Petition to Keep English as Primary Language
Netlore Archive: Email petition addressed to President Bush and others claims the U.S. is in danger of being 'conquered' by Spanish-speaking immigrants and urges the adoption of English as the primary language
Description: Email petition
Circulating since: Aug 2006 (this version)
Status: Likely ineffective
Analysis: See below
Email example contributed by Jack K., 6 August 2006:
Comments: The unseemly genesis of this document ought to make habitual signers of email petitions sit up and take notice. It began in May 2006 as a petition against granting Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants. The anecdote about the California teacher being turned down for a job because she didn't speak Spanish (which is unverifiable, by the way) was added a month later. A few weeks after that, the petition was rewritten to demand that English be kept as the primary language of the United States.
The object lesson is this: Many of those who added their names to the original petition became signatories of the revised version by default. The text was changed but the names were left intact. No doubt some of those who signed the first petition would have happily chosen to sign the second, but here's the thing: no one asked. What if the document had been altered to advocate a position completely objectionable to the original signatories? Unfortunately, there's no recourse once you've added your name to a chain letter. It takes on a life of its own.
I have said this many times, but I'll say it again: By their very nature, email petitions are haphazard, unreliable, and ineffective. The lists of signatories rarely reach their intended destination, and, when they do, are likely to be ignored because the same names turn up, unauthenticated, on every copy. If you want your opinion to count, write directly to your elected representatives instead.
Are immigrants a threat to the primacy of English?
Regarding the claim that Spanish-speakers in the U.S. intend to demand that all public facilities be staffed by bilingual employees, I could find no evidence to support it. On the larger question of whether or not the influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants in recent years poses a threat to the primacy of English, a recent study focusing on third-generation offspring of Hispanic immigrants in California found that they had assimilated linguistically just as rapidly as any other group historically. "People worried when the Italians and the Jews came to New York and when the Irish came before them," a co-author of the study was quoted as saying in the Houston Chronicle. "But the fact of the matter is... English is not threatened in the United States today or in the world."
Sources and further reading:
Petition to Deny Social Security Benefits to Illegal Immigrants
Netlore Archive, July 2006
Study Says English Is Alive, Well in the U.S.
Houston Chronicle, 14 September 2006
Study Finds Hispanic Immigrants Quick to Adopt English
New Mexican, 15 September 2006
Last updated: 09/18/06