Angling anew for the votes of the conservatives who dominate the Republican presidential nominating process, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas contended Monday that elitist liberals were trying to undermine American values in the nation’s schools and other cultural institutions.
“The keys to our unity are under attack from our government and from intellectual elites who seem embarrassed by America,” said Dole, whose front-running presidential campaign has recently lost some momentum, in a speech in Indianapolis to the 77th national convention of the American Legion.
He demanded an end to multilingual education, thereby edging himself into the growing immigration debate, which has become a major element in the campaign.
“Insisting that all our citizens are fluent in English is a welcoming act of inclusion, and insist we must,” he said. “We need the glue of language to help hold us together. We must stop the practice of multilingual education as a means of instilling ethnic pride or as a therapy for low self-esteem or out of elitist guilt over a culture built on the traditions of the West.”
Somewhat in the same vein, Dole also condemned history courses that heavily emphasize national shortcomings, particularly past treatment of minorities. In particular, he criticized the “sanitized” National History Standards proposed by a federal study group, saying they “glorify other cultures” and are part of the government’s “war on traditional American values.”
“They disparage America and disown the ideas and traditions of the West,” he said.
The senator said affirmative action programs constituted reverse discrimination that “no amount of tinkering” could correct, a political dig at President Clinton’s contention that affirmative action needs only minor corrections.
“It was never supposed to be permanent,” Dole said. “We know it has failed. Let’s stop dividing Americans by race.”
Then, repeating an earlier campaign assertion that won him considerable publicity a few months back, the senator said the film, music, advertising and television industries too often are guilty of “marketing evil.”
“It’s not for the good,” he said.
The senator warned that for the nation to “return as a people to the original concept of what it means to be American,” it would be necessary to debate subjects that “the arbiters of political correctness” would prefer not to discuss.
“Our diversity,” he went on, “requires us to bind ourselves to the American idea in every way we can - by speaking one language, taking pride in our true history and embracing the traditional American values that have guided us from the beginning.”
The several thousand conventioneers in the city auditorium, many of them, like Dole, decorated veterans who were wounded in World War II, responded with loud applause.