Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | April 30, 2010

The Alabama English Slip

As the Arizona controversy brews with responses from both sides of the political alley, another story comes from a southern state: Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tim James aired a commercial in which he states that if elected, Alabama will no longer offer driving tests in multiple languages. “This is Alabama,” he says in a thick Southern drawl. “We speak English.” He cites that having tests in various tongues elevates costs for the state, and in the end asks voters if that makes sense.

But the fact is that even if voters get behind him, it’s highly unlikely that he will be able to enforce the concept. After all, even if Alabama is one of 27 states to declare American English as its official language (there are several states, such as Hawaii, Vermont and Maine, which have more than one), there is the fact that according to the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Executive Order No. 13166) public entities receiving federal funds must have all vital documents available in every language (should I say that again? Every language) that their clients speak; That happens because despite several efforts, nor English nor any other language (including German, which was once considered – really) has never been officially adopted by the United States.

As Pres. Kennedy correctly stated in 1963, “Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races colors, and national origins contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.” 

I saw several posts on the Internet in support of Mr. James’ idea, but the fact is that legislators in some southern states think that they can trump Federal laws simply because of their principles (or lack thereof). Their attitude is like the Old South that pressured Hollywood to portray African-Americans as happily subservient slaves in period films like Gone With The Wind or Jezebel under the threat of having their films blocked in the area. It is little wonder why in this day and age, we still need the Voting Rights Act to be enforced.

Politicians like Gov. Brewer, Tim James, the Tea Party Traveling Freak Show and celebrities like Sarah Palin need to stop deceiving their supporters with bogus promises and false accusations. Why don’t they talk about the truth? Defend your gun rights if you want to, but don’t waste taxpayer money (and my waning patience) by passing laws that will be ultimately challenged in court. And stop blaming immigrants for your own shortcomings, because this writer – the son of an Brazilian mother and a husband to a Polish-born wife – will be watching closely.


  1. Thanks, Ernest for highlighting this moran on your blog! I appreciate it.

    The fact is, a latent stream of racism runs hard, fast and deep under not just the southern, but the entire American consciousness. Tim James simply does us a favor by shining a light under the Klan hoods.

    And, b-t-w, Tim James is toast in that primary. The main motivator for his benighted “English Only” commercial is the fact that he’s getting his wealthy hindquarters handed to him by that Grand Freak Kleagle of the TeaBaggin’ Klavern, “Judge” Roy Moore. Roy Moore WILL be the Alabama Repiglicken nominee for governor.

    Whether Alabamians elect him governor over Democrat Artur Davis will speak volumes about where not only Alabama stands, but where America stands, as well.

    • Bob, the South has always been a scary place for liberals, but now it’s become a wasp’s nest (pun intended). The worst part that his idea is unenforceable, because of the blessed Civil Rights Act. Thanks for reading, and let’s keep in touch

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