Saturday, May 02, 2009
What Unites Us? (Op-Ed)
Our nation is known as the "United States of America", but what is it that unites us? This question came to my mind as I was reading the Voter Rights Act where there is a portion that addresses voters who speak other languages:
The Act requires municipalities that receive requests for ballots in other languages to comply with the request. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California said of the Act, "What unites us? It's our language, the English language," and that the Act is "hurting America by making it easier not to learn English."
Does the English language unite us as a nation? If so how does that effect citizens who do not speak English?
When thinking through this line of logic I am reminded of a joke heard in France a while ago at our nation's expense. It goes something like this:
"What do you call someone who speaks multiple languages?"
"What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
"what do you call someone who speaks only one language?"
Only in America are the bigoted ideals of the ignorant so supported they seem celebrated. Allow me to share this painful example: The NH "Pants man"
Allow me to share my opinion on what unites us. In a country to rich in diversity it is no particular trait that unites us, but rather the acceptance of that diversity without the need to compromise your own views while standing together in defense of that liberty. Indeed, liberty is our most valuable heirloom and is what "unites" America. The terms of that liberty is defined in the Constitution which derives it's power by the free will of the people to follow it. No religion, language, ethnicity, or other discerning features in society should be used to imply one group has more authority or authenticity than another opposing view unless a compelling interest can be found.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" ~written on the Statue of Liberty, poem by Emma Lazarus
Did we really mean what we say on the Statue of Liberty, or is it just another line of political BS?