SC would like to take a moment to thank Geoff Nunberg for his reply to your host's review of Who Are We?. In reading through it, there are a couple of items that I realize merit clarification or amendment.
First, Prof. Nunberg writes:
And in his fourth and final post, gives a qualified endorsement to some of the symbolic measures that Huntington advocates -- a roll-back of Executive Order 13166, for example, which mandates the accommodation of LEP speakers for programs receiving federal funding (apart from the provision of emergency services), and an end to offering driver's licence tests in languages other than English.
As I originally quoted Francis Fukuyama, Huntington "makes no concrete policy recommendations". Later, when introducing the discussion of specifically Huntingtonian policies, I wrote that "the requisite policy prescriptions become, if not obvious, at least broadly visible". The specifics that followed, including the measures referenced by Prof. Nunberg, represented my interpretation of what Huntington would do based on the specific criticisms he leveled in each case. However, perhaps it could have been more clearly stated that nowhere in the book does Huntington explicitly state "E.O. 13166 should be scaled back", or specifically that driver's licensing should be conducted exclusively in English. Huntington's statements make these inferences eminently reasonable, but the specific leap from critiquing the status quo to prescribing policy solutions represents SC's best effort to articulate Huntington's solutions, and should not be considered quoting from the book.
Your host is also guilty of failure to check a fact, although it doesn't really affect the substance of either the position in question or Prof. Nunberg's reply. Prof. Nunberg correctly questioned whether or not it is in fact the case that "In most states [driver's licenses] remain exclusively the privilege of citizens". A distinct majority of states require social security numbers (or a good reason why you don't have one) to apply for licenses, which SC assumed to be a de facto citizenship requirement. In this case, your host was guilty of assuming that Social Security numbers were only issued to citizens; quite simply, that assumption was false, and he ought to have checked it. It doesn't affect the essentials of the point that was under consideration in -- that tying legal privileges to English was one way of accomplishing Huntington's goals without being overly punitive. I'm proud of the normal standards of writing here, though, and this was a lapse -- mea culpa.
Having addressed the questions of fact, there are a few points that Prof. Nunberg brings up which I want to elaborate on further. He correctly notes that I give "qualified support" to Huntington's program, which I have no reason to dispute. But the assumptions he lays out as underlying that program are ones which I want to address.
First, there's the assumption that "immigrants will learn English only if that becomes a means to attaining certain legal privileges and government services", and its attendant implication that "immigrants are too ignorant or lazy" to learn otherwise. I don't agree that requiring English to obtain government services carries such an assumption; important as driver's licenses may be in American culture, they're a privilege, not a right. While my license would be honored by many foreign governments for short-term stays, if I were to settle in a foreign country for a longer term, more than a few of them would require that I obtain a local license, and not many would show deference to my language needs comparable to the broad range of languages provided in California. Prof. Nunberg is of course correct that "making it harder for LEP residents to access various privileges and services doesn't impost a burden merely on them", but my support for Huntington isn't grounded in any sort of commitment to "realist" policies, foreign or domestic, so from my perspective, this isn't a terrible burden to bear.
Second, Prof. Nunberg criticizes the assumption "that a language learned for these reasons alone would be the vehicle for inculcating a stronger sense of identification of the national culture". Agreed, but largely because neither Huntington or I made the argument that learning English to obtain driver's licenses would make immigrants feel like George Washington was their first president, too. While both practical and idealistic motives are advanced in Who Are We? for supporting a commitment to English, I don't think Prof. Huntington anywhere confuses the two, and I don't believe I did, either. To the extent that the Creed might be thought of as a secular religion, and English as its equivalent of Latin or Hebrew, that's an argument for teaching the documents of the Founding in English (not to say a strong one), but not an argument for printing ballots or licensing examinations in English.
Finally, there's the "[presumption] that English itself can be the bearer of the values implied by the phrase 'Anglo-Protestant creed'". Prof. Nunberg criticizes this view as being the same kind of linguistic mysticism associated with Johann Herder, and again, I would agree if I felt this was exactly the position being embraced by either Prof. Huntington or myself. However, had the Constitution been drafted in Swahili, I suspect I'd be lining people up to learn that instead. The argument is valid insofar as the Creed can be expressed in any language, but I think both Prof. Huntington and I hold the position that English is relevant because it was, and remains, part of the broader historical context that the American Founding represents. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution aren't merely lists of principles, they're part of an ongoing conversation about law, power, and rights that extends backwards to Locke, Hobbes and Hume, and forward to Burke and Mill. Every one of those thinkers' works could easily be translated into another language, and cogently discussed in that format. English matters, according to the Huntingtonian view, not because freedom of speech (to give just one example) is innately an idea which cannot be expressed in other languages, but because our reasons for valuing that freedom are grounded in our embrace of English culture.
It is easy to imagine a culture which embraces peculiarly English/British thinking while carrying on its tasks in a non-English language; India demonstrates that this is not merely a matter of speculation. But it is more difficult to imagine such a culture free of strife among language groups, which India also demonstrates, and it is similarly difficult to imagine a transition from a largely English-speaking society to one primarily carrying out its business in some other language, at least not without considerable infighting. Considerations like these, combined with a belief that American principles are accepted in the United States in part because of their cultural context, lead Prof. Huntington to be concerned with preserving American culture as it exists, which includes assenting to its particularly WASPish origins. Ultimately, views on the desirability of this point are as much a matter of ideology and temperament as they are a matter of debating policy outcomes. Thus, while I share Prof. Nunberg's optimism that things are likely to turn out well in the long run, we're unlikely to reach common ground on the sort of symbolic measures that might be undertaken in the meantime (or whether they're even necessary).