Sunday, January 11, 2009

English Only in Nashville, TN

The "English Only" movement expects a shot-in-the-arm from a special election in Nashville, TN, to require the city to publish all announcements and documents in English only. There are a few exceptions for health and safety. Most "English-only" cities are relatively small. If the measure is voted in, Nashville will be the largest jurisdiction with such a law. The natural alliance in opposition -- civil libertarians, immigration advocate, academia and the churches -- are joined by the local Chamber of Commerce. Such an ordinance would complicate business as usual, but also be a disincentive to new businesses moving to Nashville. There also is the tradition of tolerance and liberality that gives Nashville the title of "Athens of the South." Proponents argue that the annual cost of making official documents and announce available in other languages amounts to over a $100,000. Yet the special election will cost three times that. Also the argument that by some mysterious way liberality on the language issue is costing real Americans their jobs in a tight economy only goes to show that nativist sentiment and solutions have historically accompanied hard times in this county. (See NY Times article.)

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