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Proposition 63: Official Language

October 18, 1986

Your editorial (Oct. 3), "Wrong in Any Language," urging defeat of Proposition 63, is so flawed that it cries out for critique. Before doing so, let me explain that I was an immigrant and my grandfather too; he came to America penniless but learned English promptly and fluently.

The Times claims Proposition 63 insults the thousands of foreigners and immigrants who "help enrich the state culturally and economically." Isn't the reverse really true, the state having enriched the immigrants, or is there another reason why so many want to settle here? It is also claimed that California is "in the forefront of progress and change." Well, not in education, for one, which has deteriorated tremendously over the years.

Wouldn't our immigrants, and natives, be better served if we took all the money we spend on further isolating the immigrants via multilingual government services and spend it on bringing them into the mainstream via education in English and the social ways of the West? Why reinforce their "separate but equal" status?

Moreover, ever since World War II ended, English has been the international language, as the French relinquished by default this long-held honor. But The Times seeks to reduce an immigrant's need to learn this essential language--an idiom becoming increasingly important as time passes.

The Times' principally correct contention is that Proposition 63's language may invite lawsuits. But this is the fault of the law's language, not its intent. And if so, doesn't this alone indicate a greater need for us all to be fluent in English?

OLIVER BERLINER

Beverly Hills

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