Tag Archives: common language

Is Pope Francis Right on Golden Rule Government?

Pope Francis argued today for Golden Rule government, a concept investigated, advocated and tested in the philosophical thriller Doing Unto Others: The Golden Rule Revolution, which I released earlier this summer.

In his address to Congress today, Pope Francis argued for the Golden Rule as the correct moral principle against which to create public policy, particularly focusing his remarks on its application to refugees, immigration and protecting life.

We agree on the Golden Rule principle, though in some cases have different perspectives on the correct answers to Golden Rule consideration.

Some will argue that religious principles have no business in the public arena, particularly since the Pope quoted a version of the Golden Rule contained in the Bible’s Book of Matthew. For those unfamiliar with the Golden Rule, he could have just as easily quoted from the Quran, the Torah, or from the scriptures and teaching of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and dozens of other faiths. He could have pulled Golden Rule quotes from atheists, secular humanists, existentialists and others not tied to a formal religion. It is our most common and agreed principle; shared by nearly all, though far from as frequently followed.

Its implementation is not easy. Properly implementing Golden Rule government requires gaining knowledge of each issue and the implications of various solutions, including exploration of alternatives not yet considered. It requires imaging ourselves in the circumstances of others and how we would want to be treated. It requires, in my view, looking at the long-term effects of the actions we adopt, not simply at the immediate emotional reaction. It requires testing for consistency. Do you react the same way regardless of race, party, gender or other point of differentiation? It also requires, as Professor Harry Gensler points out in Ethics and the Golden Rule, that we act only in a manner we would deem acceptable if we were in any position.

So, for immigration and refugees, the questions to ask are not just the simple ones. Continue reading

MSNBC’s Matthews Frets On U.S. Language Segregation

At the conclusion of his MSNBC Hardball show tonight, host Chris Matthews recognized the problem of America’s growing language segregation. Speaking in context of Scotland’s secession vote today, Matthews said he worries “occasionally where we are headed in the United States as we see the erosion of English as our agreed upon, common language. Nothing is easier than to break apart over language. Nothing is harder than to unite across the barriers of language.”

Well said, Mr. Matthews. If nothing else, the secession vote in Scotland alerts some among us to the dangers of growing divides by race, ethnicity, class, political party and, yes, by language. My first two books tell a story of where this may take us. For the rest of the Hardball commentary:

Does Coca Cola Ad Celebrate Diversity or Segregation?

The Super Bowl failed to generate much conflict, but Coca Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” advertisement is stirring generous gulps of internet angst. At the heart of the controversy is this complex question: 1) Was Coca Cola celebrating diversity by having “America the Beautiful” sung in a multitude of languages or is the iconic brand instead suggesting that we should become a nation segregated by language?

Coca Cola could easily have sent a powerful message of unity by having all of the singers come together at the end of the commercial and sing the last few phrases together in English. Such a commercial would have sent a powerful message that America celebrates diversity, honors multilingual citizens and welcomes immigrants from all over the world to join in becoming part of a nation that shares important common bonds.

I suspect that most but not all of today’s trauma could have been avoided had the producers not worried about offending people who believe it’s good to create new communities segregated by race, religion and language. Suggesting that people who move to the United States should learn English over time is racist to some academic elites and particularly to self-interested politicians who see personal gain in dividing America along language lines. It’s possible that the ad’s producers worried that having everyone sing in English at the end would have been taken as a slap against those in the United States illegally, because legal immigrants are required to learn English as a condition of citizenship. Whatever the reason, Coca Cola missed an opportunity to create a point of unity. If their intent was to generate controversy, they have succeeded.

My first two novels — Melting Point 2040 and Secession 2041 — tell stories of what awaits if we allow ourselves to be re-segregated by race, religion, class or language. We should welcome voices in every language to America. But we should also want to welcome immigrants into a nation where we can speak together and develop a united direction, rather than further segregation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=443Vy3I0gJs#action=share

 

 

Language Segregation a Tough Barrier, Study Finds

Growing racial diversity in the U.S. student population is not preventing a spread of segregation, with African American and Hispanic students attending “more segregated schools than at any time in the past 20 years,” notes University of Texas at Austin Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig in his Cloaking Inequity blog post referencing his new co-authored study: “Nearly 50 years post-Jim Crow: Persisting and Expansive School Segregation for African American, Latina/o and ELL students in Texas.”

One finding of the study highlights the risks of language isolation, an issue that drives societal upset in my novel Melting Point 2040:

“Some policies that have been adopted with the intent of improving language acquisition, as in the past, have the effect of increasing linguistic isolation: for example, research has found that school systems that are racially diverse often adopt “clustered bilingual” programs in an effort to best serve the linguistic needs of ELL students. As in the past, a linguistic rationale used by school districts in terms of meeting the needs of ELL has the effect (intentionally or unintentionally) of increasing isolation of ELL students and reducing exposure to native speakers during the school day.”

Creating a melting pot society in which immigrants integrate into the broader community is an important component of creating national stability, longevity and, ultimately, elements of unity. It turns out that integration also improves success rates for individuals integrating into broader society, making the efforts of some to promote racial, ethnic, religious or language segregation as part of self-serving political agendas all the more troubling.

See the link below for more on this study’s findings:

Troubling Segregation Trends Continue

 

Whole Foods Language Policy Just the Start

In Melting Point 2040, 18-year-old Mexican immigrant Juan Gonzalez is spurred into aggressive political protest by an English fluency requirement at a massive retailer in a heavily Spanish speaking part of Arizona. War gamer/survivalist and English-only speaker Pete Roote is angered by a Spanish-only hiring requirement at a Colorado meatpacking firm established because it is easier to train in one language by hiring only Spanish-speaking applicants. In my novel, those events take place in 2040.

Last weekend, a dispute began drawing national attention to issues of language requirements. Two employees at a Whole Foods store in New Mexico claim they were suspended for complaining about what they characterized as an English-only requirement. Whole Foods disputes the characterization of their policy, saying they require English to be spoken on the clock, except when speaking to customers who prefer another language. The company says the policy is to spur “inclusion” and to improve employee safety, noting also that employees can speak any language at lunch, on breaks, or if all participants in a discussion agree to speak in another language. The company also says that the two suspended employees were suspended for “rude and disrespectful behavior,” not a language policy violation.

At a news conference outside the Albuquerque store, the director of the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) threatened to launch a nationwide boycott of Whole Foods if the company does not change its policy. MoveOn.org, often seen as a branch of the Democratic Party, has jumped into the fray nationally, starting a petition drive to force Whole Foods to allows employees to speak with each other in any language. Continue reading

Is Multiculturalism a Failure?

In the past two weeks, a soldier in London was beheaded by Islamic terrorists, a soldier near Paris was stabbed in the neck by an angry immigrant and immigrants rioted in Stockholm. As these events built, social media platforms lit up with exchanges on whether multiculturalism is starting to fail — or has already failed. At question are policies that bring in immigrants from Islamic nations to stave off population decline and associated economic calamities.

Is Multiculturalism a Failure?

The issue, from what I have seen, is not that diverse peoples cannot live together in harmony. It is that diversity requires integration for long-term success. Many advocates of multiculturalism suggest that is is culturally insensitive or racist to require immigrants to learn a common language, adapt new societal norms in the new country and otherwise take part in the broader society. I believe the opposite is the case.

One of America’s current failings is that we are stepping backward in implementing Brown v. Board of Education. Continue reading

Immigration, Segregation, Mothers and National Survival

In recent weeks, issues of race, language, immigration and the potential for broader conflict have elevated considerably following a national report showing that  racial segregation is expanding at a dramatic pace. That this study took place and subsequent consternation is taking place in the United Kingdom should offer no relief to those of us worried about the long term impacts of segregation in the United States.

A recent column in Express laments Britain’s move toward looking like America: “In such places as Detroit and Baltimore a white person is as rare as a truthful politician. There are entire school districts that are white, black or Hispanic. It is important to stress this is wrong for everyone involved, from black to white and every colour in between. Segregation is not the way forward; integration is, yet we are further away from that in this country than ever before.”

The Express columnist noted former Equality and Human Rights Commission Chairman Trevor Phillips saw accelerated segregation coming eight years earlier when he warned Britain was “sleepwalking into segregation” and allowing “ghettoes” of different races and faiths to flourish. “Predictably he was shouted down and bizarrely even branded a racist,” the columnist wrote.  (Segregation is Madness.)

Long-term segregation, along racial, language or religious lines, has led to violent confrontation in nearly every country through human history where it has been allowed to flourish. Those who suggest it won’t happen here believe the conditions for conflict won’t exist in their lifetime. I believe we are merely awaiting the final demographic shifts and ascension of exploitative, self-serving politicians to turn growing divisions into conflict if we don’t begin acting to create more integrated experiences.

There is no greater gift that we can give to mothers on this day than to ensure their children do not end up fighting in senseless conflicts driven by divisions we saw coming, but then allowed to happen.

 

 

Thoughtful concerns about re-segregation

In Melting Point 2040 and Secession 2041, I focus on the consequences to the nation from re-segregation and politically exploited division. The attached article does a nice job of explaining the nearer-term consequences of re-segregation on America’s children.

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/19/4191812/school-inequality-hurts-all-kids.html

 

Integration Reversing into Segregation

In a recent discussion at a local high school, we talked about concerns with the re-segregation of America and how not sharing a common language and some elements of common culture and experience makes it difficult to solve community problems. From an overall perspective, America looks more diverse today than 50 years ago. That diversity, however, is not evenly spread. Our melting pot is coagulating into separate spaces.

Much of our divide, as Bill Bishop writes in The Big Sort, is driven by demographic choices families are making to live in communities where other residents look like them and share their political and economic interests. To compound this segregation, race is a primary characteristic used in establishing legislative and congressional districts around the nation with majority-minority districts created to elect officials of a particular race or ethnicity. Racial gerrymandering had the positive purpose when promoted in the Voting Rights Act of ensuring that minorities had electoral power. Too many politicians, though, recognize this Act means they will never represent a diverse constituency. They then proceed to mock the Act by fostering racial divides to enhance their reelection prospects at the expense of solving real problems.

The linked article, from the Richmond Times Dispatch, provides background on another growing issue worth understanding, the issue of segregation within communities and even within individual school districts: http://bit.ly/13Yd9wV

How do we ensure that America has enough of a common culture to be united? How do we encourage integration, while maintaining respect for various cultures and differences? Not easy questions. But it’s clear we have yet to find the right answers.

Politicians Exploit Language Differences

It’s not just in the United States that we find politicians exploiting language differences for partisan advantage. The link below highlights how language differences turn into political division (this time in Canada).

Maintaining a common language and elements of common culture are among the reasons that immigration reform is critical. We want and need to welcome immigrants. But we want those who come here to share a common language as quickly as possible and to learn how our government works (or should work in any case). Both of these happen with legal immigration, but not with many entering illegally.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/19/pq-language-laws-go-too-far-justin-trudeau-says-during-quebec-visit/

We want to encourage citizens to be bilingual and trilingual, but a common language contributes to the nation’s stability and longevity. Without it, we have to rely on politicians to not exploit differences. That hasn’t proved workable of late.