Is it unreasonable to require that people who seek benefits from New York State be able to read English? Evidently, Andrew Cuomo thinks so -- and he wants you non-New Yorkers out there to help foot the bill for his cultural sensitivity. From the Buffalo News:
Twenty-seven state agencies will have to begin providing official forms and translation services in six languages beyond English under an executive order signed today by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. . . The governor did not provide an overall price tag for the program, which he said would be funded mostly by Washington; it will cost about $1.5 million annually for the state.
That's awfully generous of Andrew. The six languages, in case you're interested, are Spanish, Italian, Russian, French, French Creole and Mandarin Chinese. Italian? Really? In 2011?
In an earlier post from January, ProEnglish argued that making English the official language would cut the deficit. News like this seems to bear that out. But from my perspective that is not the main reason for making English the official language. The main reason is cultural -- in the age of multiculturalism, it becomes increasingly important for the state to declare that not all languages are created equal. If we don't have sufficient confidence in our culture to declare English the official language, then America has, indeed, gone "soft."
I'm not aware of any sound legal argument against Official English. The ACLU has a backgrounder disparaging the idea, but it is entirely devoid of legal reasoning. It simply asserts that English-language laws "stigmatize" immigrants. Well, indeed, all immigration laws "stigmatize" immigrants by making them jump through hurdles that a native-born citizen need not. That's life in the big city!