sending to immigrants about the connectionnbetween English languagenability and citizenship when we printnballots in other languages. The ballot isnthe primary symbol of civic duty.nWhen we tell immigrants that theynshould learn English, yet offer themnfull voting participation in their nativenlanguage, I fear our actions speak loudernthan our words.nWhile previous government policiesnonly required the use of foreign languagesnby government or public institutions,nthey now are moving to requirenthe use of other languages bynprivate citizens. In a recent federalncourt case, the US Justice Departmentnsubmitted a brief arguing that privatencitizens collecting signatures to placenan initiative question on a state ballotnhad violated federal law because theynhad not printed their petitions innSpanish.nAll these things indicate the extentnto which the traditional recognition ofnEnglish as our de facto official languagenhas broken down. The “official”nstatus of English that was assumed bynthe founders of LULAC can no longernbe taken for granted.nAs a nation, we must reassert ourndesire to retain the role of English byndeclaring English our official language.nAs a nation of immigrants, made up ofnpeople from all corners of the globe,nwe share no common race, religion, ornethnic background. One importantnbond that we do share, however, is ancommon language.nOur history has taught us that ifngovernment holds fast to our traditionnof English as the official language ofnthe United States, then newcomers tonour nation will respond to this incentivenand learn our common language.n•LIBERAL ARTSnARBITER OF ACCEPTABLEnOPINIONn”I can’t think of any writer more certainnto have exactly the right opinion onnabsolutely everything.”n— Thomas M. Disch on Gore Vidal innThe Washington Post Book Worldn46/CHRONICLESnIf, however, we continue to duplicatenevery government document, brochure,nor booklet in a multitude ofnlanguages, and grant further officialnrecognition to an immigrant’s nativentongue, we may be destroying thenincentives necessary to bring peoplenquickly into the mainstream of Americannsociety.nStanley Diamond is the actingnchairman of US English. He wasnformerly a special assistant to SenatornS.I. Hayakawa, the founder of USnEnglish, and led the successful effortnin 1986 to pass Proposition 63, whichndeclared English the official languagenof California.nLETTERSnGnawing Awaynat Vidalnby Bill KauffmannWe do not live in a golden age fornhomegrown and corn-fed radicalncritics. Legal restrictions on politicalnspeech remain few, but informal stricturesnand the passage of time havenmuted those who remember—and liken—the free, landed republic that thisncountry used to be, before World WarnII and the monolithic Cold War statenthat it bore. We are an empire today, thenantipode of the virtuous agrarian societynthat our forefathers envisaged.nWoe betide the independent man,nunbeholden to university or think tank,nwho speaks these truths. Whether leftnor right, blueblood or wetback, dullardnor high wit, the foe of empire invites thenpillory. He’s gonna get creamed.nEnter Gore Vidal.nNo public figure in present-daynAmerica takes a more brutal thrashingnfrom the Arbiters of Acceptable Opinionnthan Gore Vidal: novelist, essayist,nacid celebrity. Although his work, particularlynhis remarkable chronicle ofnAmerican history (Burr, Lincoln,n1876, Empire, Washington, D.C.), isnwildly popular with the middlebrownaudience, Vidal is vilified by the “vitalncenter,” that loud and puissant band ofnCold War liberals and Pentagon-nnn”J hate the American Empire, and Inlove the old republic,” says polemicist,nessayist, and historical novelistnGore Vidal.nobsessed conservatives.nThese attacks have all the subtlety ofnthe commode flush. For instance:n— The New Republic branded anVidal essay on Israel’s US supporters,nnotably the polemicist NormannPodhoretz, as “brazen racist hate” andnpronounced the essayist “ready for thenfunny farm.”n— National Review labeled thatnsame essay “anti-Semitic screaming”nby an author who “enjoys a specialnimmunity as an avowed homosexual.”n— Irving Howe of the socialist journalnDissent found the disputed essay “anracist diatribe.”nThere is more, in the same vein, butnyou get the gist. Vidal has offended allnthree pointy-heads of the regnantnAmerican political triangle: thenManhattan-Washington-based neoconservatives,nthe Manhattan-Washington-basednNew Class conservatives,nand the Manhattan-Washington-basedncorporate-state socialists. In short, thenpower elite.nWhy the Vidal-hatred?nLet us first dispose of the obvious,nand wholly unsatisfactory, explanation:nhis open homosexuality. Vidal has nevernconcealed his taste for inversion;nindeed, he published The City and thenPillar in 1948, at no small risk to hisn