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Wherein I Stand Accused of Language Imperialism
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In June, at General Assembly, we're going to have a day (or evenings?) of service, along with the usual workshops and worship services.

This last weekend at District Assembly I took the workshop to prepare for the particular task I am going to perform, along with about 20 other people. In June we are going to assist Legal Permanent Residents with their applications for U.S. citizenship.

As is typical of all federal forms, the application is long and complex and daunting. Our job is to talk with the applicant and enter the information into the appropriate sections, then review it with them, and have them sign it.

During the training for this task we were advised of the requirements for citizenship, which include English and Civics proficiency.

However, there are exemptions from the English proficiency requirements:
*Age 50 years old, 20 years resident LPR, interview in native language.
*Age 55 years old, 15 years resident LPR, interview in native language.
*Age 65 years old, 20 years resident LPR, shortened test in native language.

I protested that anyone who had lived in this country as a Legal Permanent Resident and wanted to become a citizen should speak English. Their age shouldn't excuse them from the requirement. BTW, is this a form of ageism?

I firmly believe that a common language is what binds us together as a people, as a nation. If we can't talk to each other, how can we understand each other? How can we work for the common good, toward common goals?

I was told that I was a language imperialist; that I should learn Spanish or get out of the way. Spanish-speaking people were here first, and we should be speaking Spanish.

I said that I speak 5 languages; that I have lived in other countries and learned to speak their language because I wanted to participate fully in the activities around me and communicate with the people who lived there.

I expect the same of people who live in this country (regardless of how big the immigrant population or arguments about who was here first) and I don't understand the exemptions. How can you live in a country for 20 years and not speak the language, except to live in an isolated enclave, not really part of the larger culture or polity. How can you know what the issues are and be an informed voter if you're not even part of the society?

I has hammered into the ground for being an insensitive racist. I was told I should speak Spanish and learn to love it. No one should have to learn English; it should be the other way around.

From the way I'm going on and on, you can tell I was upset--and still am. Obviously, even UUs have "right answers" to which everyone is supposed to subscribe.

Then in the mail I get the information for the California Presidential Primary Election and on the back it says that the information is available in English (well, that's nice) and Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.

This is voting material, for citizens.

Something very similar is true for applicants for California Driver's Licenses. The test is available in a bunch of languages and for people who can't read, there are provisions to take it orally.

No wonder our republic is fractured and fractious.

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