Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thoughts on the melting pot concept

Fair warning: I suspect this post will be offensive to many PC/liberal type people. If you're one of those people, feel free to skip this post; you're probably not rational enough to understand the debate, much less the position I have. Moving on...

I think English should be the official language of the United States. I don't think this only because I speak only English, although I admit that the more standardized on English the world becomes, the slightly better it will be for me personally. No, the primary reason I hold this opinion is because it makes it possible for everyone to communicate with each other, which is one of the primary barriers to understanding, acceptance, interaction, and integration.

... ok, that got kinda mushy sounding. Seriously, though, America is supposed to be a melting pot of cultures and ideas, a place where people of different backgrounds and beliefs can come together and make a better society by taking the good ideas and rejecting the bad ones. It's the ultimate social experiment in genetic engineering at a societal level, and the only thing which makes it work is if the societal organism can fuse its DNA.

In my opinion, all government business should be in English; it would save money, provide a common base, and encourage people coming to the US to adopt to our culture. All schools should teach in English, and not make excuses or allowances for children who do not speak the language of the country they are growing up in. Obviously there can/would be adult schools conducted in other languages teaching English, especially to immigrants, but children should not be culturally isolated from the country which they will need to integrate with to be prosperous, or disadvantaged by being kept segregated by language.

It's more than that, though. I also think all public store-fronts, signs, and business communication should be written and conducted in English. Right now, our larger cities have cultural divisions, separate areas striving to limit communication with non-members, to isolate themselves, to carve out a niche of exclusivity at the expense of community. Part of the reason there's virtually no crime in small towns in America is that when everyone knows each other, and everyone talks with each other, you get a community, which works together, instead of against each cultural division. By encouraging these divides and allowing them to prosper, America is sowing the seeds of civil discord, to the detriment of the people.

Perhaps it's intentional; it's possible that the politicians have nurtured the divisions, to keep the people fighting with each other, and limit the possibility of them rising up, and defying their puppeteers. Or perhaps, as I suspect, it's a happy coincidence for the oppressors that their peons have organized into fractured groups, and all the PC platitudes run wild have produced a society so intent on self-conflict that they are trivial to control. After all, it seems a great number of people in America were so enthralled with getting either the first black or first female president elected, that we forgot about all the freedoms and liberty which was supposed to define the country, and voted in socialist tyranny.

America is broken, a beautiful experiment gone very wrong. Cultural homogeny will not fix all the problems, certainly, but it would go a long way toward giving the people a chance to wake up, and right the ship we're all on together.


  1. This position isn't a new one, and even I go back and forth on it. I'm kind of on the mindset that we should actually be teaching our kids to speak multiple lanuguages from as early as kindergarten, namely english spanish, and chinese. This was commonplace in Europe up until the early 18th century... it makes sense to me.

    Still, I do think it makes sense to make English the official language of America. if all the forms were in english, it would probably dissuade some immigrants from crossing the border. But I 100% disagree with signs being in English. Being from the NYC area, I LOVE going to chinatown or little italy, and seeing storefronts in their native tongues. The Enlish is almost always right under it. I think pride in cultural diversity makes us a more cultured people.

    Also, in a small town I think crime is less likely, because there is nothing to gain from it. You're going to steal from your neighbor who has just as much as you do? You're going to become a troll in your town with a population of 6000 bucks to score a big screen TV? In large populations where there is a larger gap in socio-economic status, there is a bigger difference between the haves and have nots. I don't know where you're from, but in my experience in the city, "street-smart" people are very well aware of cultural differences, so while there is a language barrier, there is a mutual understanding of each other that overcomes language.

    my $0.02

  2. The socio-economic status gap is a red herring. Statistically, as I understand it, most crime happens within the same neighborhoods where the criminals live, and to people of generally the same socio-economic status as the criminals. That's why, for example, East Palo Alto could have the highest per-capita murder rate in the entire country, while just across the freeway and within walking distance, Palo Also was one of the highest value neighborhoods in the entire country with a very low crime rate.

    I could go with signs in both languages, but English would be required, and possibly as the larger text. There's potential value in preserving something as culturally distinctive (eg: an Italian restaurant with an Italian feel), but the point is that if you're in America, you should be an Italian restaurant in America, not an Italian suburb which Americans can visit at their own risk. Consequently, it should be fine to have a Chinese restaurant right next door, with a distinctly Chinese look and decor, and signs, menus, and wait staff communication in English. Pride in cultural diversity should end where general public interaction begins: that's the difference between a melting pot and a melted pot.

  3. You are correct on the statistics you mention. However, I'm talking about the net difference of socio-economic status in the whole community, which can be upwards of 100 times larger than a small town.

    Crime mainly happens because the people who commit them feel there is no other way to get things. Because they feel devalued in society, they attempt to make up for it by acquiring possessions that signify some kind of wealth... usually by any means necessary. This I learned when interviewing several ex gangsters for a research project on the socio-economic gap in the inner city. Also, consider than many crimes in the inner-city are gang related, which means they are probably fightign for drugs or turf. They are not stealing TVs as much as they are vying for the best cut of marijuana and the best block for customers, which is a valuable commodity in some parts of the inner-city.

    This does not by any means make theivery ok, but I think it in order to figure out how to combat the problem we must understand the root cause, otherwise we cure symptoms without ever curign the disease.

    Now back to small towns, having went to undergrad in a VERY small town... population 6,300 (I'm from a town with 10x the population... there were more people in my school's marching band than there were students in their high school!), I have a little understanding of how they work too. The gap between the richest person in a small town and the poorest is significantly smaller. One wouldn't gain much from committing a crime against someone in the same economic boat. Add to that, the lack of diversity in when it comes to entertainment, and it is very likely that most people will cross paths with one another. Thus a smaller community, at the most instinctual level approaches their relationship with more of a sense of community, because they tend to rely on each other for many goods and services, ie. the village mechanic.

    This may just be a matter of personal preference, but I really like going to different cultural neighborhoods and being immersed in their culture. I can't afford to go to korea any time soon, so I like going to the little korea in queens, and seeing the storefronts and smelling the authentic flavors... it's like a teleportation device to a different country. I think it is a lot to ask of someone in their 30s for example who came here from korea to master a new language enough to do business in English. They know enough engligh to conduct business, and people who have to deal with lanuage barriers often, learn how to communicate through verbal cues. With the exception of illegal mexican immigrants, I think the rest are fairly harmless to American society. They come here on Visas, pay taxes, eventually earn citizenship, and play by the rules. The great thing about living in a country so large is if yo can't read the signs in koreatown, you can go to downtown and eat at a restaurant in 100% english.

    So in closing, I think to a large extent, the issue here may be with illegal immgrants, particularly from central america. The fact that they don't ay taxes makes creating concessions for them a bitter pill to swallow. To that end, I'm in agreement here... the illegal immigrant situation is out of control.

  4. I agree with the idea that there’s value in everyone speaking the same language. I don’t care which languages government forms are in, but it’s a subject for legitimate discussion.

    Signs that people or businesses put up on private property, however, should not be controlled by government. Especially if you’re trying to sell people on the idea of having government do less to try to help people, you have to accept government not helping in this arena either. It doesn’t matter whether we enjoy the feeling of foreign-language signs or whether English signs promote community. All that matters is the sign owner’s opinion.

    I’m not sure that America is an experiment gone wrong. Big countries like India and China have a dozen languages within each country: not something I want for US. Other countries like Japan have one language and no notion of a melting pot: not something I want for US. US has one main language and other cultures slowly melting in in the melting pot. Most Americans understand (I hope) that America is a nationality and vehicle set out over 200 years ago to realize some philosophical models about power flowing from the people to the government. It is not a race or language.

    I agree wholeheartedly that it’s wrong to encourage separate communities within the US. It would be better for everyone to learn the same language, but I think it’s okay (not ideal) that there are immigrant communities temporarily isolated. Give it a few generations.

  5. John Birch society lists making English the official language of the United States of America as a priority. When I was younger I encountered foreign signs and communities established in a foreing language (Chinatown, Hispanic communities) as niche areas and exceptions to the rule. Now that I am older I see that isn't so. I took it for granted that everyone was just expected to know and speak English. The fact that native born citizens have to lobby for English to be considered the primary and official language just boggles my mind. Btw, thanks for stopping in and posting (Disinformation/Lftisit spin on 'right-wing terrorists")