Here’s a gem: http://tinyurl.com/28bpoth
Lino Lakes (Minnesota) City Council Member Dave Roeser would like to make English the official language of the city of Lino Lakes. Now, this kind of idea is nothing new—it pops up on local and national fronts with a fairly wearying regularity. However, it’s Mr. Roser’s reasoning that really caught my attention this time. Even though, at the moment, only around two percent of Lino Lakes residents actually need city documents translated, he’s thinking about the future cost. You heard that correctly: He views this idea as good financial planning, since, as he states, “things are changing.” That’s right, and we all need to get ahead of the discriminatory curve.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. I’m going to assume that Mr. Roeser is authentically concerned about his community, but just hasn’t thought through the implications of the policy he’d like to implement. See, he’s worried about the future cost of translating all the requisite documents into who knows how many languages. But what’s the real wealth in a community? Is it just actual currency? Or is it the sense of connection and belonging of those who make up the community?
If we accept the latter choice, then this sort of policy actually has the opposite effect. It’s true that Lino Lakes, as a community, is going, inevitably, to become more diverse. Therefore, shutting off the connection and sense of belonging of a growing percentage of the community is going to create a deficit of what truly matters if a community, of whatever size or composition, wants to thrive. Communities do need to plan for the future. But if it’s a future that doesn’t include and respect all the voices of the community, no matter what languages they’re speaking, it really ends up looking more like the past.