Taboos We Can't Afford

Scripps-Howard News Service 10.30.01
Balint Vazsonyi

Last Wednesday, I had the honor of addressing 1,300 cadets, and their commanding officers, at the Virginia Military Institute. As well as a meeting with History, such a visit furnishes assurance that young people of excellence still are in plentiful supply.

The topic, "Being American," was decided upon last Spring. Little did we know that September 11 would endow the title with new urgency, or that some vitally important topics would emerge from the event.

Conversations with selected cadets over dinner and breakfast, preceding the address, and encouragement by the leadership, prompted me to throw caution to the winds and mince no words.

The first half of my speech was a standard discussion of what makes an American, ranging from founding principles, through George Washington's Farewell Address, to matters of language, independence, enterprise, religious tolerance, and the unparalleled willingness of our armed forces to fight for the freedom of others, expecting nothing in return.

But then, I went on to raise issues, considered taboo ever since the generation that came of age in the 1960s - apologies to the exceptions - imposed its destructive agenda on the rest of us, stifling all meaningful discussion.

Since my visit, it dawned on me that each of the three issues raised relates to the first principle of America's Founding - the Rule of Law, from which all freedom, prosperity, and success have sprung. That is why they bear repeating here.

First, we need to review the policy of multi-lingual education and, generally, catering to immigrants' assumed comfort, instead of requiring them to learn English as fast as they are able to do. The English language is not only the sole avenue to commonality but, significantly, carrier of our legal concepts and traditions which, for the most part do not exist in other languages. Without English, the immigrant will not comprehend what it means to be American. Far from being treated "with compassion," the immigrant is being prevented from becoming an integral part of our society.

This is especially true for Spanish speakers, for whose sake the "policy" (in truth a political agenda) was instituted. Spain has no legal traditions in our sense, consequently its language carries no hint of what the rule of law means. The peoples of Central and South America do not live under the law as we understand it. How are they supposed to adjust to their new home, if they are encouraged to live in Hispanic enclaves where Spanish remains at the center of existence, and if they are offered Spanish phone instructions, tests, even ballots?

The second taboo concerns the women's role, not only in the military, but in society as a whole. As one who grew up to marvel at the enormity of the women's contribution in building America, the damage inflicted upon society in general, and women in particular, by the feminist movement has to be reversed. Instead of building upon the true capacity of women, depicted in countless unforgettable movies in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and revealed through their monumental contribution during World War II, the feminist movement has rampaged through every institution and profession, forcing political appointments, as opposed to simply opening doors for appropriate applicants.

In this hour of national emergency, we can no longer afford such dislocation of assets and resources. Man or woman, people must be engaged in activities they are able and fit to perform better than anyone else. Thus we can return to the once-legendary American efficiency that had carried the day in so many arenas, before millions came to be employed in jobs - not because they were suitable, but to score political points.

Finally, we have to assist fellow-Americans who follow Islam to sort out their future. Their quandary is unenviable.

The Founding Fathers created a secular constitution, very much in congruity with their faith. That faith reflected all the trials, tribulations, self-examination, struggle, search for religious freedom and tolerance that highly enlightened citizens of the late 18th century had come to incorporate in their thinking. It is entirely unrealistic to assume that Islam, a comprehensive, religious world view, created fourteen hundred years ago half-way around the globe and never subjected to reexamination, claiming - among other things - complete judicial authority, can coexist in a person's soul with allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.

This renders neither Islam, nor the people committed to it, good or bad. It simply is a matter of fact that a person of the Moslem faith has to make an extraordinarily difficult choice - one which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Even The New York Times (10-22) and The Washington Post (10-27) acknowledge in major reports that truly religious Moslems cannot and will not embrace America. For them, America is a provider of bounties and opportunities, never "home sweet home."

Those who can make the soul-wrenching decision in favor of America should always be welcome. Those whose home is Islam, ought to live in a Moslem country.

All these are Rule-of-Law issues. Immigrants who continue to remain inside a Hispanic cocoon have a linguistic barrier to the Constitution. Feminists have an honesty-barrier to the Constitution. They invented the fiction whereby the U.S. Constitution deprives women of certain rights. That lie was needed in order to justify corruption of our legal system through the enactment of special rights for women - a true violation of the Constitution.

Finally, Moslems have a religious barrier to the Constitution. We can ignore these burning issues, and bury our heads into reports of successful bombing raids over Afghanistan. Or we can reopen the debates and shore up our national defense where it matters most:

At home.