Monday, January 12, 2009
Why stop at just English. I think the law should specify "perfect English". This way it will force everyone in Nashville to learn perfect English.
— madstan, Madison,WI
How can they standardize on English when they don't speak it themselves?
— MW, Dallas, TX
I had occasion to visit Nashville often when my daugther did her residency at Vanderbilt, and my impression is that if that city is the Athens of the South, Athens should ask for a recount.
— Nutty Joe, Massachusetts
I'd like to know how many citizens of Nashville can speak the English language correctly.
— lawrence Coleman, NYC NY 10003
Also, the last poster included his address but I've deleted it because I'm a caring, rational person.
If these posters were to have actually read the comments, they would have seen that a lot of the English-Only proponents were writing from northern states, and most of those against this disgusting proposal were from Nashville itself. Xenophobia is not limited to the South. Neither is racism, sexism, homophobia (ahem...California...ahem), anti-intellectualism (sorry, Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber are from where?), or any other host of negative, pernicious qualities. The only difference, really, between the South and other regions of the country, is that we are aware of our loathsome place in history and the systemic prejudices that still exist.
I'm not saying that everyone in the South is aware of its history, but I've yet to meet a northerner who will admit to his or her region's inherent racism. When I moved to Tennessee from Maryland (my nomadic childhood is fodder for a different post) as a teenager, I literally had people say to me, "Oh, I hate the south, because people there are racist." I'm sorry, are you blind? People are racist everywhere. At least in the south, people are aware of whether they are racist or not.
That's not to excuse racism. Oh no! I hate racism and any other kind of prejudice. It's an intellectual cancer, that unfortunately seems to be hereditary. I can't deny that I have known and befriended racists (and have not run screaming away if a friend came out of the racist closet). I used to think that was a deal-breaker. But I've learned that refusing to tolerate others for their viewpoints can be just as bad as having negative viewpoints. I certainly can't say that I don't have negative qualities that others forgive me for. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Hate the sin, not the sinner, so to speak.
But, this attitude that only those in the South are racist does no less than PERPETUATE racism in those northern enclaves of intellectual superiority. Oh, well if racism can only exist in the south, it cannot exist in the north! So, if one has a complaint of discrimination, they must be mistaken. We've eradicated racism here in the north. By virtue of being born in the north, I cannot be a racist.
Self-awareness of your own subconscious attitudes and prejudices is how you overcome them. As a region, the South is self-aware. We are striving towards perfection, and though we will never reach it, we are striving. The north sits on its rock of certainty and lets injustice paddle by.
Side note: most of the people who in my life have dismissed the south for racism, were themselves racist, and especially classist. I think a lot of people who grow up in blue states think they are liberal, but they really just vote liberal (by the way, don't stop voting liberal!). If you think you're superior to others because...you went to private school, or took a lot of vacations as a kid, or have parents who are professionals, or live in the Northeast or Southern California, or taught in the inner city for one year before quitting to pursue an MFA in creative writing from an elite, east-coast university, then you're not really a liberal. You just vote liberal.
The key word there was "superior to others". Not to knock just anyone...just those that feel superior.
Anyway, now that I've alienated half of my friends and family, I will end this rant.