Category Archives: New York City

Memorial Day & Place

Sorry I’ve been out of pocket, Mr. Beale and I spent the past four days in New York City for our pre-Tony’s theater trip. It was unbelievably hot and muggy in the city for this time of year; it felt more like July than May. That’s true for Nashville as well, and while we were gone Nashville broke a record with 95-degree temps.

We’re in New York City at least twice a year for theater and other cultural stuff. This year we also visited the 9/11 Memorial. It was a rainy, gray morning when we visited, which seemed very appropriate. We both found the site very dramatic and emotional, and the two massive waterfalls cascading into the void make a powerful statement that hits you on a lot levels:

It was also really moving to see all of the names engraved around each pool. Some names were familiar — Todd Beamer, for example — but most were unknown.

What is really striking is the diversity of ethnicities represented in these names. It shows what a truly multicultural event 9/11 was, and still is. There were a lot of foreign visitors there, also a lot of foreign sailors since we were there during Fleet Week. Large boards surrounded the site where visitors could write thanks to the recovery workers who spent so many months on the site, most suffering debilitating lung disease as a result. These messages, too, were international in scope.

The 9/11 Memorial site is surrounded by intense security: you need to go through airport-style scanners to get in, there are at least three security checks plus chain-link fencing and security cameras. And this, too, seems appropriate, for 9/11 was ground zero for our modern security state.

With all of these powerful emotions and thoughts running through my head I was unprepared for the major buzzkill that was the memorial’s Visitor Center, which is really … a gift shop? Seriously? On hallowed ground we have a freaking gift shop? With 9/11 T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, keychains, and tote bags? Tacky, tacky, tacky. (You can see the stuff on sale here.) It seemed really crass to me, but I guess exploitation of 9/11 is another legacy of the event, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Everyone seems to be jumping on the 9/11 memorial bandwagon. I just read that the Kingston Fossil Plant, site of Tennessee’s disastrous coal ash spill, will dedicate a 9/11 memorial using steel from the World Trade Center today. I find that very odd. But hey, whatever.

[UPDATE]:

More on my trip here.

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Filed under 9/11, New York City, travel

>Greetings From New York City

>Yes, I’m in that bain bane of Eric Crafton’s existence, New York City. Foreign languages abound. Last night we caught a Tony Award-winning musical, “In The Heights,” which celebrates the ethnic diversity that has always made this country unique and strong. Today we’ll hit Chinatown–it is, after all, Chinese New Year–a place awash in foreign language sights, signs and sounds. If the Eric Craftons of this world had their way, there would be no Chinatown, no Little Italy, no Spanish Harlem, no Germantown.

Viva our diversity.

Posting will be light today, but hopefully I”ll be able to throw up some pictures.

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>English Under Attack!!!!!!!!

>[UPDATE}:

Laura Creekmore puts it simply:

it is hard to make a case for a charter change undone by its own exceptions.

And it is even harder still when Crafton’s only legitimate example to date–New York City–implemented its current policy precisely because existing policy conflicted with Federal law.

Crafton’s still got nothin’ ….
———————————–
Yes that’s right! According to English Eric Crafton, the English language is under attack! Run for your lives!!!!

And as proof of this he brings us examples of California state legislators, oops I mean Oregon firefighters, sorry, I mean New York City services which he says by law must be provided in “up to seven languages …. at enormous cost to taxpayers.”

Oh, New York, how could you! First you allowed 9/11 to happen and now this!

(BTW, I am still waiting for the example of “English under attack” here in Nashville. Apparently Crafton still doesn’t have one ….)

Of course, Crafton doesn’t give any specifics as to which services he’s talking about. This could be yet another Fox News fantasy, which he’s become fond of repeating without any fact-checking. So I am left to assume that he’s talking about the Equal Access To Human Services Act of 2003, aka Intro 38A.

It provides foreign language assistance for those seeking Medicaid, food stamps and similar forms of welfare assistance. The law was expanded this year with Executive Order 120 to include a broader range of government services, provided in the six most common languages found in New York City.

Eric Crafton, do you really want immigrant children denied food stamps or medical care because their families are not yet proficient in English?

Really?

Shame on you. For shame. Eric Crafton, what do you have against brown babies?

An overview of the 2003 law, citing 2000 census figures, states:

One in four New Yorkers, over two million people, are limited English proficient (LEP).

Wow, that’s a lot of people — and that was five years ago. Nashville’s entire “Combined Stastistical Area”–that’s Metro Nashville and the ring counties–contains fewer people than the limited English proficient residents of New York.

One might almost think New York City was some kind of melting pot or something. Weird.

But let me go on:

Hundreds of thousands of families eligible for public assistance have historically been unable to fully access services. The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), which is responsible for administering government benefits such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, and welfare, was found to be in violation of Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act in 1999, but the agency failed to take corrective action.

Wow, so there’s like a federal law requiring equal access to government services for all?

And as some Nashville bloggers have calculated, violating Title VI puts us at risk of losing over $276,000 in federal monies that are tied to Title VI?

So why are we having this metro-wide referendum again?

And as for that “enormous cost” New York taxpayers must shoulder? Well, maybe not quite so much:

The mayor refused to be specific about how much the services will cost, saying only that it was a “relatively small” amount given the size of the city’s budget. He added: “This executive order will make our city more accessible, while helping us become the most inclusive municipal government in the nation.”

“The fundamental basis of government is its interaction with its citizens,” the mayor said before signing the executive order at City Hall on Tuesday. “If people don’t know what we do, don’t know what they should do, what the law requires them to do, don’t know how to get services, all the money that we’re spending providing those services, providing those laws, is meaningless.”

The order requires that agencies translate essential public documents, pamphlets and forms in the six languages. But its reach is broader, as it allows for the use of a telephone-based service that can link immigrants with interpreters who speak Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and dozens of others less-common languages.

A telephone-based service? Like the ones metropolitan areas around the country already use, like, say, Language Line, which I’ve already mentioned in previous posts?

So in other words, cities don’t have to keep one Urdu-proficient staff person on salary, twiddling his/her thumbs until the rare once-every-three-years occasion that an Urdu translator is needed. They simply pay for this service when they need it.

So, compliance is not so hard after all, is it?

I’m starting to think that this “English under attack” thing really isn’t amounting to very much.

Eric Crafton is going to have to do a lot better than this.

It is inconceivable to me that two days after the nation swore in its first African American president, ushering in a brand new day in our country’s race relations, that Nashville would take this regressive step. Eric Crafton is out of touch with the direction this nation is moving. Nashville does not need to go with him.

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Filed under English Only, Eric Crafton, Nashville, New York City

>At Least He’s Picking On New York For A Change

>The Nashville Scene points us to Eric Crafton’s fear-mongering radio ad:

It begins with strains of “America the Beautiful.”


”America. One nation, under God, indivisible-until now.” The ad goes on to say that English is “under attack” It cites examples of government services in New York City being offered in multiple languages, and presents the amendment as a way of preventing the same thing from happening in Nashville.

English is “under attack”? Really? The–pardon the pun–lingua franca of global commerce is “under attack”? Is he nuts?

Am I the only one picking up a “War On Christmas” vibe here?

Personally, I don’t see what anyone loses by offering government services in multiple languages. But so what. That’s New York City. Again, I ask: of what relevance is it to us here in Nashville what they do in New York City?

New York is America’s most populous, diverse city. Walk down any street in New York and you will hear a variety of languages spoken all around you. It’s the home of the freaking United Nations. Maybe multi-lingual government services are needed in New York. Who cares? In case Eric Crafton hasn’t noticed, Nashville is not New York. Trust me, we aren’t even close.

If the whole language war thing were truly an issue for us here in Nashville, Crafton wouldn’t have to keep trotting out examples of how they do things in California and New York. He’d cite some examples right here at home. The fact that he can’t seem to find any that would muster the proper amount of outrage tells me this really is only an issue in Crafton’s mind.

Of course, by picking on coastal metropolitan areas like New York City and Oakland, this campaign hits some nice “coastal elite” hot buttons. He could easily pick on some small towns in Texas, which I suggested earlier, but that doesn’t push the same social and cultural buttons. I’m sure that worked very well in some of the smaller communities where the English Only movement has found success.

But Nashville isn’t Culpeper, Virginia. We’re the “third coast.” I question how well the big city-vs-small town message resonates here. Indeed, I question how well it works at all these days. It certainly seemed to cause a big push-back in the last election when the GOP tried to use it.

Anyway, as Crafton’s campaign gets increasingly squirrelly, he’s starting to remind me of Bill O’Reilly, picking up factually-flawed stories from WorldNet Daily and repeating the juicy bits, promoting the idea there is a “war” going on that only he and a handful of anti-immigrant crusaders can see.

It’s all very strange.

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Filed under English Only, Eric Crafton, Nashville, New York City