pandering to Hispanic voters by suggesting that the rest of us have a duty to speak Spanish. Most Americans not only don't want to speak Spanish, we are annoyed by voices on the telephone telling us to "Press 1 (or sometimes 2) for English," and we are outraged at the thought that a president would try to impose a Spanish obligation on us.
Only 26 percent of Americans, according to a Rasmussen survey, believe that every American should be able to speak two languages. Even that low number would probably nosedive if confronted with the notion that the government might enforce bilingualism on us.
Why should that second language be Spanish? The United States today has immigrants who speak over 200 different languages. Should the Asian immigrants be forced to learn Spanish as well as English?
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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