Someone just forwarded me an email, purportedly a letter from a retired Colonel Harry Riley, which chastises a number of U.S. Senators for voting against an amendment to the immigration bill that would make English the official language of the United States. I really don’t know why they thought I would appreciate it. It makes me rather furious. Check out this quote:
“Your vote reflects Betrayal. Political Surrender. Violates Your Pledge of Allegiance. Dishonors historical principle. Rejects Patriotism Borders on traitorous action and, in my opinion, makes you unfit to serve as a United States Senator…….. Impeachment…….Recall……..Or other appropriate action is warranted or worse.”
Uh huh. Yes, voting against this amendment is certainly worse than attacking a sovereign nation under false pretenses, torturing prisoners, and illegally wiretapping the phones of U.S. citizens. That’s why these Senators should be impeached.
In my book, it’s not even close to that bad. It’s like the flag burning amendments that some people like to make a big deal about.
If you want to criticize people for voting against this, at least use a logical reason! For instance, part of the amendment states that the government would have no obligation to provide forms in languages other than English. I happen to disagree with that as well, but it would make more sense to me if the argument was that having extra forms translated and made available was not a good use of taxpayer money. But instead, we get an overblown, emotional statement about patriotism — which makes me think it’s more about the United States being a place for white, English-speaking people to live.
I’ve also looked up this letter on snopes.com (always a good idea for email forwards). Snopes lists this letter as “partly true.” Not all of the details in the email are correct. The letter I received refers to a 2007 vote; the one on Snopes references a 2006 bill. My email lists 32 senators who supposedly voted against this; Snopes has 35.
Frankly, I can’t find any proof that Colonel Riley actually wrote this letter. Apparently, the colonel does exist, but every instance of this letter that I’ve found was on some type of blog or forum site. I haven’t found it on any reputable news site, and the Snopes article doesn’t mention Riley at all.
The email makes the point that four of the listed senators are now presidential candidates, and that we should remember this when we vote.
Again, I just can’t see this as being more important than things like getting out of Iraq, staying out of Iran, health care, decent jobs, food for the hungry, etc. It’s not my top priority in choosing a presidential candidate — whether they voted for or against it. I’ll be putting more weight on other issues.
If you want to send me an email, make sure it’s about something real — and important.
UPDATE: See also my Associated Content article on this subject.