Friday, June 8, 2012


I get mighty tired of the anti-immigration crowd, who cloak themselves in opposition to illegal immigrants but who don't make much in the way of fine distinction between those who are legal or illegal.  On the whole it's a matter of whether they speak English or Spanish.  Seems like Russian speakers don't engender much antipathy. 

Anyway, amongst their crusades of righteousness is English Only.  The idea here is that English is the lingua franca, always has been and always should be.  The fact that English Only flies in the face of equal access seems to be of little concern.

So, I'm reading Franklin and Marshall College's alumni magazine for Spring '12.  There's an article about the goings on in the soon to be US (ok, it already was, but pre-Constitution) in 1787, the year of the founding of Franklin College.  Here's some interesting information from that time.

"The mission of Franklin College was to educate the German youth of central Pennsylvania and help in the diffusion of 'knowledge through every part of the State, in order to preserve our present republican system of government, as well as to promote these improvements in the arts and sciences which alone render nations respectable, great and happy,' according to the petition put before the General Assembly of Pennsylvania."

At the dedication ceremony for the school the program was printed in English and German.  The college's first "principal" delivered his address in German, while a professor of English delivered his address in English.

It's nothing new that immigrants have come to this country not speaking English.  But Franklin and Marshall set the right example from its inception in trying to make those immigrants into full, functional citizents of a society governed by elected representatives.  Today's English Only and Know Nothing crowds are only interested in marginalizing immigrants to keep them from taking American jobs, as if American were limited to only those born here.  Shit, most of these Know Nothings know so little they ought not be allowed to vote, but for the illegality of poll tests.

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