Thursday, September 08, 2005

Want your license? Get over it and remove the veil.

While I grew up in the USA, I am an immigrant just like millions of others. My parents learned to speak English and had pretty thick Italian accents, yet we always tried to fit in with the culture where we lived while still celebrating our Italian heritage. The two are not at odds with each other, nor for many ethnic groups. However, some immigrant ethnic groups think their “host” country needs to conform to their culture rather than the other way around. I am ok with that to a small extent. For example, when I was in college, there were days when certain classes were canceled because of one holiday or another (some of them religious). But there are some things that as an immigrant one just needs to deal with in order to fit in. You know, like learning the language of the country you live in and obeying the law of the land.

What prompted me to write this is the recent story of how a Muslim lady in Florida felt that she needed to be veiled on her driver license picture. The complaint being that it violated her religion to be shown without her veil. The Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld a prior decision that she needed to appear in her picture unveiled. This goes into the lack of common sense category. The whole point of having one’s picture on the State ID, License or Passport is so that somebody can verify that person’s identity. Nobody ever said getting a license was a right. It IS a privilege. If you want a license, you need to comply with all that goes with it. Otherwise, walk or take the bus.

The other thing that irks me a bit is having bi-lingual voting ballots. In Arizona, as I’m sure in other states, ballots are printed in both English and Spanish. Now, one of the requirements to vote is that one has to be a citizen. To become a citizen you need to have the ability to read, write and speak English. So why would ballots need to be in Spanish? I am bi-lingual and fully appreciate those who are. But, I don't expect the ballots to be printed in Italian. Nor should other ethnic groups. The other interesting aspect (which I just noticed) is that a Naturalized citizen should have a favorable disposition toward the US. That raises a whole set of other interesting topics for another time.

Bottom line is, if we had to cater to this extent for every ethnic group, it would be completely impractical. Tolerance of diversity and other cultures is a great thing. But swinging to the extreme in catering to every possible desire of a group is goes too far.



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