Category Archives: English language

American Morans, V.2

Jean Mosley of Madison, TN, thinks Nashville needs a law to make people “stop speaking Mexican.”

I have a deal for Ms. Mosley. Why don’t you learn to speak English first? Then we can talk about what language all the people who weren’t born in this country speak.


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Filed under American Morans, English language

>Did An Election Ploy Fumble?

>English First fails on a legal technicality … for now:

In a letter to the Davidson Country [sic] Election Commission, the Metro director of law stated that the English Only charter amendment proposal cannot appear on the November ballot because of a legal technicality.

Metro Director of Law Sue Cain said in her letter that the English Only proposal would not clear the charter required two-year waiting period for charter amendment referendums.

Awww. So we have to wait until 2010 to vote on this? OMG! How will the GOP rally their true believers to the polls this November, with a dud like McCain on the ticket?

Never fear. As I alerted folks in this post, 2010 is the really big election year anyway, on account of the Census-required redistricting. Whoever is in power in 2010 will determine congressional districts for the next generation.

It’s always good for Republicans.

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Filed under English language, immigration

English First’s Tainted Money Trail


The Tennessean is on top of the story. Kudos to Michael Cass. Apologies for any mean thing I ever said about the Tennessean.


Our local media is finally getting some answers on who is funding Eric Crafton’s English First amendment. Apparently nearly $20,000 and legal assistance came from a national group called ProEnglish, which is part of a larger group called U.S. Inc. Their founder, John Tanton, is on ProEnglish’s board of directors. The Tennessean identified Tanton as “a Michigan eye surgeon” who “also founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform” (FAIR).

Isn’t that nice.

Well, I did a little Googling of my own, and found (rather easily, I might add) that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists FAIR as a hate group.

And there’s more. Lots more: here’s what the SPLC has to say about Tanton, FAIR and U.S. Inc.:

For decades, John Tanton has operated a nativist empire out of his U.S. Inc. foundation’s headquarters in Petoskey, Mich. Even as he simultaneously runs his own hate group — The Social Contract Press, listed for many years by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its anti-Latino and white supremacist writings — Tanton has remained the house intellectual for FAIR. In fact, U.S. Inc. bankrolls much of FAIR’s lobbying activity and, at least until 2005, Tanton ran its Research and Publications Committee, the group that fashions and then disseminates FAIR’s position papers. In its 2004 annual report, FAIR highlighted its own main ideologue, singing Tanton’s praises for “visionary qualities that have not waned one bit.”

But what, exactly, is Tanton’s vision?

As long ago as 1988, when a series of internal 1986 documents known as the WITAN memos were leaked to the press, Tanton’s bigoted attitudes have been known. In the memos, written to colleagues on the staff of FAIR, Tanton warned of a coming “Latin onslaught” and worried that high Latino birth rates would lead “the present majority to hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile.” Tanton repeatedly demeaned Latinos in the memos, asking whether they would “bring with them the tradition of the mordida [bribe], the lack of involvement in public affairs” and also questioning Latinos’ “educability.”

Echoing his 19th-century nativist forebears who feared Catholic immigrants from Italy and Ireland, Tanton has often attacked Catholics in terms not so different from those used by the Klan and the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s. In the WITAN memos, for instance, he worried that Latino immigrants would endanger the separation of church and state and undermine support for public schooling. Never one to miss a threatening and fertile Catholic, Tanton even reminded his colleagues, “Keep in mind that many of the Vietnamese coming in are also Catholic.”

The leaked memos caused an uproar. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Walter Cronkite quit the board of a group Tanton headed, U.S. English, after the memos became public in 1988. U.S. English Executive Director Linda Chavez — a former Reagan Administration official and, later, a conservative commentator — also left, calling Tanton’s views “anti-Hispanic, anti-Catholic and not excusable.”

You can read one of Tanton’s race-bating WITAN memos here.

According to the SPLC, Mr. Tanton is a one-man, anti-immigrant empire. The list of 13 groups Tanton has founded or funded includes U.S. Inc., U.S. English, NumbersUSA, Pro English, and The Social Contract Press. Several of these groups are avowed hate groups.

John Tanton is a shady character, to be sure. Look what American Progress dug up:

The Tanton-owned Social Contract Press publishes the views of white nationalists such as John Vinson, including a gem about how God prefers racial separation. Tanton also publishes Camp of the Saints, a racist screed that uses fiction to warn white Europeans about an impending invasion of immigrants from India who will overrun the government, kidnap white women and make them into prostitutes.

If members of the mainstream press did their homework, they’d discover that it is pretty easy to get to the bottom of Tanton’s network. Dig just a little deeper and they would find what the Southern Poverty Law Center reports—that Tanton received large sums of early money for FAIR from the Pioneer Fund, possibly the last remaining funder of eugenics in the country.

You remember eugenics; it’s best-known proponents were the Nazis who tried to demonstrate the power of this pseudo-science by executing millions of Jews, disabled people, and others who did not meet their views of racial purity. A visit to the Pioneer Fund’s website is a walk back in time, and not a pleasant one. It contains biographies of board members and grant recipient scholars who support such ideas as black people having smaller brains than people of European or Asian descent, and women being genetically predisposed to have lower IQs than men.

If members of the mainstream press did their homework, we’d all have ponies and ride to ice cream castles in the sky.

Sorry, but come on, people. This stuff isn’t hard.

Every right wing bigot has to have his slush fund for spreading hate, and it’s no surprise to learn that Richard Mellon Scaife is a big Tanton supporter

Tanton’s most important funding source for the last two decades may well have been the Scaife family, heirs to the Mellon Bank fortune.

Richard Mellon Scaife, a reclusive figure, has been instrumental in establishing right-wing organizations like the Heritage Foundation and supporting causes like the “Arkansas Project,” an effort to dig up dirt on President Clinton.

Scaife family foundations, including those controlled by Scaife’s sister, Cordelia May Scaife, provided some $1.4 million to FAIR from 1986-2000.

These foundations, along with private trusts controlled by Scaife family members, have also provided millions of dollars to other anti-immigration groups.

Other foundations that have supported the Tanton network include:

• The McConnell Foundation, whose president, Scott McConnell, is on both FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies’ boards;
• The Shea Foundation, which also funds the Council of Conservative Citizens; and
• The Weeden, Salisbury, Smith Richardson, Blair and Sikes foundations.

There’s more than enough here to cause alarm. I wonder if those thousands of citizens who signed their name to Nashville’s English First petition realize they just gave their name and address to a hate group network who will probably hit them up for funds and support for their future battle against the “savages.”

Thanks a lot, Eric Crafton. Look what slipped in when you opened the barn door. Is this really the kind of people Nashville needs to be doing business with? At least now we know why Crafton was so secretive about his money source.

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Filed under English language, Eric Crafton, immigration

>I Get Mail

>Today’s mail contained two–TWO–petitions from the English First people. There are six signature lines. I guess we’re supposed to take this around to our neighbors or something. As if.

They must be sending these things to every registered voter in the county: Last month 30,000 postcards were mailed out. Imagine.

I’m thinking about how much money it has taken for all of the robocalls, mailings, petitions, etc. There’s some big bucks behind this amendment push, no doubt about it. Yet the financing of this campaign is all very murky. Eric Crafton won’t say where the financial backing for his initiative is coming from, except the cryptic “from folks.”

I still can’t believe that there isn’t a reporter in this town who has been able to find out where all the money for this stuff is coming from. No, scratch that, I can believe it. Short of recycling record company press releases and AP wire copy, our local press is basically useless.

I have an idea. I bet if we scratched the surface we’d find some of the usual GOP moneybags behind this effort. Immigrants are the perfect whipping-boy for Republicans desperate for an issue that will beat their voters to the polls this November in progressive Nashville. They’ve already used up the gay-baiting issue, and there wasn’t time to get an abortion measure on the ballot for this November. But the GOP has to be careful not to offend Latino voters; McSame has been busy courting Latino voters, promising pathways to citizenship at secret meetings.

All of which is the kind of stuff that would make the immigrant-hating GOP base in Nashville want to stay home come November. But: ta da! Lookie here! A piece of election year candy for you! Come, come out and vote! Vote for this useless piece of legislation that declares something that doesn’t need to be codified in the Metro charter, and be sure to cast your vote for the GOP candidates while you’re in the voting booth.

Maybe I’m just being cynical. But I really don’t understand why we voters don’t have a right to know who is funding this monumental campaign. And no, Eric Crafton, “just folks” just doesn’t cut it.

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Filed under English language, Eric Crafton, Nashville, Republican Party

>I Get Phone Calls

>Including this robocall, yesterday:

Please help Metro Councilman Eric Crafton make English the official language of city government in Nashville. He needs to collect 15,000 signed petitions by August 15 to put a referendum on the ballot to let the voters decide if they want their government to operate in English, or pay for their government to operate in languages ranging from Spanish to Arabic.

OMG. Let’s count the wingnut dog whistles in that one, shall we?

Taxpayers funding government operations in languages ranging from Spanish to Arabic? Oh, noes! The terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming! And they can talk to our police officers and ER workers!

I just came from a week in Scandinavia, where everyone spoke English. The bank ATM machines all offer a choice of languages, including the native Norwegian (or Swedish), French and English. The sky did not fall. A great chasm did not appear and swallow Stockholm whole. They are thriving.

I don’t know what’s worse, Eric Crafton continuing to flog this dead horse legislation or his obvious fearmongering tactics to manipulate public opinion.

Get over yourself, Eric Crafton. America is a melting pot. Multiple languages have always existed here. Deal with it.

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Filed under English language, Eric Crafton, immigration, Nashville