CBS newsman Walter Cronkite resigned from the advisory board of a group that promotes government use of English only, and the former White House aide who is the organization's president says she may follow suit.
In a letter to U.S. English president Linda Chavez, Cronkite said he was afraid that an Arizona proposal the group supports could hurt minorities. The letter dated Oct. 6 was released by Cronkite's office in New York this week.Chavez, a former aide to President Reagan and U.S. Senate candidate in Maryland, also said she was considering resigning unless U.S. English chairman John Tanton steps aside due to a controversy over a 2-year-old memo she termed "repugnant."
In his letter, Cronkite said he regretted not being able to devote much time to U.S. English, but believed its use of his name in its campaign for a referendum to make English Arizona's official language "has proved embarrassing." The measure, Proposition 106, is on the November ballot.
Cronkite said he remained opposed to bilingualism, but said he "cannot favor legislation that could even remotely be interpreted to restrict the civil rights or the educational opportunities of our minority population."
He asked that his name be removed from U.S. English's letterhead and other organization material.
The Arizona measure would change the state constitution to designate English as the state's official language and forbid state and local governments from using foreign languages except when needed to protect safety and health.