published Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Lawmaker lashes out at VW on English bill

NASHVILLE -- Efforts by a Volkswagen lobbyist Tuesday to state the German auto manufacturer's concerns about legislation requiring all Tennessee driver license exams be conducted in English had a Northeast Tennessee representative questioning if the firm was trying to strong-arm lawmakers into dropping the issue.

"That speaks closely to blackmail," snapped Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, who went on to say he didn't see the "logic" in suggesting "we would be less than hospitable by supporting the language of this country. ... This is a public safety issue."

The lawmaker's outburst came after VW lobbyist Mark Smith sought to refute testimony by pro-English lobbyist Eddie Garcia. Mr. Smith said it had caused him to worry lawmakers might erroneously believe Volkswagen, which is building a $1 billion plant in Chattanooga, supported the bill.

Mr. Garcia told members of the House Public Safety Subcommittee that a VW executive in Herndon, Va., informed him that all of the company's scientists, executives and researchers coming to Tennessee were bilingual and spoke English.

In response, Mr. Smith said "we don't quibble that making sure that matters like signs, which are currently tested, are sufficiently covered in the exam. What we would submit to you is that a one-size-fits-all, English-only, no-exception legislation is perhaps not the gesture of Southern hospitality that we think that companies looking to Tennessee are looking for."

He said "our angle is a matter of economic development," noting that states Tennessee competes with for large-scale investments do not have such laws. Tennessee now is trying to attract VW suppliers, some of them from Germany, to the Chattanooga site.

Mr. Smith said a VW executive had let Transportation Committee Chairman Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, and the English-only bill's sponsor, Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, know of VW's "concerns about this legislation; it is not acceptable to Volkswagen; Volkswagen has not signed off on the legislation.

"It is an appreciated gesture and one we would urge this committee to think perhaps more carefully from an economic development standpoint before you go down the road of sending a signal to the economic development community English should only be spoken," Mr. Smith said.

After Rep. Shipley's remarks, Mr. Smith offered his "regret" for having offended anyone and noted he was "not here to suggest that if this bill passes Volkswagen is going anywhere."

Before Mr. Smith's testimony, Tennessee Jobs Coalition Chairman Dan Haskell said the group, which is comprised of major employer groups in the state, opposed the bill. He noted legal, adult immigrants in the state may speak English but "may never learn to write and read well enough to pass" the written portion of the driver license exam in English.

The written portion is given in English as well as Spanish, Japanese and Korean.

Economic and Community Development official Lori Odom also objected to the bill and urged lawmakers to "consider the competitive disadvantage that English only puts Tennessee."

She noted three of the state's last $1 billion-plus investments are foreign-owned. That includes Wacker Chemical in Rep. Watson's district.

Rep. Watson, a lieutenant in the Bradley County Sheriff's Department, earlier was having none of it.

"This bill is going to put thousands of tax dollars back into our budget. Most of all it's going to make it safer. ... this is a safety bill," he said.

The bill passed the committee on a 4-1-1 vote. Chairman Dean abstained, which is in effect a "soft" no vote. Rep. Dean later voiced puzzlement over Rep. Shipley's outburst about implied threats.

"That's not the way I intepreted," he said, noting Volkswagen was trying to relate the "intangible" aspects that affected its decision to locate in Chattanooga and Tennessee.

In an e-mail to Rep. Dean, a VW executive noted that while the company's executives are proficient in English, VW "appreciated the state's decision to provide drivers' license training materials and tests in these executives' native language. Overall, we believe that this decision has provided for a more full and thorough understanding of the rules of the road."

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
KateT said...

This is asinine, most Germans are multi-lingual and if they prefer to take a serious, safety-related test in their native language, I as a driver on Chattanooga streets, say it should be accomodated.

March 10, 2010 at 10:29 a.m.
signalmtnman said...

Doesn't it seem safer to give non-English speakers the test and rules of the road in a language they understand? If they realize they can't pass the test because of their inability to read English, then they just won't get DLs, but they'll still be driving. I wonder what percentage of Tennessee residents can't read the English version in the first place?

March 10, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.
elvisd said...

You can be d--- sure that Germany or any other country does not hand out driver's licenses, citizenship, certifications for professions, and the like without something that demonstrates the ability to speak the language. I love how other countries want to live out various ideas of "freedom" vicariously through us that they would never allow in their own lands. Other examples: many of the countries that call our rather loose immigration policies "fascistic" are the very ones who are trying to clamp down on their own illegal immigration. Mexico does not give out drivers licenses to foreigners nor does it allow them to vote. There are "restricted zones" along their coasts and borders where foreigners cannot own land, but somehow we're these totalitarian monsters.

March 10, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.
waltripcrew said...

When I was in the service and before leaving to go overseas I took a test in english not the native languages for a international drivers lic. I would think that VW would work out some sort of program while the workers are still in Germany to get their international driver lic. Maybe civilians can't get international lic? No sweat all the Germans I knew/know are very good drivers.

March 10, 2010 at 11:43 a.m.
TNborn said...

wellllll - won't such a move as limiting safety testing to your "native" language move you into the 21st century? So long as Tennesseeans can maintain their purity and keep outsiders from integrating successfully into your 'pure' society, you'll stay behind the curve in growth and development - won't it be fun staying second-class for several more decades???

A goodly number of you can't speak the English language correctly and a large number don't even read this 'native' language well-enough to pass the driving test....

In the purest sense, it would be more appropriate to require that TN residents pass the test in the Cherokee language. But by gum! you'll keep them furriners from degrading your ways!!!! Martha Lou - get my shotgun!!!

March 10, 2010 at 12:13 p.m.
elvisd said...

very curious, TNborn. I'm actually multilingual, and quite eductated. If you were a little more educated, you might know that one characteristic of most successful modern countries is that they standardize their language, and expect their citizens to speak it. The best example that comes to mind is France. They were the first republic to virtually ban non-standard French from public discourse. This included historic dialects and languages such as Breton, Occitan, Alsatian, Catalan, etc. Or how about Piedmontese, a form of Italian? The Jacoban left considered this necessary to get France modernized and out of its feudal past into becoming a democracy.
Rather than a sign of primitiveness, as you assert, a standardized language is characteristic of efficient, modern states. It's the feudal, tribal, balkanized lands that fail to educate their citizenry towards a common language. A bit of comparative history and government will amend your ignorance.

March 10, 2010 at 12:28 p.m.
elvisd said...

Oh, by the way TNborn, Cherokee call their language Tsalagi. Just thought I'd educate you on that.

March 10, 2010 at 12:32 p.m.
rolando said...

International Driving Permits and foreign Driver's Licenses are recognized here.

Our Armed Forces overseas are familiar with concessions made by foreign countries to accommodate our troops IAW Status of Forces Agreements...essentially, we are exempt from driving requirements imposed upon their own citizens. Special, curtailed car safety inspection requirements, English-Only traffic tickets, US License accepted, etc.

We should be able to accommodate them, also.

Personally, I hope to sharpen my German usage. There is nothing so welcoming as a greeting/conversation in someone's native language.

March 10, 2010 at 12:42 p.m.
rolando said...

And we call it "Cherokee", elvisd. But then we speak English. [You come off a bit stuffy, there.]

Being the last person to criticize someone else's grammar or spelling, I found it amusing that of all the words you could have mistyped, you chose "eductated" [sic]. :o]

Perhaps the French elite chose one language [their own presumably] over the others for other than establish ascendancy, for instance. Especially if the various dialects, etc could understand each other.

March 10, 2010 at 12:59 p.m.
elvisd said...

Rolando- Don't think Breton, which is a form of Gaelic, is intelligible with Nicoise, which is a Romance language.

Don't mind being stuffy at all, as I am a member of the elite, which in a democracy means the electorate.

March 10, 2010 at 1:04 p.m.
rolando said...

BTW, elvisd, your comment re: standardizing language for modernization brings to mind the opposite example...the French-Canadiens forcing a two-language government on an English-speaking country. Bit of a backward step, least in your lights eh?

March 10, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.
rolando said...

Yet we are a Republic, elvisd. "Elite" has a different meaning here...not a particularly flattering one in most cases.

As you have noticed, I am not a linguist. In the Breton, et al, circumstance, that would be a definite unifying step.

March 10, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.
elvisd said...

I love Quebec, and thoroughly enjoy going there, but they are economically backward compared to the rest of the country. They take a disproportionate share of government largesse. June in Quebec City is absolutely wonderful. C'est la plus belle ville que jamais je n'ai vu. J'espere d'y vister encore.

March 10, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.
nurseforjustice said...

The only thing I am concerned about is drivers being able to read street and hwy signs.

I live in a neighborhood just off hwy 153. Truckers get are constantly coming down in to our neighborhood because they either can't or are not reading the signs that plainly state NO TRUCKS. I or some other kind soul have to go and stop traffic and help these guys get turned around to go the other direction. And it takes all the spanish I know to do it as well. =)

Otherwise I do not have a problem with them being able to take a test in their own language, especially with today's technology. That would seem to be a very easy thing to do.

March 10, 2010 at 1:29 p.m.
rolando said...

I gathered that much, M. :o} I have heard much of the province[?] but have never been over that border -- other than a short crossing at Niagara Falls.

I [very loosely] translate that as "It is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. I [wish? hope?] to see it again."

I found great beauty in the ancient cities of Greece, not so much in their present state as in the grandeur seen in the mind's eye. A few of the small cities and towns in Japan that escaped the bombings are also most beautiful. We raze everything here so we have few remaining ties to our past.

March 10, 2010 at 1:38 p.m.
ann said...

we are an english speaking country .let others learn and speak our language,their our visitors they need to speak english and learn our ways not the other way around

March 10, 2010 at 3:57 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

This is Eddie Garcia.

Despite the lobbyist from VW conjuring up his notion of what he may have heard for the record, I will post what I said.

I shared with the committee that a VW executive emailed me that all executives from abroad not only speak their own languages but speak fluent English as well.

As a matter of record, anyone can visit the video provided by the House committee.

As an American citizen, God didn't bless me by allowing me to be born in the US, but He did bless my parents with His strength giving them the courage to realize that the US was the only country where freedom was available (but not free) and where I would have a better life.

We came to the US legally and I respect and love this country. There were two things my parents realized needed to happen right away.

One was to find gainful employment as they were not in the US for a hand-out. Second was that we all needed to learn English and right away.

Eddie Garcia

March 10, 2010 at 5:53 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

Through hard work, dedication and not giving up, anyone can achieve success and greatness in the United States of America.

People forget that driving is a privilege and to effectively and safely exercise that privilege, one must understand, speak and read English.

There are too many signs on our roadways that deliver a message of information, warning or regulatory nature.

I strongly believe that if a motorist is allowed to take the driver's license exam in another language than English, the risks are too great for them to not understand the various signs out there or communicate with emergency personnel.

Lives are not to be risked to appease any one group or make this privileged opportunity to drive an easier process for the sake of being friendly or accommodating.

When a person is injured or killed due to a motorist's inability to read and understand a written sign, I am sure the excuse of "let's continue being friendly to license applicants" will be not be accepted. Must we wait until then?

To refute those who sarcastically say that Tennesseans or Americans don't read/speak English well, I say this.

I am proud to say and without reservation that those who were blessed to be born in the US from legal American citizens aren't to be judged for their lack of English.

Eddie Garcia

March 10, 2010 at 5:53 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

I have no problem in saying that as a guest in this country back in the 70s WE had an obligation to assimilate and become good Americans. One of those steps was to learn English and assimilate. I also was raised to not judge or offend others for their shortcomings, be they foreign or domestic.

Regarding the VW's representative comment about southern hospitality, I say this.

To me, southern hospitality, among the many things that TN is famous worldwide for, is the act of giving others the encouragement for them to succeed in our great country, our great state of Tennessee.

As Americans, I think, we have a duty to help those who choose to call America home the nudge or the drive to be self-directed and self-sustaining.

Enabling them with translators and translated documents at taxpayer expense doesn’t accomplish that objective.

One last thing, southern hospitality is NOT ridiculing people whose primary language is English and who were born here and their grammar, their enunciation or their sentence structure is not adequate.

Eddie Garcia

March 10, 2010 at 5:54 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

There are extenuating circumstances for that and as Americans we don't or shouldn't ridicule another American.

My position for this exam is for anyone whose first language is not English that they learn English to be able to take the exam in English as a matter of public safety. I am not saying they need to know English to the level of becoming a professor or winning the Nobel Peace prize. Just adequate enough to read and understand English on the exam and then be able to read and understand written road signs.

Please support HB 262 and join my Blog at>

Eddie Garcia

jehuk71 said...

With the shape the economy is in you folks are worried about if these people can read english good enough to pass a driving test, your kidding right. If they are bringing jobs into our town locally and our state in general as long as they can tell me which button to push or where to put the screw I dont care if he can read or write a stich of english... Give them the test in pig latin if thats what they speak... These are not abunch of illegals from just over the border, these are our future jobs and livly hood.. I am a born and raised country boy but its time Tennessee got off of the dumb@$$ wagon ang figured out if we can keep the VW people happy we can get jobs from other major companies also...

March 10, 2010 at 11:16 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

Foreign executives are concerned and interested in tax credits, tax savings and economic development incentives.

These companies bring over far fewer executives than the Americans they claim, purport and promise to hire.

In fact, four of these foreign companies have written me that their executives are multilingual including English.

March 11, 2010 at 1:34 a.m.
Nashmusic said...

Do you find it offensive when you walk into a private business and the clerks or employees speak another language right in front of you when they should be servicing you as a client?

A customer or client whose dollars you spend pay their checks and keeps the lights on?

If you do, then check out this other TN legislation that needs your help.

March 12, 2010 at 1:36 a.m.
Nashmusic said...

TO signalmtnman:

The operative point is that driving is a privilege--not a right. If your argument is valid then everyone who doesn't have car insurance or drives even though their license is suspended/revoked, etc would fall under your premise.

Hence, laws are laws and people will still break them, but there are REAL consequences.

My point is that lawmakers have the prerogative to effect this license exam only in English to ensure safety. If a person decides to STILL drive without a license (in any applicable case) it is an arrestable offense.

Eddie Garcia

March 12, 2010 at 2:02 a.m.
Nashmusic said...

As an American, I am tired of the rhetoric, unsubstantiated arguments and weak examples.

But as an American, I respect the opinion of others. However, here is a prime example supporting the need for HB 262 to pass. It may seem too simple to some, but the point is critical.

We can bicker all we want about foreign companies and the "weak' and baseless argument that this bill is "unfriendly" but human life is to be valued and we cannot be lax in our responsibility as stewards of life.

When you leave the door open for grave mistakes that cause injury or death because of the lack of understanding English, you become an accomplice.

March 13, 2010 at 5:25 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

Here is my Facebook fan page supporting this important issue.

Dealing with issues that affect the citizenry take courage coupled with empathy. Tennessee state Representatives Watson, Shipley, Carr, Rich, Marsh, Ty Cobb, Faulkner and state Senators Bunch and Ketron believe in doing the right thing for their community's longevity and survival and in turn for Tennessee. In the grand scheme of things, for the United States of America.

It took a lot of courage for state Rep. Eric Watson to file this legislation. Now it will take each of you to contact your state legislators and tell them to support and co-sponsor this bill for public safety and no other reason. Each member of the General Assembly must see the importance of this legislation for all Tennesseans.

Contact the Chattanooga area members of the Assembly to urge them to support this legislation. Many area legislator have STILL not expressed their support.

America has come to the point where we cannot be ambivalent about OUR country's future. We must move from the back seat to the driver's seat or face and accept the consequences.

Our country is crying out!

Will you now come to her aid?

March 13, 2010 at 5:26 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

You may locate your respective legislator in their respective chamber at this website link:

Also, please consider reaching out to your respective newspapers and send in a Letter to the Editor in support.

I found this notice on the Kingsport, TN city's website. The sign may appear simple, but the reasons behind the sign are incredibly important for anyone who drives on this particular road.

The safety message delivered by the sign is one thing considering the limited size and placement. But if you read the accompanying message, the overall safety for the protection of Kingsport residents and visitors cannot be compromised. Extrapolate that message to any where in our great state of Tennessee.

Please heed the warning message: Motorists must use extreme caution when navigating the detour...

March 13, 2010 at 5:27 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

While on the roads, will a motorist have an opportunity to defer to a paper dictionary? To call a translator?

What about to read and understand an Amber Alert? Shouldn't that abducted child have every opportunity to be saved?

Common sense tells us that IF a motorist CANNOT read or comprehend this safety/warning message, much less the sign itself, the risks are TOO great when lives are at stake.

(First sentence) One thing, is if and when an English speaking person ignores the safety message, they are ignorant, careless and display a wanton disregard for others. Just as they do when they choose to drive impaired, to speed, to ignore school zone speed limits.

(Second sentence) The other thing, is if and when the motorist cannot understand that message because they CANNOT read English. As some state officials (appointed and elected) have said, "Immigrants can speak English, it's just too darn difficult for them to read English."

Well ladies and gentlemen, to speak the sign is in NO WAY the same as reading the sign. It is apples and oranges.

So to me, as a father with a daughter who is about to begin her driving life, the cause and effect is compounded with the issues in my first sentence, but seriously raises major concerns with the issues in the second sentence.

I never want to see my daughter hurt from a car accident, but must be willing to let God have that control. An accident from a reckless driver, a drunk driver, a speeding driver can be met with criminal penalties.

As a parent, how am I going to mete out punishment to someone who caused my baby to be hurt because they couldn't understand a road sign?

Can you please take the time and explain that to me?

Thank you,

Eddie Garcia

Concerned parent and American

March 13, 2010 at 5:27 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

There are so many pages on newspapers that I am covering with this important subject and I don't see where I posted this email from an American soldier fighting in Iraq. She wrote me a day or so ago from what she described as a brief R&R period.


We don't know each other but my mom back in Ohio sent me the link to your Blog.

Keeping track of it whenever I can, I am writing you to say I thank you for sticking up for our country!

I admire your persistency in preserving our American language, culture and values. I am an enlisted soldier in the United States Army and stationed here in Iraq. I have been here twice and this is my 8th month of my 2nd deployment.

As my fellow soldiers dress up not knowing if today will be our last day on Earth, we are proud to be Americans. We are proud to stand up for our country and do what is right. To us, it's not a question of why we are here or when are we going home, but how can we do our job on behalf of the United States better? These people and even some back home call us names, but we are proud to be here and to be American.

As we encounter many Iraqi's, some love us and many hate us. Ironic, that as much as they hate us they always try to use English words to ridicule us. As upset as we get to hear them scream English words at us, we laugh at how much they want to be Americans---deep down inside.

Keep up the good work back home and I promise to keep up the good work here. By the way, I also enjoy listening to your music.

Yours truly,

T. Swanson, PFC United States Army

March 13, 2010 at 6:15 p.m.
Humphrey said...

wow, like a dozen posts from the lobbyist.

It turns out that it is a different matter when it is your boss who is ESL than when it is your employee.

FWIW, I can't read a spec of kanji but I drove all over Okinawa.

The argument that countries can only function withe a single language is bogus. There are many countries with two or more "official" languages. Look at the CIA world fact book. This is what it says about the USA:


English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census) note: Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii

Note that none of those, even English, is marked "official."

This is what it says for Hong Kong: Languages:

Chinese (Cantonese) 89.2% (official), other Chinese dialects 6.4%, English 3.2% (official), other 1.2% (2001 census)

And China:


Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)

...but we are all thinking that China is an emerging economic could that be??

And Belgium: Languages:

Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)

Are there more car accidents in Belgium where there are three official languages? This is about xenophobia, plain and simple.

Look at India:


Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9% note: English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language (2001 census)

or some of the richest small nations like...



Malay (official), English, Chinese



Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu



Mandarin 35%, English 23%, Malay 14.1%, Hokkien 11.4%, Cantonese 5.7%, Teochew 4.9%, Tamil 3.2%, other Chinese dialects 1.8%, other 0.9% (2000 census)

Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Qatar, all of which have Arabic as the official language, but English is widely spoken along with a host of other languages

Or Luxembourg, which also ranks ahead of the USA in GDP per capita:


Luxembourgish (national language), German (administrative language), French (administrative language)

My goodness, how can they possibly function??

March 13, 2010 at 6:15 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

My goodness Humphrey

First of all, don't be envious that I have an intelligence to be a lobbyist. But strike that for now. I am an American citizen interested in making sure our country can move forward and forward by using English whenever we need to do the business of government.

If we weren't so in demand by foreigners FROM MANY OF THE COUNTRIES you so eloquently disclose, then why on Earth DO THEY KEEP COMING HERE?

Oh my!

By the way, I am a musician and again, by the grace of God can effectively lobby an issue that is important and earn a living. What, pray tell do you do in our great country?

Eddie Garcia American, musician, lobbyist, activist, father

March 13, 2010 at 6:22 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

Oh yea, Humprhey,

One last thing before I go to my soundcheck for tonite's show.

The reason English is not YET our official language is because liberals in Congress don't have the (hmm? to push through the various bills in Congress.

But the liberals do have the time to consider passing legislation allowing Puerto Rico to consider independence, statehood or the status quo while letting them keep Spanish as their "unofficial" language in government, public schools, etc.

If you like languages so much and feel English isn't a vital component of our economy, I am sure any of those countries you listed would welcome you with open arms.

Word of advice, check each country's requirements for entry. I am sure you will be surprised how MUCH more strict they are compared to our country.

Signing off to play music for an audience of 350 or so.



March 13, 2010 at 6:27 p.m.
rolando said...

Break a leg, Eddie.

Good posts.

March 13, 2010 at 7:25 p.m.
Sailorman said...


Have you ever been to those places you tout? Particularly India, Pakistan, and Dubai? Other than on tour maybe? You can take you "xenophobia" and shove it. I call it national pride.

Europeans, especially in Belgium, practically live together, are exposed to multiple languages from birth, and use all of them every day. I don't care if you speak sanskrit or Martian, English IS the language of the United States. If you want to stay here, learn to speak it or provide your own interpreters like my grandparents did.

America is different get it? Or maybe you would prefer we just accept the fact that we will no longer be the United States and model ourselves after the E.U. Come to think of it, we're doing a pretty good job of that already.


March 13, 2010 at 8:05 p.m.
Humphrey said...

for such an intelligent lobbyist you make some piss poor arguments.

The point that I addressed, that was made above, was that countries that speak more than one language do not succeed economically; I gave examples of some the world's largest economies, and some of the nations with highest per capita GDP that have more than one official or unofficial languages. You reply with straw men and ad hominem arguments. I also don't think it has anything to do with "safety" as nations around the world seem to somehow. I don't think Belgians are just smarter or better drivers than we are.

Look, I understand the subtext here. This sort of thing is the result of xenophobia that is basically anti-hispanic. That is why your second-generation surname, and your pull-yourself-up-by-the-boostraps gives you cred as a lobbyist. It is one thing when we are talking about poor folks speaking spanish - sure, I don't mind those folks cleaning my house or doing my yard, but lord help I don't want them getting a drivers litcense, because they'd just use that get welfare somehow and take my taxes, because if they weren't lazy or stupid they'd know English anyway. The good ones do, right? But it is a different story when that foreigner is the boss man coming here with the money to hire some of those English speakers.

Don't kid yourself, if the xenophobes who come up with this stuff had the forethought to figure out a way to make sure it couldn't be in spanish but it could be in german and japanese they would do it. ESL is a whole different thing when you have the $.

And by the way, the reason that English isn't the official language of the US isn't due to "librals" in congress...after we (fwiw, one of MY ancestress was there in the Penn. militia - the land contract he earned was how my family came to this area) won our independence from the British there was a movement to make the official US language show just how not-British we were. What makes America great is our tolerance for people from different backgrounds with different beliefs.

March 13, 2010 at 8:11 p.m.
Echo said...

Regardless of what some VW stuffed shirt says, it not the place of a multinational company to influence domestic social policy.

Competing languages withing a single political entity causes division. The well educated German leadership at VW had a front row seat to the civil war that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s while Germany and the other EU members watched passively. Riots in Belgium between French and Flemish speakers have occurred. Basque separatism has a language component and the struggle for Basque identity within Spain and France has created a platform for domestic terrorist groups such as the ETA. It is hard to believe that well educated German professionals would want their investment threatened by this type of instability.

If the unnamed VW executive misspoke or was misinterpreted, he might wish to clarify if his opinions are that of VW management or just his own. I would be surprised if our newest German expatriate guests want to interfere with the will of the residents of Tennessee or any other U.S. state in their drive to retain a cultural and political identity founded on the English language.

March 14, 2010 at 8:27 p.m.
Nashmusic said...

It is amazing how many people just miss the big picture regarding the driver's license bill.

And even more, choose to ridicule other Americans.

The POINT here is to ensure all who wish to drive in our country, our state on a permanent basis understand English to ensure safety.

Do you think a foreign country will permit you to take the license in that country in English? Check the facts and you'll be surprised that you will have to learn another language if you want to live there.

I have an angle worth pursuing and certainly looking forward to engaging the liberals.

Would it be far-fetched that the liberals and Democrats are against the English language laws because they fear that if immigrants [who are here legally] learn English rather than continue to speak their native language and NEVER really learn English would become smarter, wiser and be able to speak for themselves?

Or is it that the liberals want these immigrants to stay "dumbed-down" so that they always need translators and interpreters and never really get to see who is behind the Wizard of Oz's curtain?


Open the flood gates of debate!


March 26, 2010 at 4:28 p.m.
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