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May 13, 2004

Ehrlich says multiculturalism is “bunk”

by Erik Kojola, Page Editor
This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from The Washington Post.

Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. made statements this week saying that the idea of multiculturalism is “bunk" and immigrants should assimilate into American culture.

On a Baltimore talk radio show, Ehrlich voiced his opinion that immigrants should learn English and adopt American culture. “I reject the idea of multiculturalism. Once you get into this multiculturalism crap, this bunk, you run into a problem. With respect to this culture, English is the language. Should we encourage young folks here to be assimilated, to learn the culture and values? Of course," said Ehrlich, who was quoted by The Washington Post.

According to a Takoma Park Gazette article on May 12, Ehrlich refused to answer calls for him to apologize for his comments and continued to defend his position. Meanwhile, on May 11, the Montgomery County Council unanimously voted for a resolution that expressed concern about Ehrlich’s “ill-chosen remarks" and suggested that he apologize.

Ehrlich’s strong statements came after state comptroller William Donald Schaefer made similar comments in regards to dealing with Spanish-speaking workers at fast-food restaurants. “I don’t want to adjust to another language. This is the United States. I think they ought to adjust to us," said Schaefer, according to The Washington Post.

However, Ehrlich’s comments have received more attention and outcry, particularly from Hispanic political leaders. Maryland State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, an immigrant from El Salvador, was angered and worried by Ehrlich’s comments. “I think what the Governor said absolutely is offensive. It’s also a dangerous comment. What I am sensing is that these kinds of comments from leaderships, from people who are in high-level positions, are really fueling an environment that is very dangerous and negative," said Gutierrez.

Ehrlich’s policies have shown mixed attitudes towards Latinos and immigrants. Last year, Ehrlich vetoed a bill that would allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Maryland public universities. On the other hand, he permitted a study on allowing illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses to continue.

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  • CB on May 13, 2004
    Ehrlich is absolutely correct. How is it "dangerous" to state the truth?

    If you live in the United States, you need to learn English and American values/traditions.
  • anon on May 13, 2004
    That is horrible!
  • Bob on May 13, 2004
    What an idiot. Typical republican, "you can do it whatever way you want as long as it's my way". The reason this is such a great country is that we tolerate different beliefs and cultures.
  • Kimberly on May 13, 2004
    I think that his comments were wrong, but I do believe that workers should speak english at restaurants, stores, theatres, etc. I speak French and Creole, but I don't expect people to adjust to me. I think that he was wrong because immigrants who speak poor english don't do it on purpose, there is a language barrier that they are hopefully trying to break down.
  • Marisol on May 13, 2004
    Multiculturalism is many cultures together, not not speaking the national. You can have a home language and be multicultural and still speak the national language. What is Ehrlich takling about?
  • ar sophomore on May 13, 2004
    You all misunderstand Governor Ehrlich's comment, because our racially sensative society wants to frame indirect references to culture and nationality in terms of race. Ironically, it is this tendency that moved Ehrlich to utter those fateful words in the first place. Our governor is irritated that everything is framed in the context of diversity and multiculturalism, frustrated by the fact that multiculturalism has now became both an end and a mean unto its self.

    Now I disagree with what the governor said, but it does bring up a very interesting question: can we take multiculturalsim too far? Can it be overvalued? Has it been overvalued?

    And most importantly, are so we uptight a society when it comes to race that anything even distantly or even potentially racist is seen as the bigoted rantings of a "typical republican"?
  • erhlich is right on May 14, 2004
    what are you talking about? that made no sense at all.
  • and what on May 14, 2004
    hey if you want to live here then adjust to what we do. giving ILLEGAL immigrants drivers licenses is INSANE too. they are ILLEGAL. Takoma Park full of a tree hugging bumbling idiots who hugs trees when they arnt protesting to save some exotic endangered bug. get a grip and stop being so sensitive. i HOPE this offends you, you se cular humanists who need lives
  • hmm on May 14, 2004
    Just cause a bunch of people don't agree with him doens't mean he has to make a public apology...
  • sophomore on May 16, 2004
    If we accept many different religions in this country, why shouldn't we accept different cultures? I want to know Ehrlich's reasoning.

    But it also scares me, personally, that there are those who refuse to even learn English. They are making themselves incapable of giving back to society. I certainly think that immigrants should learn English and vote.

    Bob, I take huge offense at what you said, distilling Ehrlich into a label of "typical Republican." It's obvious that you have your own prejudices and that you don't "tolerate" Republicans. I am a Republican. Should I assimilate into your beliefs, or am I OK with my own?
  • Nicholas Stone (View Email) on May 16, 2004
    It's interesting that the Washington Post, one of our nation's best newspapers, can run a story with the sentence "Ehrlich's policies have shown mixed attitudes towards Latinos and immigrants" and hear not a word in complaint. The Post article offers the following two policies as examples of its assertion: vetoing in-state tuition and exploring the granting of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. How are either of those evidence of a "mixed attitude" toward Latinos? Is the Washington Post so cynical, or so hamstrung by ideological bias, that it can only understand Governor Ehrlich's proposals to deal with the problem of illegal immigration as the products of racism and prejudice toward Hispanics? It's possible to have a principled opposition to illegal immigration (and the ethnic separatism endorsed by many advocates of "multiculturalism") without recourse to bigotry, and the Post's refusal to recognize this fact does a disservice to its readers.
  • erik kojola (View Email) on May 17, 2004
    In regard to the comments of Nicholas Stone the article was written by me, a high school student at Blair, not The Washington Post. Only facts and quotes have been compiled from the Post. So your comment on the sentence should be directed towards me, not the Washington Post.
  • antichrist on May 17, 2004
    Hey, and remember when you're getting all offended, if they don't learn our language, we gotta learn their's (unless we completely segregate them somehow). So someone's gotta change. How about the people who think this place is good enough to come here?
  • marisol again on May 17, 2004
    I believe all people need to learn english in this country. My family came from Morocco, and it took them along time to get U.S. citizenship, and they had to learn english, they had to and they wanted to, its kind of like an obligation the way I see it. Illegal immigrants are probably most likely not to speak the national language because they didn't have to go through the whole immigraion process.
  • Luke on May 17, 2004
    Bob, as a liberal myself, you embarrass me. Nick, the Post doesn't have an ideological bias. It's about as impartial as journalism gets in these times of increasing conservativism in the press and I'm sad that you can't see that. All writing is inherently biased, but neither the Post nor Erik has done anything but report on what has happened. Didn't you read the part where Erik wrote that Erlich refused to respond to people trying to get him to say sorry? I'm not saying he does have to say sorry, but if he refuses to meet the opposition or comment for a news story, then it's hard for a writer to portray his side of the story. Same thing happened with Gainous vs. Weast earlier in the year. Weast wouldn't say anything, so the story came out with Gainous' mark on it. Not Silver Chips' fault, not the Post's.
  • and what is right on May 18, 2004
    hehe-love that :) tree hugging bumbling

    if someone comes here to live, they take in American culture. they left their other country voluntarily for one of many reasons, often because they didn't like it. now, if they just want to complain about everything, fine, it won't do any good. but to say that Americans should instead learn the language of the country that the immigrant came from, that is not right. as soon as someone arrives in America, they need to learn the language and learn how to act American.
    i second ehrlic's opinion that American culture is being disregarded, and the huge multicultural presence is taking over. I agree with the idea of allowing anyone who wants to be an American to come here. but those who come, for no other reason than to complain when they get here, and want to keep things how they were in their country, they should either leave or not come at all.
  • Ceni on May 18, 2004
    It is a fact that the Latino population will double and exceed the amount of any other ethnic group in the U.S. by the year 2020...
  • Lisa (B-CC '04) (View Email) on May 18, 2004
    "they need to learn the language and learn how to act American"

    Since when does acting "American" imply speaking English? The United States has no official national language.
  • Alina on May 19, 2004
    The official language of the United States is english, and people that move here should learn the national language. I will admit that I loose my patients when I am some place in a hurry, and I am slowed down unnecessarily by a worker with a strong language barrier. I know that they dont do it on purpose, but it gets on my last nerves.
  • Nicholas Stone (View Email) on May 19, 2004
    My apologies to the Post...I misread the opening disclaimer on this article. I am still curious, however, as to the meaning of the last paragraph in this article. In what way does opposition to illegal immigration imply "mixed attitudes towards Latinos" ?
  • Andrew on May 21, 2004
    I disagree with Ehrlich, but I also agree that his comments do not necessarily warrant an apology. He did not say that he hates all Latinos and thinks they should be deported, he said he thinks immigrants to this country should learn english and take part in American culture. And they should. Learning English, besides making it easier for others to deal with you, makes it easier for you yourself to get by.

    The idea of multiculturalism, on the other hand, is definitely not "bunk." While English is an important part of american life (By the way, it is NOT the official language of the US, simply the primary language used nationally. There are no federal forms and procedures that are required to be in English and English alone...I did an essay on this :-P), that doesn't at all preclude people from maintaining their own culture personally, in their families, and in their communties. As someone said, that's what makes America great. It's just that language has nothing to do with it.

    Also, even the extreme liberals must admit, anyone in a service industry (such as serving fast food) SHOULD be able to communicate with others in English. The person is simply not qualified for the job otherwise; if you can't communicate with the average customer it's not going to work. There are plenty of jobs that do not require English interaction with customers that recent arrivals might take while learning.
  • NINA on May 23, 2004
    I believe you wrote an excellent article. It's making people think. That is something people don't do these days.Multicultural education is seen as education that teaches the value of cultural diversity (Slavin, 2003, pg.117-8.)
    The United States is a multicultural nation inhabited by millions of people who speak more than one language. Eventhough English is the dominant language it is not the first language of many native-born citizens. And English is not the official language of The United States.I believe that we all could use being educated on this issue.If the role of education truly is to produce a better society, then the teacher must accept the responsibility for this huge undertaking (Morgan, 2001.)

    Morgan, Richard (2001) Eliminating Racism in the Classroom

    Slavin, Robert E. (2003) Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice
    Allyn & Bacon Pearson education Inc.

    Bonvillain, Nacy (2003) Language, Culture, and communication (4th ed.)
    Prentice Hall Publishers New Jersey
  • Pheona on June 7, 2004
    multiculturalism is not all about language.
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