Letter: Our nation is better because of its diversity

Posted 7/23/20

I recently watched a few online videos of white, self proclaimed “true Americans” condemning others openly and publicly for speaking in their native tongue. These people who were …

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Letter: Our nation is better because of its diversity

Posted

I recently watched a few online videos of white, self proclaimed “true Americans” condemning others openly and publicly for speaking in their native tongue. These people who were being ridiculed, may or may not have been American citizens. That fact is not important in this discussion.

America is and has always been a melting pot of a vast assortment of nationalities and languages. These American English-speaking people were insisting that the English language is the one true language of America and anyone who lives or visits here should be  speaking English only. Think of the absurdity.

The one true language of America is actually the language of the indigenous people who inhabited North America long before the invasion of foreigners. Even then, there were hundreds of dialects. 

Christopher Columbus, who is credited with “discovering” America, didn’t speak English. He, according to history, spoke a version of Spanish.

Throughout the centuries since Columbus, America has become a melting pot of countless numbers of people from countless nations each bringing their own languages and cultures. The English language can be attributable to the English, Irish and others. But many others who left their homelands to start a new life in a new land brought a variety of other languages: Italian, French, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and countless more. The melting pot was a blend of tongues, cultures, and customs.

Is any one language or culture more worthy than another? Should every immigrant from every nation abandon their native tongue and be required to speak only English?

Sure, learn English to better exist in a land where that is the common universal language. But why should people be made to feel like they have to abandon their native spoken word and culture to better adapt to the “American” way of life.

To ridicule someone for speaking in their own language and insisting that they only speak English, is wrong.

My grandparents were from Italy. They came to America at the turn of the 20th century to start a new life. They worked hard and became proud Americans. But, they spoke Italian and little to no English. They were no less worthy citizens than any other English-speaking citizen. 

America is a melting pot made up of all different peoples, all speaking a wide variety of languages. To criticize a person based on the language they speak and to insist they only converse in English is so nonsensical.

I love diversity. Our nation is better because of its diversity. We are not a nation of one color or one language. We all have our strengths, and we all contribute to the betterment of America. 

There is no place here in America for prejudice, racism and feelings of superiority. Only when we all accept one another and not judge people on the color of their skin or judge them by the language they do or do not speak, only then will America return to its prominent place in the world.

Frank DiGio
Bristol

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.