Posted on May 1, 2006
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) appeared on the Fox and Friends television program this morning to discuss immigration reform and the Senate resolution he introduced today affirming that statements of national unity, including the National Anthem, should be recited or sung in English. Text of the transcribed interview follows. Host, E.D. Hill: You say one national anthem, one language. Why? Sen. Lamar Alexander: Because we’re a nation of immigrants is the short answer. Because we’re a nation of immigrants, we need a common language so we can speak to each other. So we’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to make speaking English a part of being American. A hundred and fifty years ago, we created the public schools basically to help immigrant children learn to read and write in English and then hopefully to go home and teach their parents. In order to be a citizen in this country, you have to learn English to an eighth grade level. Last week, the Senate said: we’ll give you a year off the time it takes you to become a citizen if you learn English in a proficient way. So we value the English language. We shouldn’t be undercutting it. And surely we should be reciting our national anthem in our common language. Host, Brian Kilmeade: Senator Alexander, in this new national anthem sung in Spanish, thanks to interpretation, we now know that one of the lines is “we are equals, we are brothers, it’s our anthem” – kind of saying- hey – we’re illegal, and we’re working here, so give us some rights. Lamar Alexander: Well, that’s not the national anthem. The national is prescribed by federal statute just like the Pledge of Allegiance is prescribed by federal statute. The idea of the national anthem in some other language would be like Pledging Allegiance to the United States in Chinese. We value the countries we came from; we’re prouder to be Americans. Our common language is a part of what makes us Americans. Host, E.D. Hill: But does this show that there really isn’t that assimilation going on? Lamar Alexander: Well, E.D., yes – in a way. We have about 30 million people in this country who aren’t citizens. We have about 45 million who don’t speak English in their households. For us to be one country - unlike other countries who are united by race, or tribe or ancestry - we’re united by ideas. So we have to learn English, we have to learn our history, we have to learn our principles.