Thursday, May 03, 2007

Is the U.S. Government Out to Undermine English?

by Newt Gingrich

Our friend Paul Weyrich at the Free Congress Foundation had a distressing story last week for anyone who is concerned about the future of the English language in our country. It's a story about a charity whose good works exemplify Christian-based dedication and compassion. It's a story about an employer who tried to do the right thing -- to encourage its employees to learn and speak English. And it's a story of a misguided federal agency that is using taxpayers' money to punish those who encourage English, rather than reinforcing English as the language of American success and cultural unity.

Government Lawyers Sue the Salvation Army for Requiring English

The Salvation Army operates thrift stores across the United States. In keeping with its mission to help the less fortunate, these stores both cater to lower income customers and often employ people who might have difficulty finding work elsewhere. The Salvation Army has a policy that requires its employees to speak English on the job. In a 2003 opinion, a federal judge in Boston approved of the policy as a legitimate business practice. The next year, a Salvation Army store in Framingham, Mass., did what I think most of us would agree was the right thing to do: It gave two of its employees who spoke very little English a year to achieve a level of English proficiency required to do the job.

It's important to note that the Salvation Army didn't summarily fire these two employees. Quite the opposite. Counting the five years they had already worked there, the employees had a total of six years to learn English. But when they had failed to do so by 2005, they were let go.

That's when the U.S. government sued. That's right. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a taxpayer-funded government commission, is suing the Salvation Army, a private, charitable, religious, non-profit group. The government is alleging that the Salvation Army discriminated against the two employees by requiring them to speak English on the job, thus inflicting "emotional pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment, humiliation and inconvenience."

Now ask yourself two things: Why is the government undermining the efforts of charities to encourage people to learn English? And doesn't it have better things to do with our tax dollars?

The Department of Justice Also Undermines English

There's another way the U.S. government is wasting our resources in order to undermine English in America: By filing lawsuits charging discrimination that no one has alleged, in order to protect voters who never asked for protection.

All of us are aware of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, which gave Americans who had previously been illegitimately denied the right to vote the opportunity to participate in democratic self-government. But as I've argued before in "Winning the Future," the Voting Rights Act has been misapplied in recent years. One section, for example, requires something I have long advocated be repealed: the printing of foreign-language ballots. And the reason I advocate this is simple: If U.S. citizenship is a precondition for voting, and knowing English is a precondition for citizenship, then why would any citizen exercising his or her right to vote need a foreign-language ballot?

Bean Counting for Lawsuits

It turns out that, when the Department of Justice (DOJ) is monitoring a city or a county under the Voting Rights Act to see if foreign-language-speaking voters are getting the assistance they need to vote, they don't wait for anyone to complain that they're being discriminated against. They just comb through the voter registration lists, count the number of foreign-sounding names, and see if it matches up with the number of foreign-language-speaking poll workers. If the ratio of foreign-sounding names to foreign-language-speaking poll workers isn't what the Department of Justice thinks it should be, they sue.

The DOJ filed just such a lawsuit against the town of Springfield, Mass. Not a single voter had complained of lack of access to the polls due to a lack of foreign-language assistance. Still, the government demanded that Springfield add more foreign-language-speaking poll workers in order to ensure that foreign-language-speaking voters "understand, learn of, and participate in all phases of the electoral process."

The government sent federal workers to monitor the election, too. They counted 92 instances of foreign-language "voter assistance" -- 92 out of more then 16,000 voters who went to the polls. And "voter assistance" is defined as someone saying anything in a language other then English, such as asking for a ballot or complaining about the weather. The price tag for the taxpayers for the lawsuit? $435 per voter. And that's just the federal tab.

As Edward Blum, writing in The Weekly Standard correctly put it (subscription required), "The Justice Department has embraced the legal tactics of a sue-happy plaintiff's lawyer: dig through a jurisdiction's election data looking for an improperly low number of bilingual poll workers, file a lawsuit, then muscle the local government into a consent decree and settlement -- another scalp to add to the pile."

Better Ways to Spend Our Tax Dollars

No legitimate American voter should be denied access to the polls. And no person should be discriminated against on the basis of his race or national origin at his place of work. But don't we want a federal government that reinforces English -- not one that searches for lawsuits against learning and using English?

A far better -- and more humane -- use of our tax dollars would be for Congress to first make it clear that employers are permitted to require that English be spoken for legitimate business purposes while on the job, as long as the policy is clearly posted and known to employees before they are hired. Congress should also require that the DOJ receive a complaint before filing a lawsuit for alleged voter discrimination.

And then Congress should create a voucher program for adult immigrants to receive intensive English instruction. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has proposed such a program, which would allow immigrants who want to become citizens to meet their residency requirements in less time, thus giving them an incentive to learn English.

Allowing employers to require English on the job and insisting that English be the official language of government does not reject or undermine the importance of our heritage as a nation of immigrants. In Benjamin Franklin's day, German was very widely spoken in Pennsylvania. In the 19th Century, Italian, Yiddish and Polish became common languages in many neighborhoods. Today, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and dozens more foreign languages are spoken by Americans who are proud of their heritage. Every American should be encouraged to learn a foreign language in order to better understand the world. Promoting English as the official language of government is part of supporting everyone's having an equal opportunity to pursue happiness and prosperity.

As you have heard me say many times before, English is the language of American success and cultural unity. Americans, new and old, deserve nothing less than a government that seeks to protect and preserve English, to defend the need for employers to require English on the job and to help those who want assistance in learning English. That would be a story we'd all like to hear.



Was prosecutor Michael Nifong simply an over-rated ambulance chaser who rose to his level of incompetence? Was he a scheming opportunist who needed to boost his flagging re-election chances? Or did his dogged prosecution of the Duke Three reflect a deeper, more systemic problem in our criminal justice system?

Here's the dirty little secret of D.A.s who prosecute sexual assault and domestic violence cases: many of the claims they pursue are as flaky as a pie crust and their chances of winning a jury conviction are slim. So why do they bother to go after the case? Because - get ready for this -- they believe "we are encouraging abused women to come forward and confront their oppressors."

So according to that neo-Marxist logic, if we want to get really tough on say, bank robbers, what we need to do is randomly accuse innocent persons of burglary and then parade them through the streets, denouncing them for a crime they did not commit.

Of course, rape is a terrible crime. Equally terrible are false allegations of rape. According to Linda Fairstein, former head of the New York County District Attorney's Sex Crimes Unit, "There are about 4,000 reports of rape each year in Manhattan. Of these, about half simply did not happen."

But sadly, many innocent men have been wrongfully put behind bars. Just this week Jerry Miller of Chicago was exonerated after serving 24 years for a rape he didn't commit. His release helped inspire a national campaign dubbed "200 Exonerated, Too Many Wrongfully Convicted," an effort designed to spur state reforms of the criminal justice system. [Read]

Many persons have heard of the Violence Against Women Act -- VAWA for short. But most are unaware of the extent to which VAWA-mandated programs have biased our judiciary and chipped away at the presumption of innocent until proven guilty. VAWA's tentacles reach deep and wide, reshaping our nation's laws on immigration, welfare, and public housing. The Act defines domestic violence broadly, so sexual assault and rape fall within its purview. VAWA authorizes $50 million each year for its Sexual Assault Services Program, which contributed to the Duke fiasco in many ways. First, VAWA pays the legal bills of alleged victims of sexual assault. Want to guess how much money goes to help men accused of rape? Nada.

That sets the stage for a prosecutorial shake-down that works like this: Find a guy who can't afford a million-dollar legal defense team. Smear his good name with an accusation of rape. Then settle for a plea bargain conviction on a lesser count of sexual assault. The attorneys get their money and the D.A. can add another notch to his (or her) belt.

Second, did you wonder why Michael Nifong never required accuser Crystal Gail Mangum to take a polygraph test? Simple: the Violence Against Women Act prohibits it. Section 2013 states, "no law enforcement officer, prosecuting officer, or other government official shall ask or require an adult, youth, or child victim of an alleged sex offense to submit to a polygraph examination or other truth telling device."

Third, VAWA funds training programs for prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement personnel. To say the content of these programs lacks a scientific basis is generous. This past November the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence sponsored a conference. First one of the speakers made light of a Florida incident in which a young man was sexually assaulted by a female teacher. The presenter then turned around and used the terms "scum bag" and "douche bag" to refer to men accused of abuse.

At an earlier New Jersey training session, one presenter openly encouraged judges to ignore due process protections: "Your job is not to become concerned about all the constitutional rights of the man that you're violating as you grant a restraining order. Throw him out on the street, give him the clothes on his back, and tell him, `See ya' around.'"

Fourth, VAWA's overly-aggressive prosecution measures have been found to be flatly ineffective in stopping abuse. Still, these measures have instilled a legal of climate of "every man is a potential rapist" - ignoring the equally ridiculous corollary that "every woman is a potential false accuser."

Fifth, VAWA's unstated belief that women can only be victims dissuades prosecutors from going after false accusers. As Massachusetts district attorney David Angier once argued, "If anyone is prosecuted for filing a false report, then victims of real attacks will be less likely to report them." And failing to prosecute women who make malicious accusations only means that men will continue to be falsely accused, charged, prosecuted, convicted, sentenced, and jailed.


When will we British learn to stop appeasing terror?

By Melanie Phillips

The ending of the Al Qaeda fertiliser bomb plot trial has posed crucial questions about the competence of MI5. In particular, the assurances we were given after the 7/7 bombings, that the perpetrators had been unknown to the security service, have been shown to be utterly false.

Disturbing as that is by itself, the case also raises yet more pressing questions about whether Britain is even now acting effectively enough against the threat to this country from Islamist terrorism. The fact is that Al Qaeda now sees Britain as both its principal target and its principal recruiting ground. By its own admission, MI5 is monitoring no fewer than 200 terrorist networks, 1,600 identified individual terrorists and 30 known terrorist plots. It says British Muslims are being indoctrinated with horrifying speed, and more terrorists are being recruited every day.

In truth, as our leading counterterrorist police officer, Peter Clarke, said last week, this country is facing a terrorist threat of a nature and scale it has simply never seen before. This terrorism is part of a global holy war - and the dreadful thing is that it is recruiting British-born boys as its foot-soldiers against their own fellow citizens. When my book Londonistan was published a year ago, my claim that we were in a state of denial about the unprecedented emergency we were facing from home-grown terrorism and extremism was dismissed in some quarters as unwarranted alarmism. Since then, public opinion has shifted. Many have realised that what I wrote was, if anything, an understatement of the true position.

But our official class is still failing to take the action that is necessary to defeat this threat to our whole way of life. Certainly, it is now aware of the enormous scale of the terror threat. But it is still fighting it with both hands tied behind its back. In particular, the Human Rights Act continues to make effective anti-terror policy almost impossible. Only last week, the Government was prevented from deporting two Libyan terrorist suspects, even though they came here illegally and are deemed to pose a serious threat to our lives, because our judges have said no one can be sent anywhere that might not uphold their human rights.

The Government was originally begged by our security services not to pass the Human Rights Act precisely because of the danger it would pose to national security by tying us in such knots. Ministers merely dismissed their concerns. Now the same security services face the nightmare that Islamist terrorists will obtain a nuclear or other dirty bomb to use against Britain, with a human rights law that makes it more difficult to thwart such a terrible outcome.

Even worse than this, ministers seem to have no idea about the need to attack the ideology driving all this. It is simply not enough to flush out the terrorist cells, vital though that clearly is. We have to defeat the ideas driving some British Muslims to commit these acts in the first place. The Government has started paying lip service to this. It has spoken against the extremism of the Muslim Council of Britain, and is encouraging a wider range of truly moderate Muslims to speak up. And a few more extremists are being arrested. But at the same time, it is still appeasing radicalism.

It has become a cliche to say that most British Muslims are moderate. Certainly, most of them undoubtedly would have no truck with terrorism or violence and encouragingly, a growing number are speaking out against Islamist extremism. But extremist views are not confined to a few rogue elements. Opinion polls suggest that more than 100,000 of our Muslim citizens think the July 2005 attacks in London were justified. A report by the Policy Exchange think-tank revealed that around one third of British Muslims thought that if Muslims left the faith, they should be killed; and 37 per cent of 16-to-24-year-olds wanted to live in Britain under Sharia rather than English law. These numbers subscribing to such extremist views are deeply disturbing. They swell the sea in which terrorism swims.

If this tide is to be held back, Islamist extremism in Britain must be stopped and British values reasserted and stoutly upheld. To defeat such extremism, we have to make it abundantly clear that we will not give an inch to those who want to destroy our values. But we appear instead to be doing nothing to stop the spread of radical Islamism. Indeed, in a myriad different ways we are giving out the lethal message that we have neither the will nor the courage to defend our way of life. British Muslims are being recruited in large numbers to terror because next to nothing is being done to stop it.

Last January, a Channel Four television Dispatches programme revealed that at certain mosques which were assumed to be moderate and which were even prominent in talking to other faiths, material was being preached and disseminated advocating such horrors as the murder of homosexuals, the beating of women and hatred of Christians and Jews. Despite the Prime Minister's promise to outlaw the radical group Hizb ut Tahrir (which believes that Britain should be an Islamic state), the Government refuses to do so. Yet, Ed Husain, an extremely brave former radical who has recanted, chillingly documents in his new book The Islamist the enormous influence of this group in telling countless British Muslims it's their duty to wage holy war, and that Muslims have a corresponding duty "to be prepared to launch attacks on Britain from within".

Not only are we failing to halt the spread of such lethally extremist views, we are also failing to hold the line for our own values. Above all else, we should absolutely refuse to countenance the spread of Sharia law, which is not only inimical to our own deepest principles but aims to supplant our own laws. Yet we are turning a blind eye to the steady Sharia-isation of our country. We have ignored the development of informal parallel Sharia jurisdictions, enforced by Sharia courts, in areas heavily populated by Muslims. We have not only turned a blind eye to the polygamous marriages they sanction in Britain, but now give extra welfare benefits to husbands settling here with multiple wives - even though bigamy is a crime.

Despite the fact that thousands of Muslim women are terrorised by the threat of "honour killings", only a few of these horrific cases result in prosecutions - because our police are terrified of being accused of "racism" if they pursue them.

Now Gordon Brown has said Britain should become the centre of global Islamic banking. But this is heavily backed by Saudi Arabia which will use it to further its objective of Islamising the West - and may even provide a cover for the financing of further terror. This craven appeasement of extremism gives Islamists the unmistakable message that Britain is theirs for the taking. Thus truly moderate Muslims are betrayed, and all of us are put in infinitely greater danger - not just from terrorism, but from a culture that still seems to be sleepwalking to oblivion.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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