I find this movement toward promoting nationalism, in flag burning amendments, laws making English our official language, and even some arguments regarding immigration reform, not well thought out and certainly not taking into account the consequences of such moves. It would be great if we could all be proud of being Americans, but when we pass laws that restrict important information from those who don’t speak English, attempt to make national pride mandatory and political protest a criminal offense, it becomes difficult to know what we should be proud of exactly.
Beyond the fact that such laws run contrary to our history as a nation of immigrants with guaranteed freedoms of protest and speech, sometimes the unintended consequences are far worse that a lack of national pride.
I found this story in Utah a perfect example of how these silly laws can have very serious negative repercussions. Passing a law 2000 that made English the official language of the state of Utah may have seemed innocuous at the time (at least to those pushing it), but now that the Governor of Utah has decided, under pressure, to shut down a web site that provides information about health services, taxes, state licenses and the like in Spanish, there are real people affected in very tangible ways.
It’s not so much that the information available on the web site is not available elsewhere or that critical health and safety information is not being provided to the Spanish speaking community at all, but it does create a divisive atmosphere and makes it even more difficult for those already at a disadvantage because they have not yet learned English to become a part of the community. Is promoting nationalism really worth all that? Rather than proclaiming English as the official language, we should be providing more opportunities for immigrants to learn English. Lending a helping hand and making it easier, rather than harder, for immigrants to assimilate into our society is a far more effective way to instill national pride, in both immigrants and those born here. English as the official language and flag burning amendments won’t strengthen our country, they only encourage false pride. And we all know what that precedes don’t we?