English-only bill: bad idea
In case you weren’t aware, this is our state motto: “L’Etoile du Nord.” Roughly translated from French, it means “The Northern Star.” Just keep that in mind, our state motto––the one that adorns our flag and state seal––is French.
One of the first pieces of legislation proposed by our GOP controlled legislature aims to make English the official language of Minnesota. This is similar to a piece of failed legislation proposed last year by a Republican state senator. Specifically, this bill would make official documents published by the state (like voting ballots, and healthcare forms) English only. As with every other poorly thought out piece of legislation the GOP has put out this session, the official argument for it is cost cutting. But really, how much money are we going to save from printing ballots only in English?
So if it’s not money, why bar these people from civic involvement? Well, while the actual bill states that it’s about money, the verbal arguments that have been made in favor of the bill talk a lot about “unity.” I’m all for unity, but I feel like in this case “unity” is code for “homogeny.” During the great depression Minnesota published voting instructions in Swedish, French, Polish, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian, Bohemian and German, because that’s what the people in the state spoke. Today the languages have changed, but the principals have stayed the same. We all pay taxes and just because we speak Hmong, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese or Somali doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be allowed to vote––or worse, receive healthcare. But maybe this whole thing is about money. In that case, I say we bring back the poll tax.