What's this about?

Nothing Freedom Fries Jones does any more surprises me. Instead of spending whatever little political capital he has working to help working people, he puts all his time and energy into promoting "his" god, the pledge of allegiance, and now, the English language. Thanks to the Dome for digging up the story.

It is important for people living in the United States to speak and understand English. A common language is what makes a nation one,” Congressman Jones said. “President Clinton’s Executive Order 13166 not only divides our nation by language, but also imposes a tremendous burden on American tax dollars. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the total national cost of implementing the Order could be as high as $1 to $2 billion annually, with additional unaccounted for costs which could be significant.

Who, besides Walter Jones, says that a common language is what makes a nation one? China, for example, has dozens of languages, and does not appear to be suffering any kind of identity crisis. Canada manages two official languages without fatal heartburn. Indeed, most countries of the world have significant English-speaking populations. Are they all at risk of disintegrating before our very eyes?

And about those figures. Could the number be as high as $1 billion or could it be as high as $2 billion. Which is it, Walter? And why are you throwing around a range of costs that varies by 100%? Could it be that you don't know what the heck you're talking about?

Regardless of which number you use, this public service could be easily funded by what we're currently spending every couple of days on your holy war against terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(Can anyone help me find the amount of taxes paid by legal citizens living in the 30 million Spanish-speaking household in America? My Googly skills aren't running so smoothly today.)

And finally, what about American Sign Language, Walter? It's a darn good thing there are no deaf people in America trying to suck up valuable taxpayer resources. Because if there were, don't you think we should make them speak English too?

What's this really about, Walter?

First you say you have no allegiance other than to your god ... and now this?

I've got news for you old man, your god doesn't speak English either.


It's about Mr. Jones, Jr. pandering...

He's pandering to the farmers that need control over migratory workers every summer. He's pandering to the right wing xenophobes that say, even though the U.S. was born of immigration, there should be no more foreigners in America. He's pandering to the immoral minority that get caught up in the emotion of having an enemy, regardless of who that enemy is.

It's about the politics of fear and hatred. You'd think that in the year 2008, 232 years after our founding, 140 years after a civil war based, in part, on racial equality, that we'd be better people. But we're not. And we should be ashamed.

Thomas S. Brock

What have YOU done today to elect a Democrat?


What have YOU done today to make the world a better place?

What a load of BS

"A common language is what makes a nation one,” Congressman Jones said.

Apparently Mr. Jones doesn't think I was born in a nation. Belgium has 3 official languages.
There's a long list of nations that have more than one single language, another European example that I can think of is Switzerland.
Mr. Jones must not have traveled outside of the US ever.

It might not be the most

It might not be the most important thing that "makes a national one," but it way, way up there.

As for Belgium, that's pretty exceptional. Just consider what the French think about the relationship between language and French culture. They're Nazis about the French language (pun also intended here).

Again, I don't disagree that Jones's xenophobic statements are jejune pandering. But, seriously, it's just silly to say language doesn't change a culture. I like the change; conservatives don't, so they fight battles like this.

A little too fast.

I don't think I'd disagree with your policy point, but there's nothing strange about saying a language may be the cornerstone of a culture and aid in the expression and exportation of concomitant values of that culture. Greek religion, values, and philosophy were spread around the Mediterranean largely with - and because of - the spread of the Greek language. And then Rome with Latin, to French, to the beginnings of English common law, etc., etc.

Also, I find your examples a little odd. Canada? Quebec has been pissed forever and may still secede one way. The latest votes have been very close, and Anglophones in Montreal are often treated badly. As for China, there's no "identity crisis" because of the authoritarian crackdowns against subcultures in China and the fact that China's identity isn't organic, but just an expression of the state. (An ever more cohesive and jokey one as the Olympics approach.) Just ask Tibetans, or the Turkic-speaking people of Xinjian province what language means. As for sign language, well, that's totally inapt to the extent people who use ASL can't speak any oral language, or the extent they choose not too but think of all oral languages are inferior to ASL. ASL is a breed apart "linguistically" (pun intended).

Anyhoo, none of this is to say we should enforce English as an official language. Or that even if we wanted to, that we could. I say only that if you're a conservative, and you don't want culture to change, it's not irrational to want to limit the spread of other languages. That spread will change culture. I guess I just don't fear that change; I welcome it. I spent two years in Texas working for the federal courts, and I speak Spanish, and I have a real love for the many flavors of Latino culture (especially American Latino culture). In fact, I can't figure out why the hell Raleigh doesn't have taco trucks downtown. Please, anyone, taco trucks downtown...

(Also, it's not just pasty white people that want to limit the spread of Spanish. Many old-school Latinos in places like Texas (where's they've been since, oh, say, 1550) dislike immigrants who don't try to learn English (and, relatedly, they are often very anti-immigration). I think of a Latina court employee in Del Rio, Texas who called a lawyer's office and the secretary answered, "bueno." (Roughly hello.) She chewed her out.)

Good points all around

I was thinking the same things about China and Canada when I wrote them, though I think you carry them too far. I work with companies in Canada every day and they use both French and English in everything they do. That won't change no matter what happens with the government.

And in Beijing alone, multiple languages coexist from block to block inside the city. Cross one ring-road and everyone speaks a completely different language than the one you left 50 meters behind. Their cohesiveness is not imposed by anything other than self-interest. They get along just fine because (1) they can and (2) they have no reason not to.

In the US, businesses have already decided that we are a multi-lingual nation. Just look at the packaging for consumer products sold by almost any large retailer.

Good self-interest.

Great point about self-interest: that will always trump! Trade, at least in the abstract, always breaks down barriers.

According to Mr. Jones these are not nations

Since they don't have one official language the following countries are not nations according to Mr. Jones:

Afghanistan (Persian (Dari), Pashtu),

Belarus (Belarusian, Russian),

Belgium (Dutch, French, German),

Bolivia (Spanish, Quechua, Aymara),

Canada (English and French),

Eritrea (Tigrigna, Arabic and English),

Finland (Finnish, Swedish),

India (Hindi, English and about 21 others...),

Paraguay (Spanish and Guaraní),

South Africa (Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda),

Switzerland (German, French, Italian, Romansh.)

it is called extremely popular legislation

With a majority of your disrict in an election year, when you are facing a primary race on your right flank, if you have been at politics very long you would know this.

A law that allows lynching queers

would probably be popular too.

I've been at politics for 40 years now, and bigoted zealots have always turned my stomach. You're right. There's nothing new here.

No need to be subtle James

bigoted zealots have always turned my stomach


Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

to achieve english fluency

It is a noble idea, so I will wait for legislation to promote scholarships and incentives for people to become teachers of English as a Foreign Language, and free/low cost classes for all persons who are not good speakers, so that we can leave no immigrant behind.

I work as a volunteer with adults who are learning English. Most are educated people who are here for a year or two with a spouse. Many have studied English already for five or more years in school. but they still lack confidence in doing the basics. Never mind that many a proper English speaker would be challenged by trying to comprehend some of our regional accents. I worked to overcome my East Texas slurring of words and know that my students would not understand a word my own mother said.

People are clamoring to learn English, if there were only enough classes and teachers. A person is extremely vulnerable in this country without an understanding of English, and I have seen it with my students - it seems telemarketers love to call people with foreign accents and persuade them to buy things, give up their bank information, etc.

Any representative who thinks English should be mandated is welcome to visit another country and automatically become fluent in that country's language. I recommend Chinese, which I have struggled with for several years now.

Haven't we had enough of unfunded mandates?

Walter Jones Constituent Services

Constituent Assistance:
Revised English only version

Anyone who's ever dealt with a government bureaucracy in any language knows how frustrating and intimidating it can be. Fortunately, Congressman Jones can help you handle any problem you encounter with the federal government, in English. Each year, we help thousands of 3rd District residents who have questions in English or need help with federal agencies, in English.

If you can't get an answer from a federal agency, in English, in a reasonable time or if you have been treated unfairly, we might be able to help resolve a problem or get you the information you need, in English. While we cannot guarantee you a favorable outcome in your native language, we will do our best to help you receive a fair and timely response to your problem in English.

In order for me to give you assistance in English please complete this English text only, or English PDF form and mail or fax it to me at the address shown on the form. Or if you prefer, you can stop by my Greenville office to speak in person, in English, to a Constituent Services Representative.

This is a two page form but I have chosen it a three page form with one superfluous page devoted to my name and address to show how responsive I am to the needs of my constituents like Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, in English.



This lovely ditty was written on a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 13.1, which assumes that everyone who reads it is reading on a high school graduate, first year of college level. Most newspapers are written at about a 4th to 6th grade level. As for ease of reading, the Flesch readability level is 50.8, which is probably more reasonable; a fifth grader can probably handle that level. Here's an explanation.

My point? Most people, once they leave school, if they don't go on to college, read on about a 4th grade level. Jones' English only-crap might as well be in a foreign language. Idiot.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi