Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Further Insight into "English Only"

According to a story in today's Tennessean, the recent attempt to make English the only allowable language for official government business in Nashville was almost entirely funded by an outside group: ProEnglish of Arlington, Virginia.

For those that didn't follow the story, when the deadline came to report fundraising for and against the amendments in the special election, the side in favor failed to file their report. It now seems that we know why.

Furthermore, the fact that the English Only effort was almost entirely funded by sources outside the state helps explain why Eric Crafton, the Nashville Councilman who sponsored the amendment, was so nonchalant when it failed. 

According to the Tennessean story, Crafton was contacted by this nativist special interest group who wanted to use Nashville as a test case and were willing to fund the campaign in favor of the effort. He put the wishes of this special interest group ahead of the needs of the people of Nashville who elected him. 

Some estimates have put the cost of the special election on these amendments at over a quarter of a million dollars. This money could have been better spent improving Nashville's schools or funding efforts to help immigrants better assimilate into the community.  How many ESL classes could that money have funded? And yet Councilman Crafton thought it would be better to spend Nashville-taxpayers' money on a test case for a special interest group.

The effort against "English Only" helped motivate compassionate, progressively minded people to get involved in local government. I hope that they will stay involved and that people who actually have the best interests of Nashville's residents, especially the immigrant population, in mind will run for seats on the Metro Council so that abuses like the one Mr. Crafton was all too happy to enable do not happen again.

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