By Rose Pedenko
My father passed away in December of 2007 at the ripe old age of 104, just two months shy of his 105th birthday. To the last year of his life, he swore thatVick’s VapoRub was a cure-all for everything that ailed him. Who am I to argue, after all, he died of old age.
It got me to thinking that the English language was very much like Vick’s VapoRub in our family and that it is likely the answer to much of what ailsAmerica today.
A host of problems stem from an inability or lack of will by immigrants to grasp the basics of our national language. “English-Only” legislation is perpetually thwarted by liberals, educators, and politicians to advance their respective misguided agendas—and we see the impact of the dismal results on our children. Bi-lingual education in our schools has been an unmitigated failure. In less than 50 years, it also has become not only absurd but politically incorrect to be an English-Only adherent or proponent.
The English language is the fundamental tool we use to read and thus understand the world around us. It allows us to thrive and succeed in this country -- unhampered by the limitations imposed by tyrannical governments or radical religions on its citizens around the world. In America, thus far, we have been free to choose our own paths to self-actualization.
Before any members of the PC crowd get huffy, my parents were legal non-English speaking immigrants from Mexico. Total immersion into this English speaking culture was a necessity prior to the late 1960s, not an option. There were no crutches to impede our progress like “Press 1 for Spanish.” It was a sink or swim assimilation. Becoming an American occurred almost effortlessly, not because we had no other choice, but, more importantly, because we wanted to be Americans.
We spoke Spanish at home to be understood by our parents, and in turn, guided them through the initial language hurdles. It was both a privilege and a test of their own determination to become American citizens, particularly at a time when citizenship classes and exams were not offered in their native language. And I never once heard them complain about an unfair cultural challenge, or that the government should make it easier for them.
Fluency in both cultures became seamless, and apple-pie-laden patriotism was our dessert.
Today, many on the left laugh derisively over that little understood and antiquated fervor to become an integral part of the American fabric which was so inextricably woven into our flag 232 years ago.
I’m not embarrassed nor hindered in this fervor for all things American by the likes of Bill Maher or David Letterman. It is neither pedestrian nor witless to believe in the principles that made this country great.
My parents’ children grew up knowing they are honest to goodness red-blooded Americans. There was no “Mexican-American” moniker to identify or categorize us -- we knew who we were and are, and wear it with pride. Our unaccented English paved the way into a society where the only person to blame for holding you back was yourself. You choose success over failure, and it is not guaranteed or handed to you. And that is the precious freedom held most dear by legal immigrants.
This then begs the question, do we, by and large, create the prejudices that feed on themselves as a way to cope -- now that diversity has been shoved down our throats? When we reject what it means to be an American, it creates baggage that should have been left at the border. Today, immigrants have been taught they can have the best of both worlds. They can retain their culture (which is the excess baggage) while taking advantage of U.S.freedoms and benefits without paying for it. What remains are cross-cultural expectations that will never be realized because they no longer fully identify with either country.
So many of the cultural problems we face can be traced to this forced acceptance of diversity, and a lack of language skills which impedes progress. PC guilt, inculcated by do-gooder academics, has led to anger arising from lawbreakers earning rewards they would not otherwise be entitled to. It made this week’s Supreme Court reversal of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s prior ruling very sweet indeed.
One language is the glue that produces unity, and unity in a people breeds strength. Right now, unity and strength are sadly lacking in this country. Our political parties are divided and our nation has been rendered weak by appeasement. America is turning into a Tower of Babel by the left’s efforts to reach their Utopian ideal.
The day we can all celebrate American holidays and traditions together, and bring those exotic ancestral spices to the table for the purpose of conversation, will be the day divisiveness takes a back seat to what drives this country forward--English.
Happy Independence Day.