Monday, January 12, 2009

Against "English Only"

For the last few weeks, the proposal to amend the Metro-Nashville charter to mandate that no metro government business can be conducted in any language other than English has been, at worst, a local embarrassment. But recently the issue picked up national attention with a front page article in the New York Times, making this issue a national embarrassment.

For once, the official voices of the United Methodist Church are on the right side of the issue. Our Bishop, Richard Wills, has spoken out against the amendment, as have a number of pastors in the Nashville area. Jay Voorhees, pastor of Antioch UMC and master of the Methodist Blog Roll, has set up a website called Nashville for All of Us that explains why this amendment is a bad idea. 

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean are also against this amendment, and neither of them are what most of us would call "progressives".

If this amendment were to pass, Nashville would become the largest city in America to restrict government business to one language. It would send a message to the rest of the country and the world that Nashville is not a place that is welcoming or tolerant of diversity. Currently our city enjoys such a reputation, even though we are not in an area of the country where diversity is appreciated.

Perhaps even worse than the damage to our reputation would be the message that it would send to our own immigrant population, who already work extremely hard to integrate themselves into the Nashville community. I hope and pray that all thoughtful people that are registered to vote in Davidson County will make the right decision and vote against Motions #1 and #2 so that Nashville can continue to be welcoming place for all people.

No comments: