Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Open letter to: MAURO MUJICA, Chairman, US ENGLISH

November 22, 2012

To: Mr. Mauro E. Mujica, Chairman
U.S. English Inc.
1747 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Mr. Mujica:

The English clergyman Rev. Frederick William Robertson (1816-1853) quite correctly wrote: "There are three things in the world that deserve no mercy—hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny." As a natural-born U.S. citizen with parents from Puerto Rico and raised in New York City, I believe, you, sir, are guilty of all three, and I intend to be merciless to you…both here and on the op-ed pages of the publication I founded 40 years ago in San Juan and continue to publish: CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

First, I fully understand you aren't promoting the creation of a new U.S. Language Police to keep people living in the U.S. from speaking anything but English. I fully understand that your organization and foundation feel the governmental units of the U.S. would function most efficiently if there were an official language for government. But as a businessperson for 60 years and a former executive director of the Puerto Rico Economic Development Administration, I speak from experience in saying there are many, many things that could be done to make government more efficient. Nevertheless, imposing an official language, something the founders of the Republic chose not to do, isn't one of those things…even though they heard many languages being spoken all around them.

But let me begin your indictment on charges of hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny.

Mr. Mujica, you are guilty of being a hypocrite.

You are a foreign citizen who took advantage of the generosity of the U.S. people and its government, which has always accepted immigrants, such as yourself, in their pursuit of happiness, to pursue your own. Like many millions before you, you left your country and culture of origin and came to the U.S. to enjoy the many benefits of being an American. However, you didn't have a right to immigrate to the U.S. Your hypocrisy is that you would make immigration less attractive and assimilation more difficult for others just like yourself by imposing English as the official language. Would it not have been more difficult for you to assimilate if every government poster, document, form and advertisement were only presented in English? This would be wrong at any time, but especially foolish when the U.S. needs all the foreign talent it can attract to maintain its leadership in so many fields.

The U.S. has been characterized as a "melting pot" since the days of Ellis Island, but I believe it has been, and continues to be, more of a stew pot, where the ingredients retain their shape and essence, but each is made more savory by the other ingredients in the pot. The same idea applies to people and groups; in the first generation here, they don't melt...they make America's cultural and civic life more interesting for all of us.

You seem to be intelligent enough to realize that the U.S. became the greatest country in the world because of its immigrants and, more importantly, achieved this without an official language. Immigrant Jews, Greeks, Germans, Italians and Spaniards all dealt with what our nation's Founding Fathers had left us in the Constitution without a problem. More than half the U.S. population speaks two languages, their original country's language and English, and this hasn't held us back from becoming the great nation that we are.

You presume to know more than our ancestors, who were intelligent enough to recognize that as a country of immigrants, the Nation wouldn't need an official language; they knew that ambitious immigrants would voluntarily learn English to achieve greater success, while retaining their native language and culture, enriching the young Nation's cultural life. You are a prime example of this, are you not?

Mr. Mujica, you are guilty of wanting to impose a tyranny.

You believe we can only progress as a Nation if we impose English on everyone—"on arrival." But I'm quite certain that when you migrated to this country, your English wasn't what it is today. You learned. Your position implies you might actually think that only you have the ability to learn.

I, for one, a Puerto Rican-born U.S. citizen raised in New York City, built a company from nothing…without any inheritance…a company that I took public and later sold to a New York Stock Exchange company. I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, including during the Korean War, and have lived in Puerto Rico for the past 42 years. I started another business here and now employ more than 500 people, the largest U.S. Hispanic-owned publisher of magazines and periodicals in the U.S. No one had to impose English on me. I knew I needed to learn it. But I can't imagine what my mother, who migrated to New York, would have had to face if everything would have been English only.

For another immigrant like you, who I would venture to guess hasn't served in the U.S. armed forces, to be trying to change the Constitution of the U.S. to impose English as the official language, would have you knowing more and possessing more wisdom than our Founding Fathers. You may be many things, but you aren't their equal, sir.

Your opinions are just that, Mr. Mujica, and my opinion of you is equally valid. Wanting to impose an official language on your adopted country's citizenry is arrogant enough. But wanting to impose your idea of a "pure" Spanish is the height of folly.

It was the immigrant Albert Einstein who said, "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Your unlimited stupidity in criticizing the Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico, undoing whatever impression you may have been able to make up to that point during your recent visit here, is only surpassed by your arrogance and linguistic tyranny. Or are you and your organizations also endorsed by Spain's Real Academia? Who made you the arbiter of language, which is in an exponentially growing state of fl ux worldwide due to the Internet and telecommunications? In 100 years, the world may be speaking a version of Esperanto, promoted at the beginning of the past century as a universal language, probably with more Chinese influence, though.

Mr. Mujica, you are guilty of being a fraud.Chairman

Therefore, if the logic and wisdom of your position is open to such criticism, one must wonder what motivates you in this misguided effort, and perhaps we've happened upon it. My reporters obtained a copy of your tax-exempt organization's federal tax return, and we see that in 2010, your organization had income from donations of $340,397; the previous year, income of $428,270.

But the most important number is that an astounding $195,357 went for salaries and employee benefits—57.4% of the income from donations. Could that be your motivation?

Rev. Robertson left out one of your vices, Mr. Mujica.

For that English clergyman, hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny deserved no mercy. But there is another evil that the Ancient Greeks, who gave us democracy, considered far worse. They believed ingratitude was not only a sin but the greatest sin one could commit, punishable by death. You, sir, are an ingrate. Fortunately for you, Mr. Mujica, you live in today's United States of America… not yesterday's Greece.

Manuel A. Casiano
Founder & CEO
Casiano Communications Inc.