Battling the English-Only amendment will push back the fearmongers

4 Responses to “Battling the English-Only amendment will push back the fearmongers”


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  1. evenshine says:

    A few points to consider, from one who is considering the points:
    1. How do you propose we be united as a country without a unifying language?
    2. How is it disrespecting immigrants to ask them to join their chosen community- something that can only be accomplished with a common language?
    3. How does a nation “go forward” when there’s nothing impulsing us to do so?
    I agree that the councilman supporting this measure may have his own, personally motivated reasons for supporting it. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that those who are FOR it don’t have good reasons.
    As for getting “off our butts” as you say, why is it so much to ask that those who decline to speak our language (while never assimilating, while retaining the citizenship of their home country) do the same?
    Just some thoughts, definitely NOT motivated by fear or hate. My best to you and yours.

  2. Laura Feo-Fernández says:

    i see your points, and i do agree with them. however, the disconcerting thing about this is that they want to deny government services to these folks. many who come here are escaping a war torn country, a hostile regime, or are simply looking for a better life. are they supposed to be fluent when they come here? were they sitting around not learning english while plotting a move? my husband came here many years ago and did learn english, but it was a long process. even when he felt okay with his english skills to get a decent job and to just generally function, had the need arisen, he would have needed a translator to navigate areas that use highly technical language (judicial systems, various applications, etc.)–heck, i often feel i need one when filling out some forms, and i’m a native speaker!
    so, again, you are right–in order to exist outside of various ethnic enclaves (where original cultures are preserved, as they should be), english does need to be learned. my husband remembers talking to a friend who had been in the country twice as long as he who was irked when he went into a grocery store where the clerk only spoke english. my husband said to him “dude, you’re in the u.s.!”
    isn’t english already our official language?

  3. Carrie-in-TN says:

    Off the bat, my apologies, evenshine. I remember your points from the last post and I have no quarrel with a reasoned argument in favor of English First as a desire to help people move forward by acculturating. Our local discussion, however, has been dominated by fear and yes, hate.

    Of course, I believe all residents should speak English. Communication is a key to success.

    My argument is that this amendment does nothing to promote unity or encourage immigrants to speak/learn English. All it says is that business will be conducted in English only. It will deny information to taxpayers (and even illegal immigrants are taxpayers). English already is the official language of Tennessee so it already would be illegal to do Metro/council business in any language but English. Of course, federal law, and smart politics, means that you have to communicate health, safety in a language that can be understood by the citizen. That keeps us all safe and informed.

    The money for this special election, $350,000, could have been better spent on a public service campaign: “Learn English: Our country and your future, depends on it” or expanding ESL classes, providing childcare for those who want classes, free podcasts, cheap language-learning CDs and yes, encouraging our residents to reach out to newcomers.

    Refugees get just three months of federal support before they are totally cut off financially. Rare is the refugee who waits three months before going to work. How do we expect people to get fluent in difficult English in three months, or how quickly can we demand it of them when what they are doing is trying to survive/thrive?

    My entire K-12 years were conducted in working class, immigrant-dominant schools. My classmates either had parents born in another country — Cuba, India, Russia, Italy, Greece, PR, you name it — or they arrived young. My schoolmates, some who were born abroad, spoke English fluently and many did not speak the language of their parents’ homeland. The parents I remember spoke English fluently or with an accent, but the majority spoke English. The ones who didn’t were in Miami or were homemakers. My classmates, from what I have seen via reunions, are acculturated, to say the least.

    My own experience — and that’s what my blog is about — is that America’s culture is strong and it pulls us in, dilutes the past. I have shared here often how hard it is to teach my little one to speak Spanish and I have relatives who aren’t even trying. That’s first generation Americans.

    My fellow Nashvillians are unhappy about this sudden change that is in their face. Shortly, they won’t be able to tell the immigrant kids from their own.

    Will Nashville be changed forever? Yes. No doubt. But that’s the story of our country. Change.

  4. Chantel says:

    Ay, Carrie, I’m with you on this, and agree that the primary motivator for English First is fear of the “other”, regardless of what people say to the contrary. The truth is that many of these people who don’t espique de English, will have children who can’t or won’t speak Spanish, or whatever language their mom and dad speaks. It’s the slow burn of assimilation that happens eventually. And a law, no matter how indelible the ink in which it’s written, can’t force someone to learn a new language. I’d like to see the English First folks try to learn a new tongue. It isn’t easy, and I suspect that difficulty keeps people from speaking English, and not laziness, as is implied in most of these arguments. Rock on, mama. And I’ll light a velita for y’all on Thursday.

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