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Oklahoma Doesn’t Need An “Official” Language

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Okay, let me see if I have this straight:

Lawmakers from the State of Oklahoma — which, I believe, was named using a Native American word for 'land of the Red Man' — want us, the great, God-fearing, general populous to make English our state's "official" language.

Impressive.

Despite the huge number of problems placed on our doorstep, members of the Oklahoma Legislature have, instead, spent the past legislative session trying to establish an official language for us Sooners.

An idea almost as stupid as the need for an "official" state rock-n-roll song.

But, since we're now walking this, we're-official-and-you're-not road, then we should pause, and consider our history.

Because there's official, and then there's historically accurate.

So, jump back with me a few hundred years before the State Capitol building had a dome; back when the wind really did come sweepin' down the plains.

Long before the Sooners and the Boomers. 

Long before David L. Payne.   

Long before the Run of 89.   

Long before the Run of 93.   

Long before this vast expanse of Great Plains and Red Dirt was ploughed, perverted, polluted, and paved.   

Long Before the French.   

Long Before Lewis and Clark.   

Back to the land of the real Red Men, the Native Americans.   

Now, if my memory serves me correctly, it is these people – the Native Americans – who can truly claim ownership of the 46th state.   

Yes, the Native Americans were here before we were.   Pretty much from the beginning. Not true, see the note at the end of this piece   I'm pretty sure they didn't speak English, Japanese, or even French. Instead, they spoke Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Seminole and Creek or some other Native American language.   

So, don't you think it's interesting that now, suddenly, there's a huge need for an "official" language?   And, don't you think it's interesting that this call for "official English" is being made in the state which is home to largest collection of Native American tribes in the country?   

Go figure.   

Despite our diverse, multicultural, many-languaged past, we're being told that we need an "official language."   

Sorry, I don't buy it.   There is no need for an official language.    

Go into any store – and I mean any store – in this state and there, you'll find someone who speaks English.  The same is true for any municipal office, state office building  or county courthouse.

Yes my friends, English, in the de facto sense, is already our official language.  Since our ancestors shafted the Native Americans, we've been speaking English (at least the American version of it) for more than 100 years.

We do it by custom.  And there's no need to legislate it.

Don't believe me?  Drive to Tahlequah and speak to a member of the Cherokee Tribe. Ask them if there is a need for an "official" English language.  Head over to Ponca City, Pawnee, or Anadarko, and ask the tribes living there if they think an "official" designation for English is necessary.

I'll bet you a large chicken fry (with the gravy on the side) the answer you'll get is 'no.'

So what's going on?

First, remember, people are frightened.  We're at war.  People are afraid, and they seek comfort in that which they see as "normal."  Second, the issue polls high.

It's not that many of those lawmakers pushing these ideas really believe in the necessity of a "official" language, but the simple fact is, the issue is a great way to score political points.
Just like the "debate" over illegal immigration, the English-as-an-official-language movement is nothing more than a smoke and mirror concept designed to generate attention for a few members of the Oklahoma Legislature.

The problem is most people buy it.

They're scared; they're concerned about losing their homes, or keeping their jobs, and some politico comes on television and tells them their problem isn't with mortgage bankers or a tough economy, but instead, someone of a different skin color.

I understand the concern about the issues, but I don't buy the rest of the argument.

Perhaps one of these days, the Oklahoma Legislature will collectively develop enough backbone to do the right thing. Maybe then schools will get the funding they need, teachers will be paid a decent salary, we'll get serious about improving our infrastructure, and we'll decide to do something to decrease the number of people in prisons.

It's a nice thought, but it probably won't happen.  Oklahoma lawmakers don't care about the   real problems Oklahomans face. Instead, they are more concerned about who speaks what.

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About M. Scott Carter

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    I’m beginning to think that lawmakers don’t have enough to do, so one of them decides to formulate legislation like this.

  • wdufkin

    I think the reason this is popular among voters in general is mostly due to fustration and the fear of change. People are afraid of the colonization of America by other countries. They resent 3rd generation immigrants who still do not speak English and also the educational costs to accomodate them.

  • Cannonshop

    Bored Politicians announce cosmetic measure to pander to their constituencies, generate some press, and invent a distraction from serious but intractable issues.

    Although, if Oklahoma does so, they might save a few bucks for a year or so by only having to print forms and ballots in one language.

    Right up to the point that a Federal court says “no”.

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