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Government and Politics – Cultural Purification and Discriminatory English Only Laws

Cultural Purification and Discriminatory English Only Laws

With continued diversity, stemming from immigration into the United States, the languages spoken here are continually transforming. Cultural misunderstandings and a lack of education on multi-lingualism have caused injustices inflicted on entire groups of people. Historical ideologies on what a “pure” American language should be has resulted in discriminatory “English Only” laws and other programs aimed at “cleansing” the American culture.

The language debate can perhaps be traced to John Adams’ proposal to the Continental Congress in 1780. The nation at that time was very culturally diverse. “It was commonplace to hear as many as twenty languages spoken in daily life” (ACLU). Adams however, made a proposal to the Continental Congress that would significantly effect this diversity. His call to, “purify, develop, and dictate”, usage of the English language would have placed stringent restriction on the employment of any other languages beside English. Another of our Founding Father’s myopic views on language and culture, discriminated against the German immigrants in the United States at the time. Benjamin Franklin, in the middle 1700’s, feared the German influence could, “supersede Anglo supremacy, not only in language, but in terms of culture and political values” (NCBE). Thomas Jefferson espoused similar worries in 1803, in regard to the French in the Louisiana Territories. The prevailing view each of these Founding Fathers held was fear, propelled only by opinions that the immigrants would not be able to understand, and therefore not promote, “American values”.

The middle to late 1800’s, saw other immigrant groups face like discrimination. The Know-Nothing Party, which was started in the 1850’s, upheld anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant views. This ultimately led to language restrictions being placed on them. Due to English literary requirements, Chinese immigrants were, “attacked, barred from employment, disqualified from owning land, not allowed to vote” (NCBE). Laws restricting use of German in many public schools were also passed. One’s culture and ideas becomes apparent through language. The distrustful leaders at the time though, were fearful of anything other than “pure American values”, and language therefore became the avenue by which they chose to promote this purity. These historical efforts to “cleanse” the American language have no doubt contributed to feelings on language purification by politicians today.

The effect of our nation’s history of cultural ignorance has led to the creation of proposals that are damaging to those not yet proficient in the English language.

Alcohol and the Causes of Student Binge Drinking

Causes of Student Binge Drinking

We’ve all heard it before: “Too much of anything is bad for us.” The amount of binge drinking occurring on American college campuses today proves that college students do not heed this warning. Binge drinking, or drinking for the purpose of getting drunk, harms both drinkers and non-drinkers alike. As today’s college students come dangerously close to being swept away in the sea of papers, exams, jobs, and interviews, they use bingeing as the lifeboat that allows them to escape the stress. It allows them to forget their worries, fit in with the crowd, and live on the edge in a fast-paced world that normally does not leave time for such activities. Teetering on the brink of adulthood, yet still trapped in childhood makes drinking decisions difficult for many college students. A desire to get away from our usual lives because of societal regulations and conformity, psychological and emotional problems, and the stress of everyday life causes college binge drinking.

The need to conform to societal norms set by peers leads to college binge drinking. Over the years, drinking has become a popular pastime for college students. A study conducted by Dr. Katherine C. Lyall of the University of Wisconsin defined binge drinking as “five or more drinks in a row one or more times during a two week period for men, and four or more drinks in a row one or more times during the same period for women.” Lyall’s study, in which 145 colleges from 40 states participated, found that 84% of all students drank during the school year. It also found that 44% of all students were binge drinkers, and 19% binged three or more times within a two week period (Lyall). Students feel the need to drink in order to fit in wit…

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… well as those surrounding him or her. Societal norms, psychological and emotional problems, and stress all contribute to binge drinking. These factors should not be excuses, however. Today’s college students are capable of finding a legal and safe lifeboat that keeps them from being sucked under the waves of daunting college pressures.

Works Cited

Addeo, Edmond G. and Jovita Reichling. Why Our Children Drink. Englewood Cliffs:

Prentice Hall, 1975.

Hamilton, Cheryl. Communicating for Results. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1997.

Lyall, Katherine C., PhD. “Binge Drinking on American College Campuses.” August 1995. October 14, 1998. (available online).

North, Robert and Richard Orange, Jr. Teenage Drinking. New York: Collier Books, 1980.

Rouse, Ewing. Drinking. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1978.

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