Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr.
Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. calls English Only a “step backwards.” The Tennessean‘s Michael Cass has the whole story here. Here is an excerpt:
We are considering discriminating AGAINST peoples’ culture and nationality with this proposed amendment. At a time when our nation has shown tremendous growth by electing the first President of African Descent, we can not afford to take steps backwards.
Hat tip: Kleinheider
Mayor Karl Dean
Mayor Karl Dean is “strongly against” both charter amendments. The Tennessean‘s Michael Cass has the whole story here. Here are excerpts:
I am strongly against these charter amendments and I want you to join me in voting against English Only and Amendment No. 2.
First, let me explain what the English Only amendment is not. It is not a vote on immigration reform and it is not a harmless message to office holders. The proposed charter amendment will have absolutely no effect upon efforts to curtail illegal immigration or to reform current national policy. Rather than permitting voters to send a message to the government, the referendum alters our charter in a way that will create legal, political, social and even moral consequences for years to come.
To me, it is the antithesis of hospitality and an unnecessary drain on taxpayer resources. The issue is divisive and will distract us from doing those things that will help us realize our potential as not just a great American city, but a great international city.
Stephen Zralek, interviewed by the Nashville Business Journal as a “Rising Star,” was asked, “What does Nashville need to help retain and attract top young talent?” This was his answer:
First, to remain multilingual. Nashville is full of creative people from all over the world. We need to defeat the “English Only” measure because it’s wrong. It’s bad for our economy, and it sends the wrong signal about our city.
The interview is here.
Belmont University President Bob Fisher
“Sometimes you have to encourage people to think again about something that might seem right on its face, but on closer examination is not.”
The Tennessean reports that Belmont University president Bob Fisher came up with the idea of a joint letter to the editor authored by local university presidents. The resulting joint statement was published today by the Tennessean.
In the story describing the origins of the statement, Fisher describes as “special” his role within the university community:
“More and more, we view our jobs as being CEOs of the university, but when you do that, it’s like a pastor seeing himself as CEO of his church,” Fisher said. “When you do that, you give up some of the special stuff that goes with being part of a university community.”
Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry
Lipscomb president L. Randolph Lowry echoed the importance of leadership on this and other issues:
“Sometimes you have to encourage people to think again about something that might seem right on its face, but on closer examination is not.”
Read the full Tennessean story here.
“As academic leaders, we are concerned about the impact – literal and symbolic – on our mission”
The presidents of nine of Nashville’s most respected institutions of higher learning – Aquinas, American Baptist, Belmont, Fisk, Lipscomb,
Meharry, TSU, Trevecca and Vanderbilt – submitted the following joint statement to The Tennessean in opposition to English Only:
In just a few short days, county residents will go to the polls to decide the fate of the “English-only” amendment that has been proposed for our Metro Charter.
This is not the first time that this proposal has been before the democratic processes in our county. A previous attempt to enact this legislation was halted by the courageous veto of former Mayor Bill Purcell. We have also seen current Mayor Karl Dean stand firm in his opposition. Both of these leaders saw the passage of this legislation not only as unnecessary but as damaging to Nashville.
It is especially important that the higher education community in Nashville be heard on this issue. It is the obligation of institutions of higher education to help their communities think critically about important issues of public policy, especially when the policies have a deep and lasting impact on these communities.
Read more here or at the original Tennessean link. Continue reading
Charles W. Bone
“You can’t imagine how many CEOs I’ve spoken with who say they would have chosen to relocate to another city had this proposal been enacted when they came to Nashville.”
On behalf of Nashville law firm Bone McAllester Norton PLLC, Charles W. Bone issued this statement in opposition to English Only:
Our attorneys have decided that our firm should be on record to oppose the English Only charter amendment that is on the ballot in Davidson County in January. As such, we are the first law firm to publicly denounce the English Only measure, which makes me very proud.
Nashville is a world-class city that speaks many languages. We are a center of learning, government, religion, business and entertainment. English Only hurts Nashville’s values of stewardship, safety, tolerance and hospitality, not to mention our economy. You can’t imagine how many CEOs I’ve spoken with who say they would have chosen to relocate to another city had this proposal been enacted when they came to Nashville. Continue reading
Rabbi Shana Goldstein Mackler
Standing up against English Only, Rabbi Shana Goldstein Mackler of The Temple invokes Yom Kippur and “the opportunity to acknowledge a wrong and to do something about it:”
One of the most beautiful reasons I am proud to make my home here in Nashville was that this is a City of Refuge, a place where immigrants come for safety, freedom from persecution and degradation, and for a chance at a better life. We all know people who have been welcomed by this city, who have been sponsored and cared for by our citizens and our community. Still, despite the fact that research on immigration into Nashville shows immigrants wanting to learn English, wanting to acculturate, wanting to become citizens, fears and stereotypes of foreigners abound.
This fear has enabled and engendered a piece of legislation that flies in the face of who we are as Jews, as Americans, and as citizens of Nashville: the English-Only initiative that is on the special ballot calling for a vote this month. Continue reading
If Jesus came to Nashville speaking Aramaic, this item might appear on a few Christmas lists.
In a Christmastime letter to the editor of the Tennessean, Nashvillian Karl Warden considers Jesus’ native language of Aramaic and poses this question:
Would you require Christ to speak English if Christ came to Nashville?
Read the entire letter here.
Photo Credit: Gwendolen Cates
Irish-born Nashville singer Maura O’Connell will canvass door-to-door against English Only, reports Beverly Keel of the Tennessean.
O’Connell told Keel:
I don’t know that there was such a difficult time given to those people years ago as it is now. The younger generation will always learn English and assimilate.
Read the Tennesseean story here.
O’Connell’s singing career spans a dozen albums and includes appearances with artists such as Dolly Parton, Van Morrison, and Rosanne Cash.
O’Connell was also cast by Martin Scorsese in his 19th century epic The Gangs of New York. She played the role of an immigrant street singer.
My name is Helia, and I work for the Tennessee Foreign Language Instititute (TFLI). I started teaching languages in 1992 – first teaching my native language German at Berlitz and later teaching as a private tutor, which was more fun and more profitable.
I started working for the TFLI in 1997 and I have taught German (and later ESL) ever since. It was not until I took the TESL course in 2001, however, that I wholeheartedly started to enjoy teaching. The TESL training replaced my ‘pick-and-choose’ approaches with a solid foundation to foster learning success. I have since developed several Professional Development Courses for ESL and foreign language teachers based on the principles of TESL.
As a long time ESL instructor, teacher trainer, and court interpreter, I have met and continue to meet countless amazing people who do their best to learn English while working several low-paying jobs and facing tremendous odds. Continue reading
Coalition for Education about Immigration
The Nashville-based Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI) has launched its web site at http://educationaboutimmigration.com/
CEI explains its origins here:
In 2006 anti-immigration rhetoric was intensifying in the Nashville community. Myths and misconceptions about immigrants and immigration along with corresponding vitriolic conversations seemed to be proliferating on national and local radio talk shows. An idea that originated in the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jewish Federation in 2006 expanded to a series of exploratory meetings with immigrant advocates, including members of Conexión Americas and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). Discussions that ensued led to the formation of the Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI). From the onset, the founding members of CEI believe that when provided with accurate information, the Nashville community will draw reasonable, educated conclusions of their own. What began with a concern of a half dozen community members grew, in a short time, to a grassroots membership of nearly 300 individuals and more than a dozen loosely affiliated organizations.
CEI has also published this PDF with background information on English Only.
The litigation to block the English Only special election, which was brought pro bono by local attorneys David Randolph Smith and Sean Lewis and unaffiliated with Nashville for All of Us, was rejected by the Tennessee Supreme Court on December 11. This means that the special election will happen as scheduled.
For more information about this specific case and the reasons the attorneys took the case without pay, and for information about ProEnglish, the national group backing English Only in Nashville, click here.
In this post opposing English Only, local radio host Mary Mancini of Liberadio cites statistics showing English usage among Latinos:
Research indicates that 98% of Latinos think it is “essential” that their children learn English. In fact, 80% of foreign-born children from Mexico learn English “well” or “very well,” and 92 percent of second-generation Latinos are fully fluent in English. By the third generation, only 28% of Latinos are still proficient in Spanish. (Migration Policy Institute).
The full post is here.
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) and the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (TAPIT) sent a letter to Mayor Karl Dean in which they strongly oppose English Only. Here are excerpts:
We strongly oppose the Nashville charter amendment because it is a dangerous and misguided initiative. Proposals of this type can, and have created severe and confusing barriers, not only for limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals, but also for government officials, resulting in denial of equal access, equal protection, and basic human rights.
We in NAJIT and TAPIT work daily with speakers of other languages, and we know that most of them have a strong and sincere desire to communicate in English. They do not willfully avoid speaking English out of stubbornness or spite; they recognize the value of being able to converse with the broader society in its own language. If this initiative passed, Nashville will be the only major city in our country to have an English-only law. It is unfortunate that those pushing for this divisive ballot measure have not focused their energies on the creation of better facilities and opportunities for learning English.
Early voting on English Only starts January 2 and the special election starts January 22, but if you are an eligible Nashville/Davidson County voter and you won’t be in town, absentee voting is an option.
More information is available here:
and the form to request an absentee ballot is available here:
Conservative husband-and-wife bloggers Nathan and Sarah Moore are writing that English Only is unconservative:
Ah yes, half a million dollars to potentially pass a nonsensical law. Why don’t we pass a referendum against quartering troops in peace time, or one that declares slavery illegal. Maybe even get so bold as to lobby that half a million dollars be spent on classes teaching English to immigrants.
Why should the taxpayers of Nashville pay $300,000 for a special election on January 22 simply to send a message to immigrants letting them know that they are not welcome here? That’s great for business and our place in the global economy!! Of course immigrants should learn English. Integration into our English-language society is best for everyone involved. But, why should we purposefully make the process difficult for them, especially when English is safely written into state law as our language?
Come on, conservatives! Let’s send a message that we really are opposed to government waste, both in terms of money and unnecessary laws. Vote against English Only next month. It will be a step in the right direction that we desperately need.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
From the Tennessean:
Nashville business leaders should take up the fight against a proposed city charter amendment that would declare English the official language of the city and ban the city government from providing services in any other language, Mayor Karl Dean told Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday.
Speaking at a gathering of members of the chamber’s Partnership 2010 economic-development initiative, Dean said that requiring the city to stick to English in all of its dealings would “negatively impact” efforts to lure foreign companies to the city.
“I’m opposed [to the amendment],” the mayor said. “It is the antithesis of hospitality and a drain on our resources.”
Read more here.
From a letter to the editor of the Tennessean:
I find it a little hard to imagine that Tennessee has become so homogenized it wants to spend the money to have an “English only” ballot. It seem a sharp contrast to the foundation and makeup that comprises our country. I really don’t think that Emma Lazarus omitted in her poem engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” (but let them only speak and read English).
Read more here.
The Executive Committee of the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Ear Foundation has joined Nashville for All of Us. The committee issued this statement:
As the leadership of an organization that works closely with hundreds of men, women, and children who interact through interpreters, we oppose the characterization of interpreting services as a burden and would not want to see Nashville become a community in which diverse methods of communication are viewed with suspicion.
Experienced and knowledgeable speakers are available through Nashville For All of Us to present information about why it is critically important to oppose the English Only resolution and/or to train and activate interested organizations to campaign against it. Presentations can be tailored to your organization’s needs and can address a variety of topics related to the conversation about immigration. For information about speakers and/or to arrange for someone to speak to your organization contact …
The Nashville Peace and Justice Center was featured in this Channel 5 story for reaching out to local residents about English Only:
The small group of volunteers hopes to make a big difference one phone call at a time.
“To alienate any group of human beings is completely wrong,” said Krystal Kinnunen-Harris.
“Nashville doesn’t need to be a place of persecution,” said Stephen Mallett.
Read the story and watch the video here.
Phil Michal Thomas recently appeared in the “Tennessee Voices” section of the Tennessean and had this to say about English Only:
Nashville’s economy has grown, with several foreign-owned businesses opening offices…. If this charter amendment is passed, not only will it be unlawful to transact official business in a foreign language, it may also jeopardize the existence of the larger employers.
Has Davidson County considered the legal ramifications of passing this “English-only” initiative in regard to Title VI or Title VII? Can we afford losing a vast amount of federal funding due to being in clear violation of the federal statutes? The election is already costing taxpayers at least $300,000.
Read the entire piece here.
The Nashville City Paper interviewed Ann Gillespie of ProLingua and asked her about English Only:
“I do not foresee a Nashville community that would stand by and allow immigrant neighbors struggling with English to be denied help because they couldn’t learn the language at the snap of the councilman’s fingers,” she said.
Read the full article here.
Nashville for All of Us has officially moved to Facebook – the group is called “Nashville’s Moment Is Now” (click here to join).
There are other great Facebook groups opposing the English charter change, and the “official” status of Nashville’s Moment Is Now doesn’t take away from the wonderful things going on elsewhere. Some of those groups are very active and have grown even larger than Nashville’s Moment Is Now, so check them out:
The idea of the growing Facebook community coalescing around the issue – no matter the group – is to inspire and activate Nashvillians to vote AGAINST the English charter change.
We all believe that Nashville’s moment is now.
Bishop Richard Wills, the bishop of the Nashville Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church, recently sent a pastoral letter to congregations in Middle Tennessee about the English Only referendum. Bishop Wills invokes the Season of Advent as he urges congregants to “provide a welcoming, hospitable community for God’s people.”
The pastoral letter is available in full at FaithLeadersforAllofUs.com
For invoking the fall of the Roman empire and for using language like “overrun with legal immigrants,” local councilman and English Only proponent Eric Crafton has appeared in the national blog Hatewatch (“Nativism in the News”).
Hatewatch is written by the staff of the Intelligence Report, an investigative magazine published by the Alabama-based civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center.
The backers of the proposed amendments use the term “English First” – but the accepted term is “English Only” – for example, it is the preferred term used by Wikipedia.
Which term is right? “Only” or “First”?
One objective measure is whether the word “only” or the word “first” appears in the proposed amendment in Nashville:
English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions which bind or commit the government shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards, and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law.
Another measure is whether the word “only” or the word “first” appears on the web site of Nashville English First:
It is important to clarify that although there are many languages spoken in Nashville, only one – English – is authorized for official government actions and communications. Having one language as the official language avoids arguments and potential lawsuits over the meaning of translations, costs less than using multiple languages, and treats all other languages the same instead of favoring one immigrant group over another.
“Only” is an objective, descriptive adjective used by the very proponents of the measure.
See also this page from FaithLeadersforAllofUs.com
Dozens of local religious leaders have joined to oppose the referenda, in a group calling itself Faith Leaders for All of Us:
As religious leaders in Nashville/Davidson County, we have watched with interest and concern the movement to establish English as the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville. … We come from a variety of religious traditions, but we are united in our opposition…
Click here to visit the full site: faithleadersforallofus.com
Michael Vine tells this story of his father’s change of heart on English Only:
I was surprised to learn that my own wise, learned, and well traveled father once supported English Only. Predictably, he saw this proposal as a fair reaction to illegal immigration. Fortunately, my father was, in his words, “blessed” with an experience that drove him to denounce that simple resolve.
Click here to read the entire text of Michael Vine’s story.
Nashville for All of Us has launched its web site at www.nashvilleforallofus.org
There’s a lot to do between now and January 2. Two early tasks for which volunteers are needed are (1) developing written refutations of the latest talking points at the proponents’ web site, and (2) coordinating volunteers. If you have an interest in volunteering, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
A lawsuit has been filed against the proposed English Only charter change. This litigation, which has been covered by local media and raises Constitutional challenges against the proposed Charter amendment, is not affiliated with Nashville for All of Us. For more Information, click here to visit the plaintiff’s attorney’s web site.