Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said on the Senate floor last week that an amendment to make English the national language of the United States was "mean-spirited," "divisive" and worse.
"I really believe this amendment is racist," said Reid. "I think it is directed basically to people who speak Spanish."
Were you willing to assume that Reid sincerely meant these words, and that he leveled an accusation of racism in the world's greatest deliberative body only after he had done some deliberating himself, you would nonetheless need to fill in the blanks of his elliptical logic.
If he truly believes the English-language amendment was "racist," Reid must have determined that: 1) the language a person speaks is determined by his race, 2) there is a Spanish-speaking race and 3) that this amendment was "directed" at the Spanish-speaking race in order to harm it.
Someone might have liberated Reid from his core delusion by, for example, asking him whether he knew which language the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. used when he wrote "A Letter From the Birmingham Jail," one of the most powerful indictments of racism ever written.
The answer, of course, is English -- the same language used for the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Emancipation Proclamation.
But at least some witnesses to Reid's ludicrous accusation were instantly appalled by its vicious vacuity. According to a report in The Washington Times, there was a "stir of whispers in the Senate chamber and gallery" after Reid made the accusation. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who sponsored the amendment (and who, incidentally, happens to speak Spanish as well as English) was, according to the Times, "clearly offended" by it. An aide handed Reid a note, and Reid promptly said: "Even though I believe this amendment is unfair, I don't in any way suggest that Jim Inhofe is a racist. I just believe that this amendment has, with some people, that connotation -- not that he is a racist, but that the amendment is."
Moments later, Reid returned to hurling insupportable and inflammatory accusations at Inhofe's amendment. "It is un-American," he said. "This is divisive, it is mean-spirited."
In fact, the amendment is just the opposite. It is profoundly American, unifying and big-hearted. It aims at fully assimilating immigrants into our national community, no matter where they came from or what their native tongue.