Over the last several years immigration, whether it be legal or illegal, has been an enormous issue of national debate in this country. It undoubtedly will continue to be discussed by liberals and conservatives alike, well into the future. Immigration is obviously not a new concept to our country. We all, at some point in our ancestry, have immigrants that make up our family tree, and are responsible for giving us the opportunity to live in the greatest country on earth. Immigration, to a large extent, is what gives America it¡¯s uniqueness and allows this country to thrive in so many different areas. I myself am a fourth generation descendant of German immigrants, and am very thankful for the courage and fortitude, which my ancestors possessed, that has ultimately allowed me to enjoy life as an American. I hope everyone in this great country understands how they got here and appreciates those immigrants who made it possible.
The fact that this country was founded and sustained by immigrants doesn¡¯t need much elaboration. A point I feel that is not focused on nearly enough, however, is the unique heritage and culture that has been established over the last several hundred years by these early American Immigrants. Immigrants that have come from all corners of the world with the dream in mind of a more prosperous, fulfilling life for themselves and their families. Over the course of many generations, these brave men and women have established a culture that is like no other on earth. It is a culture full of customs, traditions, dialects and religions that are our own and unites us as Americans. It was the immersion into this culture that the early American immigrant knew would be vital to his success in this new country. It is this heritage that I and so many others who have had a hand in it¡¯s creation and fulfillment, would like to see protected and supported so that future generations of immigrants can continue to realize their dreams of living in the greatest country on earth.
The mission statement of the ¡°Speak English¡± campaign is to encourage people to promote and support the sustainment of the American heritage and the American culture. Many people over many generations have invested blood, sweat, and tears into creating an America that affords all of us opportunities that are not available anywhere else in the world. Out of respect to past generations, the least we can do as the present generation is to promote the longevity of the culture that our forefathers have created.
This campaign is in no way intended to degrade or demean the cultures or heritages of others' nationalities or races. There is never an excuse to show disrespect to anyone based simply on the diversity of his or her culture. However, this is a two way street. When immigrants vote with their feet and come to this country with the intent to live, work, raise a family and enjoy all of the incredible advantages that America has to offer, but make no attempt to learn the language, observe the customs, or celebrate the holidays, these immigrants are showing a tremendous amount of disrespect to their hosts. They are showing a tremendous lack of respect as well to the men and women who over the course of history have sacrificed much to make this country great.
In my own personal experiences, I have lived abroad for over a year of my life, three different times in Puerto Rico and once in Venezuela. During my time in these countries, I did my best to speak their language even though my Spanish is barely adequate. I attempted to speak the language whenever the situation presented itself and worked to learn the language better in order to avoid the ¡®ugly American¡¯ stereotype. I went to numerous local holiday celebrations such as parties that centered on the Puerto Rican holiday ¡°Three Kings Day¡±, as well as numerous other festivals and gatherings. My life during my time abroad was certainly much easier trying to conform to local society rather than trying to make local society conform to me.
Assimilating local society is a concept that is being lost on many of today¡¯s modern day immigrants. Every current and future immigrant should realize what all early American immigrants knew, that assimilating the American culture is the only way to truly realize and enjoy all that this great country has to offer. Countless numbers of pre-modern immigrants went to great lengths to intertwine themselves into the fabric of their new country. Many newcomers did things such as changing their last names in order to seem ¡°more American¡±. They also understood that the adoption of local customs and learning the language was critical to their survival. In the last generation however, we are seeing a much more unassimilated immigrant who seems to care more about recreating the culture of his homeland than accepting the culture of his new country. This attitude of many of today¡¯s immigrants is not healthy if we are to retain a strong, cohesive and united America.
¡°E Pluribus Unum¡±, this age-old American credo is a point of pride that runs deep in the hearts and minds of many Americans. America has evolved into the greatest nation on earth by putting this concept into practice. Generation after generation, people from all ever the globe have made their way to the United States to be absorbed under the common brotherhood of American nationalism. Whether from Japan, Denmark or Italy, immigrants have arrived for centuries with a desire to eventually enjoy a common bond shared with their countrymen based on language, traditions, customs and similar religious beliefs. It is this common bond, felt by the citizens of this country that has made America a beacon of hope around the world. There are, unfortunately, forces that have been introduced into this country over the last decade that are threatening that common bond and our national unity. These forces are multiculturalism and multilingualism. The fastest way to destroy America is to destroy the cohesiveness that Americans feel toward one another, and the fastest way to destroy that feeling is to encourage people to separate themselves from one another along the lines of culture and language. The historian Seymour Lipset observed, ¡°The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.¡± Countries such as Canada, Belgium, Malaysia and Lebanon all face crises of some significance where minorities press for autonomy if not outright independence. It is only a matter of time as we as a nation continue to segregate ourselves from one another that a serious division in our national population will take place. Then the American credo will not be ¡°E Pluribus Unum¡± but ¡°E Unum Pluribus¡±.
This campaign, as I have said before, is not to demean or degrade other cultures of nationalities, but instead to bolster American nationalism and promote pride in the American culture. This country was made strong by the influx of immigrants and will continue to be a great nation with the help of new immigrants. These new immigrants, however, will strengthen America and realize genuine prosperity for themselves and their families only if they are willing to integrate themselves into the fabric of this country and truly become Americans. Without assimilation, America will grow more and more divided; and a country divided against itself cannot stand. As Americans, we can band together against the forces that encourage division and help new immigrants blend themselves into our culture. It is with this that America will stay united and strong.
To those of you who have always supported me, I thank you. And I know there are many of you who are reading this that have disagreed with me over the years, and I truly appreciate you taking the time to hear what I have to say. I love this country and I will use my voice to help make it a better place for all of us to live. It¡¯s time to stop feeling guilty for living in the greatest nation on earth, and start standing up for America.
September 25, 2006