If you don't speak English, don't bother coming to Nashville!
Issued on: Modified:
Next Tuesday, Nashville, Tennessee could become the largest US city to ban government use of any language other than English. Civil rights groups, business leaders and even the local mayor are against the proposition. So how has the idea reached referendum level? Read more...
Next Tuesday, Nashville, Tennessee could become the largest US city to ban government use of any language other than English. Civil rights groups, business leaders and even the local mayor are against the proposition. So how has the idea reached referendum level?
Like most cities in the US, Nashville official business is currently not restricted to any one language, meaning that residents can communicate with the state in any language they have translation services available for, if necessary. Metropolitan councillor Eric Crafton however, has lobbied the local government for a referendum on restricting the choice to English only. He believes, after himself managing to learn fluent Japanese while in the Navy in Japan, that immigrants too should adopt the language of their host country. Although there are thirty states in the US with English as the compulsory language, all major cities provide translation services. Nashville, known as the "Athens of the south" for its diverse population, would be the largest city to cut these. Crafton collected 5,500 signatures to warrant the referendum, which he says will unite the city's inhabitants and save money on translation services. But critics say the election itself is costing more than a hundred years' worth of the services, and will jeopardise the human rights of immigrant families and refugees. Crafton however, is not convinced. He hopes to spread the concept throughout the United States ("like a domino effect") where over 1% of US citizens do not speak English at all.
Speak Up Nashville
This video comes from the vote no campaign: Nashville for All of Us. Even Mayor Karl Dean speaks against the bill.
English Only across the States
Posted by "brooklynvanessa".
An anti-bilingual services T-shirt. Photo taken by "yourfavouritemartian" in Wildwood, New Jersey.
Posted by "social4lyf".
Similar feelings in Canada...
Taken in Toronto, Ontario. Posted by "eskimo_jo".
And even Japan...
Photo posted by Jason Combs.
"This is really an anti-Latino, anti-Mexican, anti-illegal immigrant bomb"
Carrie Weir is a US citizen of Cuban descent. She writes the blog Bilingual in the Boonies. She lives in Tennessee and runs a t-shirt business "savoring the flavor of Latino and Hispanic culture in the United States".
If you read the comments in message boards and on the local paper's site, you'll see this is really an anti-Latino, anti-Mexican, anti-illegal immigrant bomb. The proponents say we need a law to proclaim English is the language of the land. Well, it already is. (...) I think most of us who are not on anti-psychotics know that. Even the Mexicans who can't habla el ingles know that.
And proponents say we also need a law that bans translation services Nashville doesn't really even offer. Why? Well, because we really just want to point out really, really loudly and to the whole world that we're pissed about "those people.'' Like, really pissed. Pissed despite the fact that other than asking "those people'' to build our McMansions, mow our lawns and cook our fajitas, we don't really know "those people.''
And, proponents want to proclaim "English First" despite the fact our city is a major resettlement site for refugees. Plenty of "those people" who would be adversely affected by this amendment are here legally from countries in strife -- Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Cuba. How much would it suck to be a refugee plopped into the middle of a city that says "Suck it. Speak English or we can't help you. Yeah, yeah, you've been in some hell hole commie country, or you've been in a refugee camp for five years. Whatever. Didn't you have time to learn English before you got here?"
The ProEnglish movement and white supremacy
Nathan Moore is an attorney and conservative blogger from Nashville who has written extensively against the bill. These are some of the reasons he gives on his blog:
The group pledging resources to English First, the local group promoting the English Only amendment, is called ProEnglish. ProEnglish is an offshoot of FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform). Both groups were founded by John Tanton. (...) His group, FAIR, of which ProEnglish is a part, has been connected to various sundry groups. FAIR has knowingly accepted money from the Pioneer Fund, described by the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal as a 'white-supremacist outfit devoted to racial purity through eugenics'."