Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Officially English IV

This evening will be the second reading, the public hearing, on CM Eric Crafton's bill before the Metro Nashville Council to make English the official language of our government business.

I'm still fully in favor of this bill. I have always been. But my recent reading of a book by Bruce Bawer called "While Europe Slept" solidified my thinking. I would hope that between the heated rhetoric councilmen will hear this evening and the 3rd and final reading every councilman will take time to read this man's testimony of what he has seen occur in Europe. Mr. Bawer left the US with his partner to what he 'knew' would be an freer, enlightened, more tolerant Europe that would allow them to live in peace. What he found instead was a Europe that shockingly, did not match those expectations. The governments there bent over backwards to be accepting, accommodating and "welcoming" to use Mr. Cunza's term and what they got was a fragmented citizenry that turns a blind eye toward the reality of the seething resentment just below the surface and occasionally boils over in dangerous ways and denies, publicly, that there is any problem at all . Instead of finding a free, open and diverse society he discovered discrimination, ghettoizing and violence. Mr. Bawer's book pleads with the US to be smarter and learn the lessons that Europe can teach us.

One of the strengths of the US is that we have been a melting pot. That means that while we celebrate our heritages we embrace this new one of "from many one"--not the other way around. Language is essential to ensuring that we maintain that unity. There are legitimate practical reasons to have English as the official language and there are essential cultural reasons to do so.

Previous posts on this issue:

Offically English where I point out that in 1984 Tennessee declared English our official language and reminded folks that according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service legal immigrants must prove proficiency in English. And just this week they have amended the test for citizenship to ensure that these applicants understand our form of government and don't just parrot the right answers. I also ask folks to consider the liability that will occur when we mis-translate something. Keeping our official business in one language is much more cost effective and efficient. Keeping a cadre of linguists on hand will add expense and opportunity for error that could have terrible unintended consequences.

Officially English II included clarifications from CM Crafton about his intent and included a graph of the Tennessean's online poll which showed respondents were 89% in favor of his bill.
This morning's City Paper's online poll is nearly identical:

Council immigration plan
Do you support the Metro Council resolutions intended to crack down on illegal immigration?
89 89%
11 11%
This poll is not scientific and reflects the opinions of only those Internet users who have chosen to participate.

Clearly, the citizens of Nashville (and it's the opinion of citizens that the Metro Council should be most concerned about) want something done about illegal immigration. This English first bill is a small first step.

Officially English III included the wording of CM Crafton's revised bill along with some comments on the first hearing in the Council chambers.

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