Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is leading the xenophobic charge again to make English the official language of the United States.
Under legislation proposed by Inhofe in the Senate, all the government’s “official duties” must be in English and it also “requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to propose a policy for English language testing during the naturalization process,” according to a press release on the senator’s website.
Iowa’s U.S. Rep. Steve King introduced companion legislation in the House. Both Inhofe and King disingenuously stress the legislation is about “commonality” and “common language” without acknowledging its punitive nature and its attack, in particular, on the Hispanic community. There are approximately 48.4 million Hispanic and Latino Americans in the country.
Here’s what Inhofe said about the legislation:
This legislation will provide much-needed commonality among United States citizens, regardless of heritage. As a nation built by immigrants, it is important that we share one vision and one official language.
Here’s what King said:
A common language is the most powerful unifying force known throughout history. We need to encourage assimilation of all legal immigrants in each generation. A nation divided by language cannot pull together as effectively as a people.
Note Inhofe’s statement that we should “share one vision and one official language.” What exactly does he mean by “one vision”? Is that even possible in a Democracy? What type of person wants only “one vision” for a country the size of the United States?
Of course, Inhofe can argue he’s just promoting the views of his constituency. Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed its own English-only measure last November by a 75 to 25 percent margin. A lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of the measure after the vote.
The English-only movement is primarily driven by social conservatives and seems particularly targeted, along with anti-illegal immigration legislation, at the Hispanic community. But what about promoting language acquisition at all levels? Shouldn’t we promote the idea that Americans should try to know other languages as well as English? Isn’t that a more enlightened view than “one vision” for the entire country?
Meanwhile, another anti-illegal immigration bill is making its way through the Oklahoma legislature. Some of its requirements are at least somewhat based on the controversial and recently passed Arizona law, which included giving police more power to determine if someone is here legally. Gov. Mary Fallin should veto the bill if it gets final legislative approval, but will she worry about alienating her base?
In the end, English-only and even stricter anti-illegal immigration laws here make the state seem intolerant of people from other cultures. This is not good for the state’s business climate or its intellectual community. Obviously, Inhofe is playing to the base here with his legislation. Unfortunately, while the corporate media—The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World, in particular—opposed Oklahoma’s English-only measure, it also implicitly condones and enables Inhofe’s overall political agenda by supporting him for office.
Chris Casteel, chief propagandist for U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, published an article in The Daily Oklahoman on Sunday that obviously tries to rehabilitate the senator’s image.
Inhofe, despised throughout the world for his ignorant and outrageous comments about scientific and lifestyle issues, suddenly feels concern for the country’s dilapidated infrastructure, according to the disingenuous article. The article claims Inhofe believes Imperial President George Bush, who plans to veto a bill Inhofe supports, is "dishonest."
According to the article, Inhofe said, "The president knows (a veto) is going to be overridden. But now he can do something for his disappearing conservative base. I think it's dishonest.”
The “dishonest“ and “disappearing conservative base” comments coming from such a right-wing toady is interesting for what it means for the upcoming 2008 elections. But there are larger, more important issues here.
Casteel fails to point out that a vast majority of the civilized world believes Bush has also been dishonest about several other issues, most notably the Iraq occupation, which some predict will cost at least $2 trillion. But Casteel, a useful tool for the neoconservative cause, has never been one to hold his sources accountable to logic or consistency. His coverage of Inhofe is about furthering what one Oklahoman editorial writer once called the conservative bastion in Oklahoma.
Obviously, if the president is dishonest about this issue—Inhofe says the bill he supports does not actually appropriate money—then he might well be dishonest about other issues, right? But Casteel would never ask Inhofe about this inconsistency. Inhofe has supported the bloody Iraq occupation since the invasion and so has The Daily Oklahoman. Here is the real logic: Most people in the world think Bush lied about the Iraq occupation; most people in the world do not think Bush lied about the bill Inhofe supports or they simply do not care at this point. Inhofe also has his own major credibility problems.
But an even larger fallacy here is that Inhofe is actually concerned with the nation’s public infrastructure. As the nation’s bridges and highways crumbled in Oklahoma and the nation over the last decade or so, Inhofe stood back and did nothing. All these corporate, conservative politicians like Inhofe are directly responsible for the decline of America’s infrastructure. They support spending money on endless war as our bridges begin to collapse. They cut taxes to the rich as they deny health care for children. Inhofe is an immoral politician who has placed his own political expediency above the American people. He acts only in the interests of corporations, which fund his campaigns.
And Casteel’s article is completely about political expediency. Inhofe now wants to distance himself from Bush, whose declining approval ratings do not bode well for the senator’s reelection campaign in 2008. Watch for more Casteel articles—Executive Editor Ed Kelley has tried to do the same thing recently with U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn—that try to argue Inhofe is actually concerned about regular Oklahomans after all.
But you are incredibly naïve if you believe Inhofe cares if Oklahomans have decent health care, decent roads and decent schools. His brand of right-wing extremism has turned a once prospering world power into a country that cannot rebuild its cities, such as New Orleans, take care of its bridges or provide adequate health care for its citizens. There is not another current politician in Washington that represents this failed ideology more than Inhofe. On one level, the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis symbolizes the collapse of Inhofe’s warped philosophy. How many more people are going to have to die before this country wakes up and sends politicians like Inhofe into retirement?
Casteel’s article also never mentions that Inhofe has drawn an opponent in the upcoming 2008 race. State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City), a Democrat, recently announced he is running against Inhofe. Rice will do more than pull political stunts when it comes to public infrastructure. The state needs to elect more progressive officials like Rice before the next bridge collapses. It could happen here.
Time For A Bully Smackdown
"The truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it, ignorance my deride it, but in the end, there it is."—Winston Churchill
(We need to get busy if we’re going to defeat U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe in the 2008 election. Take a few seconds to sign the petition and urge state Senator Andrew Rice to run against him.)
One has to wonder if as a child in the 1940s U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe was not the meanest bully on the playground.
Did Jimmy make fun of other kids, pull pigtails, and steal milk money? Did he take homework from other students after beating them up and present it as his own? (This would certainly make sense given his current anti-intellectual crusade about global warming and other issues of our day.) Did he throw tantrums, call people names, stomp his feet, and try to get all the attention?
The point is Jim Inhofe, 73, is a mean, sour bully and probably has always been one. How else can you account for this man’s irrational anger with people who simply believe in the scientific method and want to have a dialogue about the environment? How else can account for his narrow-minded, angry views about contemporary lifestyles and sexual orientation? How else can you account for his sarcastic, backpedaling lies about the Iraq war?
Inhofe The Bully has made Oklahoma a laughingstock in the nation and world. His absurd behavior—and it is getting to the point in which one has to question his mental faculties or at the very least his overall judgment--was featured again as a joke on national television. John Stewart of The Daily Show ran a clip recently in which Inhofe criticized an expert at The Weather Channel for his views on global warming. Inhofe, of course, thinks global warming is a vast, left-wing conspiracy. (Watch the clip here.)
It was hilarious, of course, and there might even have been a day some years ago when Inhofe’s remarks could have been dismissed as the colorful yahooism of a good ol’ boy from Oklahoma. But climate change deserves real discussion and debate in the world. As the former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Inhofe prevented this country from engaging in an intelligent discussion about the issue for several years. He politicized the issue. He did so as a payoff to energy companies. (Inhofe receives some of the largest campaign contributions from energy companies in the United States Congress, according to sources.) He did so because he is a bully, and bullies never play well with others.
Okie Funk calls for a bully smackdown on Inhofe. Can you imagine the damage to the state’s image if Inhofe is elected to another six-year term? The chamber of commerce types can chirp all they want about economic development and lower taxes for corporations, but do you realize how much Inhofe’s bizarre behavior has cost us already? Inhofe is the albatross around Oklahoma’s neck.
I call on State Sen. Andrew Rice to lead this smackdown by running against Inhofe in the 2008 election. Please sign the petition urging Andrew to run.
Why Does The Corporate Media Ignore It?
The Washington Post today is running a story that shows how nearly 90 White House employees, including Senior Advisor Karl Rove, used political email accounts for official government business.
This email accounts were hosted by the Republican National Committee and apparently violate rules that require the employees use official communication channels to conduct business.
The real gist of story and the larger meaning is the White House is running a secret government that does not allow any immediate or historical public scrutiny. The implications of this practice are enormous. If this practice is allowed to legally stand, government at all levels in this country will be allowed to conduct business outside public purview.
How members of the corporate media or any reasonable person can see this as anything but another step towards secret government, which we might even call fascist, is simply beyond me. I realize The Post did the story, and that is great, but will they press it? Will other corporate media outlets see the danger of this non-partisan issue that threatens democracy? If a Democrat is elected president in 2008, will she or he follow the lead of Bush? Why should only Republicans escape the rule of law?
Bush’s devastating impact on the presidency and on democracy in this country cannot be understated.