Monday, January 26, 2009

English Only provision defeated in Tennessee!

By: Phillip Arroyo

Nashville, Tennessee voters rejected a proposal to make English the mandatory language for all government business, easing fears that the measure could damage the city's reputation in regards to the exclusion of minorities and rejection of government services of all who do not speak english.

The proposed provision expressed, “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."

With 100 percent of precincts reporting early , unofficial results showed the "English First" proposal losing with about 57 percent of voters against it and 43 percent in support.

The city would have become the nation's largest to pass such a measure. Similar measures have passed elsewhere, though business leaders, academics, the city's mayor and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen opposed the "English First" proposal, which the governor has previously called "mean-spirited."

"The results of this special election reaffirms Nashville's identity as a welcoming and friendly city, and our ability to come together as a community," Mayor Karl Dean expressed shortly afterwards.

The referendum's leader, city Councilman Eric Crafton, had promoted it as a way to prevent expensive translation services.

"I support the collective wisdom of the voters. I am not going to bring English up again because the people of Nashville have spoken," Crafton said during a phone interview late Thursday.

The change that has risen in America in recent days has been so impacting and vivid that even the most conservative of states such as Tennessee are now evolving and accepting diversity as a pillar of our system of government. It almost seems as though a New Nashville has appeared!

"Old Nashville" is deeply Southern, conservative, fundamentalist Protestant and provincial. "New Nashville" is made up of largely progressive, and open-minded citizens. After taking a glimpse of the 2008 electoral college map, one will discover that it is not just Nasville , Tennessee , but the entire nation who seems to have become progressive and open minded!

Surprisingly, this truly historical event was never published or covered by the local Puerto Rico TV and written press. Our nation proved once again that it rejects any type of anti diversity or discriminatory agenda geared towards minorities in America. Historically, a similar process was carried out in regards to Puerto Rico's official language under the administrations of Governors Rafael Hernandez Colon and Pedro Rossello. Under Governor Hernandez Colon's administration Spanish was pushed to become the one and only official language of the United States territory. Later, during Governor Pedro Rossello's administration, English and Spanish were declared the dual official languages of the island. As a matter of fact, Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois attempted to amend the 1998 United States -Puerto Rico Political Status Act or HR 856 with a legislative "poison pill" by declaring spanish the official language of Puerto Rico. The amendment failed by recorded vote: 13 - 406, in the 105th Congress.

For years, those who oppose Puerto Rico to become the 51st state of the union have utilized weak and superficial arguments against any type of federally endorsed self determination process that would end the island's colonial and territorial current political status. Among the arguments utilized was the notion of the island's inability to become a state due to the great deal of American citizens of the island who do not speak english. Not only did this argument demonstrate extreme ignorance, yet it completely fails to acknowlege what are nation truly stands for. They seem to forget that America was founded by immigrants who professed the importance of diversity, brotherhood and unity. They seem to forget the fact that thousands, if not millions of people of diverse ethnical and cultural backrounds have been instrumental throughout the decades in shaping what are nation represents today.

Those who challenge or defer with my previous statement would only have to look at who is now our 44th President of the United States of America in order to come to grips with a reality check. The truth is that America has evolved into an even greater democratic nation. Sure, we have made some mistakes along the way, like having entrusted the path of our country's future in the hands of the past administration's wrong and uninformed domestic and foreign policy decisions. Nonetheless, it is the consistent perseverance and resolve of our hard working, multicultural and multilingual nation that guarantees time and time again that our United States of America and all that it stands for, remain intact for generations to come. Change has come to America! Let us all work together to embrace and bring this message to every corner of this great land of ours, including the enchanted island of Puerto Rico.