The city of Grand Rapids has attacked a bill sponsored by Rep. Jack Hoogendyk to make English the official language of Michigan. The city commission passed a resolution 6-0 opposing the bill. A commissioner named Rick Tormala said: "The city of Grand Rapids got up on its bully pulpit and said stop this nonsense."
Tormala attacked Hoogendyk personally, saying "We have always printed ballots and signs in other languages. We've done it in Polish, Italian, Dutch. Maybe if he was representative 'John Smith,' he could say this with a little more credibility."
What exactly is that supposed to mean? I can only assume that this is a racist attack on Hoogendyk's Dutch ancestry. Actually, Hoogendyk is the perfect example of why this bill is necessary. He is the child of immigrants who came to America from the Netherlands. Would he be a state representative now if his parents had only taught him Dutch?
Tormala's other "argument" was that "legislation is not necessary since 97 percent of the Michigan population already speaks English." What kind of argument is this? First, I'm suspicious of that statistic. Do 97% speak English as their primary language, or do they just know some English?
Second, this says nothing about who this bill will affect. The cost of translating government documents into other languages falls on all taxpayers, not just the few who want their ballots in Urdu.
Third, even assuming this only affects a few people, what's wrong with that? Tormala seems to be assuming that this bill would benefit English speakers at the expense of immigrants. But this is incorrect. The chief beneficiaries of this bill will be immigrants. It doesn't do immigrants any favors to keep them segregated in small ethnic communities, unable to communicate with the larger population. I find it very ironic that liberals pride themselves on opposing segregation, when they are now its chief advocates.
Fourth, even assuming that this bill isn't necessary now, that doesn't mean that it won't be necessary in the future. What's wrong with preventing a problem before it gets bad? There are parts of this country where English is not spoken. Is that what Tormala wants here?
If this is the best that liberals can do, this bill should soon be on Granholm's desk.