February 29, 2008

My Marietta Daily Journal column today: Official English resolution to be reconsidered

Posted by D.A. King at 2:21 am - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

Below is my MDJ column today. I have added a few hyperlinks to educate the reader.

D.A. King: Official English resolution to be reconsidered

Published: 02/29/2008

By D.A. King
Guest Columnist

Some bad news: The United States has no official language.

More bad news: On Tuesday under the Gold Dome in Atlanta, a House Resolution that would allow citizens to vote in November on amending the Georgia constitution to make English the official language of state government failed to pass.

When you read that “things are changing in Georgia”, remember this one.

Because it deals with amending the constitution, pro-English Americans needed a two thirds majority, 120 votes, to allow HR 413 to move on to the Senate. The resolution fell 17 votes short of the minimum for passage.

The good news: Because a reconsideration vote was successful the next day, HR 413 will likely be voted on again.

It should be repeated, over and over: HR 413 does not amend the Georgia constitution to make English the official language. It merely allows the Georgia voters to make that decision at the ballot box.

When people tell you that things are changing in Cobb County, remember this: Five state Representatives from Cobb voted “no” on HR 413. When you are told that things are changing in the Grand Old Party, remember this: One of them, Judy Manning, is a Republican.

When the Wednesday vote to decide on future reconsideration was held, the same Georgia Representatives again voted “no”. Several Republicans from across the state did not vote at all.

A “new Georgia” indeed.

The legislators who voted to deny voters the opportunity to decide for themselves about English as a constitutionally official language says a lot about the current state of affairs in Georgia, and even more about what immigration – both legal and illegal – is doing to our state.

Despite the fact that we currently have a meaningless law – but not a constitutional mandate – making English the official Georgia language, the Associated Press reports that in today’s Georgia, the written test to obtain a Georgia driver’s license is given in sixteen languages. A number that is growing nearly every year.

Laws have been known to be ignored – immigration and employment laws for example.

Amazingly, for now, the 104 page manual to study for the test is only offered in English.

If you are wondering how someone who needs to take the driver’s license test in Russian, Spanish, Arabic or Laotian can study the rules of the Georgia road – in what is for them a foreign language (English), you are in a very large group. If you are thinking that it may represent a public safety hazard to grant a driver’s license to someone who can’t read the signs while whizzing past them on I-285, well…me too.

Be ready for the name calling if you lack the political correctness to remain silent on these concerns. Or what the financial cost will be when the sure to come demands that the manual be printed in multiple languages begin.

Besides the old stand-by epithets like (yawn) “nativist” and “xenophobic”, the fierce resistance to the resolution in committee meetings at the Capitol involved angry accusations that the English for government legislation is clearly – and I can not make stuff like this up – “ill-conceived”, “anti-immigrant”, “anti-Latino” “anti-refugee”, and among other equally mindless points, a “ploy” to get voters to the polls in November.

Apparently voters going to the polls is a bad thing?

My two personal favorite talking points on why the resolution should not pass are that amending the constitution to make English the official language of Georgia would be “divisive” – from Jerry Gonzalez of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and “mean-spirited” – from an editorial writer at the Atlanta newspaper.

The controversy also says a lot about the agenda of the business community.

While the most verbal and obvious lobbying against HR 413 is coming from the usual suspects – the open borders anti-English crazies in the ethno-centric activist groups who advocate for illegal aliens – according to many state Reps, the most effective non-stop pressure to vote “no” is coming from the business lobby.

Knowing English to drive in Georgia is one too many hoops to jump through for their imported foreign workers it seems.

Had anyone proposed such a resolution twenty years ago, not many doubt that it would have flown unimpeded through the legislature – right after puzzled legislators asked with more than a little incredulous curiosity why anyone would regard it as necessary.

Sadly, in 21st century Georgia, House Resolution HR 413 is now necessary.

We should all take a few minutes from our day to do what we can to encourage its passage.