(Maskoke is the Creek word for Muskogee and lekwe means rotten, according to the Creek Language Archive.)
A bill that would make English the state’s official language is institutionalized racism and a targeted slap in the face to Oklahoma’s Hispanic and Native American communities.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. George Faught, a Republican from Muskogee, would require that all state business be enacted in English. This would include drivers’ license tests and, apparently, social and health services and documents as well. It would primarily create hassles and suffering for the state’s growing Hispanic community, though all non-English speaking people would find life more difficult in Oklahoma if the bill passes
Symbolically, the English-only effort absolutely ignores the state’s rich history, which includes the contributions of Native American tribes, many of which were forced from their land and sent here by the federal government before statehood. These tribes have their own unique, centuries-old languages and customs that would be shamefully dishonored by this bill. Consequently, some tribes have come out against the bill.
The bill is part of the GOP’s continuing political strategy to anger people about The Other. It aims to cast suspicions and distrust on anyone who is not white and does not speak English. As the country and the state becomes more diverse, the Oklahoma and national GOP must set up a false enemy, or The Other, to blame for their corporate-worshipping policies that keep wages stagnant and health costs high for the middle class.
Along with creating basic human hardship, the bill would also be costly for two other reasons:
(1) It will show the country and the world that a majority of Oklahomans are intolerant of people from other cultures with different languages. This could cost the state in economic development. Potential businesses will see us as a place of hicks and racists. This is a particularly horrid bill to pass during our centennial when we want to draw attention to our accomplishments, not the deep-seated bigotry in our history.
(2) It sends a message to our children that learning and studying languages other than English is not worth the time or effort. It creates a law that actually sanctions intellectual ignorance. If we don’t expose our children to other languages, we hold them back from participating in the world.
(Update: The U.S. House of Representatives voted 246-182 Friday in favor of a resolution denouncing President George Bush's escalation of American troops in the continuing Iraq occupation.)
"We owe it to the men and women of our armed forces to pursue a policy that offers them the best possible chance of success—not a plan that repeats past mistakes.”—U.S. Rep. Dan Boren.
Democrats will reaffirm America’s basic constitutional structures Friday in the most important political vote in at least a generation.
The U.S. House of Representatives has been debating a short resolution criticizing Bush’s escalation of the gruesome Iraq occupation the last few days. This is a much needed discussion created by the November elections in which voters spoke clearly they want an end to President George Bush’s botched debacle. A vote on the resolution is scheduled Friday. Some Republican House members are expected to join Democrats in passing the measure.
The only Oklahoma Congressional member on the right side of history in this greatest vote in a generation is U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat who spoke eloquently in favor of the resolution during the debate.
Adopting the modus operandi of their unethical leader, many GOP members are consistently lying in their presentations, using straw-man and red-herring arguments and, of course, presenting contradictory points. How did some of these illogical, angry corporate toadies, liberty-haters, and Bushbots become empowered in our democracy when they obviously stand against democracy as a basic concept and philosophy?
Let’s dissect some of the GOP lies in the debate:
GOP Lie #1: The resolution helps terrorists. Nothing in the resolution mentions our fight against terrorists throughout the world, and the only reason outside terrorists are in Iraq is because of the incompetent war planning by the Bush administration. The Bushies have also sided with a Shiite government in Iraq that is sympathetic to anti-American interests in Iran. Consequently, given our current occupation strategy, an escalation of troops only supports terrorists in organizations such as Al-Qaeda.
GOP Lie #2: By standing against the resolution, the GOP supports committing enough troops to stabilize Iraq. In fact, not a single Republican has come forward with a valid plan to institute a draft in order to deplore the half million troops needed to get the job done. It’s the GOP which lacks plans, not the Democrats. Many Democrats favor a phased redeployment. They realize the country citizens will not allow the government to establish a draft for the occupation.
GOP Lie #3: The resolution does not support the troops. But a majority of troops and their families, according to a recent poll, do not support the president’s plans for Iraq. They want to come home. They know the occupation will not work. The resolution very much supports a majority view of what the troops think about Bush’s handling of his misguided occupation.
GOP Lie #4: The resolution emboldens our enemies throughout the world. No, what emboldens our enemies is American quasi-fascism and neoconservatism. In the past six years, the country transformed itself from a democracy of checks and balances into an imperial-presidency form of government established to benefit war profiteers, such as Halliburton. That's how the world thinks of us now. But democratic debate and free speech will always be our country’s most important asset.
GOP Lie #5: The resolution is really an attempt to micromanage the war. This one is laughable. The resolution is staggeringly significant in terms of symbolic value, a first step back to a constitutional democratic republic, but it’s a nonbinding measure, and it does nothing to cut off or limit funding for the occupation.
GOP Lie #6: The resolution is just a meaningless political game because it’s nonbinding. This is another laughable point and contradicts the GOP Lie #5. The resolution has created the first open debate about the Iraq occupation in five years. It’s intellectually dishonest to call that meaningless. A majority of Americans disagree with Bush’s handling of the Iraq occupation, and they desperately want this debate. And so what is it? Is it micromanaging or just political crap? The Republicans want it both ways, of course.
GOP Lie #7: It’s wrong to even debate the occupation in the House and Senate because Congress shouldn’t ever question military decisions made by the commander-in-chief. But then what is the role of Congress? Why even have one? Each GOP member who speaks against debating all components of the bloody occupation essentially speaks against the core principles of our democracy.
The Republicans don’t want a debate because they have been so dreadfully wrong about the Iraq occupation for five years now. Of course they don’t want to be held accountable for the needless deaths of thousands and thousands of American soldiers and innocent Iraqis or the $370 billion already spent on the occupation. What’s the political gain in truth for these people? Better to risk it all, and, by extension, all of us, and our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.
America has not been so challenged by such reckless and blind presidential and Congressional leadership since the Vietnam War era. The November elections changed that. If America, using its democratic structures, can now correct its error—the Iraq occupation—it will be the greatest story of democratic affirmation and people power in a generation. That story is the best weapon against those who wish us harm, not bombs.
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Lance’s Lege Begins
Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill’s petty move to ban a Norman legislator from serving on an important committee that is vital to his district shows again how Republicans consistently put politics above people in the state.
Cargill (R-Harrah) has denied a request by state Rep. Wallace Collins (D-Norman) to serve on the mental health subcommittee. Collins’ House District 45 is home to Griffin Memorial Hospital, a mental health facility. Traditionally, legislators from the district serve on mental health committees, according to Collins, who has complained publicly about Cargill's action.
But this doesn’t matter to Cargill, of course. Collins beat Thad Balkman, a religious extremist who wants to force Oklahomans to live under his narrow-minded views, for the House seat last November.
So here’s the kicker: Cargill and Balkman, two slick buddies, are operating the mysterious 100 Ideas initiative, which will not reveal its funding because government is secret in Oklahoma these days. The initiative seems designed to further Cargill’s and Balkman’s political careers and bolster the GOP chances to further dominate the Lege in years to come.
So Cargill and the Oklahoma power structure reward the religious fanatic and election loser Balkman but won’t even let Collins serve on a significant committee for his district. Collins won the election. Balkman lost. Essentially, it means secret individuals or corporations operate the political landscape here, not voters in Norman or elsewhere. What else is new?
Here’s an idea for your secret He-Man Woman Haters Club and its 100 big shot ideers, Cargill: Give Democracy a chance. Put Collins on the committee.
What’s The Secret Handshake, Lance?
Speaking of the He-Man Woman Haters Club, the 100 Ideas initiative announced its advisory board recently.
Its public relations firm, The Daily Oklahoman, said this about the secret funding issue in its release about the big event: “Funding for the project is still unknown, as private donations made to the initiative have not been made public” (“Advisors selected to sift 100 ideas for legislation,” February 10, 2007).
What a joke. People and organizations throughout the state, including the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper, have called on the initiative to reveal its funding, but The Oklahoman declines to recognize this reality because it’s a biased, right-wing, propagandistic tool of big corporations and religious fanatics.
(Update: According to a Feb. 14 story in The Daily Oklahoman, Balkman says he will start to release donor information at the end of March in the form of a quarterly report. But this is just more politics. Why wait? And why are the people funding this organization so reticent to step forward and identify themselves?)