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Jewish World Review March 18, 2002 / 5 Nisan, 5762

David Limbaugh

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Consumer Reports

Discriminating against American culture | Whether or not you subscribe to Pat Buchanan's view that the West is dying, how can you deny that our society is becoming increasingly fragmented and balkanized? Why, then, does our government so often discourage, rather than encourage, immigrants from assimilating into our culture?

On August 11, 2000, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13166, which requires federal agencies and any other entities that receive federal funds to make their programs and activities "accessible" to non-English speaking persons. The order provides that entities that do not comply are guilty of discriminating on the basis of national origin in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Are you outraged yet? You probably assume that President Bush will just revoke this ill-conceived fiat and be done with it. But no. The order remains in full force and effect -- so much so, that a pro-English advocacy group (and others who come within the order's pernicious reach) is suing the Bush Administration to block its enforcement.

What's the big deal? Well, on August 16, 2000, the Justice Department issued guidelines to implement the Executive Order, which require all federal agencies and fund recipients to provide immediate translation and interpretation services to any person who is not proficient in English. Then, on August 30, 2000, the Department of Health and Human Services issued its own implementing guidelines.

The HHS guidelines require Medical providers subject to the order to provide, at no charge, (Limited English Proficient) patients, upon request, with translation services into any language. Otherwise, they'll be subject to a national origin discrimination complaint. Don't worry, if I were reading this, I wouldn't believe me either. But, sadly, it's true.

Some medical doctors are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. They've joined with ProEnglish, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of English as our common language, to seek an injunction against enforcement of the Order and the HHS implementing guidelines.

One of the plaintiffs, Dr. Anthony Bull, is a California anesthesiologist. He alleges that the government policies require him to provide translators inside operating rooms, and pre- and post-op areas -- at his own expense. Another, Dr. Clifford Colwell, is head of the Musculoskeletal Center at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif.. His clinic already provides translators for some languages, but the oppressive federal rules would require translation in all languages.

A third plaintiff, Joseph Daugherty, M.D., a family practitioner who himself speaks German and Spanish, is already burdened with treating Medicare patients at low reimbursement. He fears that adding translation costs would mean that each patient would cost him more than he would be reimbursed. Think about that: In effect, he would be paying to treat Medicare patients.

The plaintiffs are on strong legal footing. Federal Courts have consistently ruled that using English alone does not constitute national-origin discrimination. In one case, the Court went so far as to hold that an Employer's rule forbidding bilingual employees from speaking anything but English in public areas while on the job did not discriminate on the basis of national origin. If it is not discrimination to require speaking English in the workplace, how can it possibly be discrimination not to provide translators?

Don't get me wrong. These days, a court is liable to do anything. But that's not the point. Forget the legalities for a minute. Let's just be blunt. These kinds of do-gooder regulations are anything but good. They are tearing our society apart. And by discouraging foreigners from learning English, the do-gooders are doing them no favors either.

What kind of nonsense is it that makes people believe that it is healthy for this nation to discourage foreign cultures from assimilating -- from learning the language, from becoming a part of the unique American culture? How can rational people fail to comprehend that by destroying the unity of the American culture you will eventually destroy America itself?

Of course, it doesn't make sense, except to people who believe that western civilization and American culture are evil. It is patently ridiculous to make federal fund recipients provide translators for their clients. It is more ridiculous to make them pay for them. And it is even more ridiculous to say that if they don't, they are discriminating against people on the basis of their national origin.

You want to talk about discrimination? It's time for these do-gooders to quit discriminating against America, Americans, the English language and the American way of life. It's past time for the Bush administration to revoke Order 13166.

David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney a practicing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposť about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.