Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yet Another reason to make English the official language of America

Have you heard about the LA rioting over the shooting death of Manuel Jamines by police?  Jamines was an illegal immigrant from Guatamala, a day laborer. It's rather interesting.  Not in a good way mind you, but interesting in the fact that it seems to highlight a very real and growing problem.... America is loosing her identity, her culture.

Based on what I have read on the riots, it seems that residents in a Central LA neighborhood are outraged that this illegal immigrant was killed when he came after police with a knife raised over his head. It was a switchblade with a 3 inch serrated blade.  It seems police on bike patrol were stopped by a  neighborhood resident claiming that a man with blood on his hands tried to stab her and pregnant woman next to her.  According to the witness, she heard police tell him to put the knife down and then heard 3 or 4 shots. Jamines was killed at the scene.  (side note: the knife was covered in blood and they are doing DNA testing on it to try and find out whose blood it is)

An important point in this story, no not the fact that he was illegal, that is important but not the one I am getting at. The one I am getting at is the fact that the police asked him in both Spanish and English to put the knife down. Instead of putting the knife down, Jamines raised the knife above his head and lunged at Officer Frank Hernandez, a 13-year veteran of the department. There were 3 officers on scene. All were Latino and spoke Spanish as well as English.

So what’s my point? I actually have a couple. First, they asked him in Spanish and English. Second, as it turns out Jamines’ first language was a Mayan dialect and not Spanish.

How, you may be asking yourself, does this relate to America loosing her identity and culture?  Let me show you where that fits in; the reason for the riots. It’s not that this guy was killed by police, OK so maybe it was, but the residents are infuriated by the lack of sensitivity by police.
My reason for thinking this?  Take the comments of Mr. Salvador Sanabria.  Salvador Sanabria, executive director of nonprofit community group El Rescate, said that they (the police) could have used pepper spray or a Taser gun instead and that some (police) should have been trained in Mayan. Really?

Here is a direct quote from Sanabria:

“Sanabria said residents were already angry with the police over strict enforcement of public drinking laws and clampdowns on street vendors. The police department doesn't go after immigrants based on their legal immigration status, but Sanabria said officers still could be more sensitive.
They don't understand the complexity of the ethnic demographic population they have here," Sanabria said. He added that Jamines' first language apparently was a Mayan dialect, not Spanish, and said some police need to be trained in it.” (

So, police are trying to clean up the streets of this area and clamping down on lawbreakers. .. this seems to be a problem for the people in the neighborhood. Apparently, they like crime. They are “clamping down” on street vendors…..OK, so this is a problem because obviously they are clamping down on them for a reason. Quite possibly the Vendors don't have the proper permits or what have you so officers are making them get "legal".  Officers need to be more sensitive…yep, that’s what I want; soft sensitive police officers who would rather sit down for a tea party than take out a knife wielding man who already threatened 2 women and was coming after them.

Now back to my original claim of America loosing her identity and culture and how this relates.

The thing that struck me right out of the gate was the comment that the officers asked in Spanish and English. If America had an official language, the only language they would have had to ask in would have been English. End of story. Oh I know, just because English would be the official language doesn't mean everyone will speak it...if they were here legally they would be required to learn it and officers could ask in another language if they wanted to, but they wouldn't be required to as so many seem to be implying these days. Secondly, this Salvador Sanabria thought that some officers should have been trained in Mayan…really?  (see previous point)  Just how many languages will police, fire, medics, lawyers, judges, teachers, janitors, maids, or anyone have to know so that it will be fair? If America had one official language, then it would not be Americans that had to learn 100 other languages, but the immigrants coming into this country would have to learn English. Seems fair enough don't you think?

A country that is so diverse that it has no solid foundation is destined to fail. A country that does not have a defined culture is destined to fail. When we become so diverse that we have nothing in common, we will fail. When there is no sense of community or sense of what it means to be an American, we fail.
America is a diverse society; however, we must have a common thread among us.  We can have our own identities, but we have to have one thing in common; we must be anchored in our commitment to our country, to our language, our culture and our laws…. Otherwise, we fail.

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