Cronkite Quits English-Only Campaign Body

Associated Press

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, the CBS newsman said he is 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 on Thursday.

Chavez, a former aide to President Reagan and U.S. Senate candidate in Maryland, also said she is 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 that he regretted not being able to devote much time to U.S. English but that he believes 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.

Racial Conflict Memo

Cronkite said that he remains opposed to bilingualism but that 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.


Chavez said she has not spoken with Cronkite but believes that Tanton’s memo “gave him great pause, as it does me.”

The memo, written while Tanton was participating in an immigration conference, raised the specter of an America doomed to racial conflict between a minority of educated, well-off Anglos outnumbered by uneducated, poor immigrants consisting of other ethnic and racial groups.