Another reason I’m glad I moved

Remember how Arizona wanted to instate horribly racist anti-immigration laws, and there was national uproar, from protests to boycotts? Well, apparently Indiana didn’t want to be left out of all the fun (emphasis mine):

A state lawmaker thinks it’s time Indiana followed Arizona’s lead in cracking down on illegal immigration — and wants to go even further by barring the use of any language but English in most government transactions.[…]

Like Arizona, the bill requires a state or local law enforcement officer who stops anyone for a violation of a law or ordinance to ask for proof that the person is here legally if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” the person is not either a citizen or a legal visitor. […]

Most government transactions, documents and meetings must be in English. That means the state would have to end the Spanish-language portal on its website, and stop issuing forms, such as voter registration or absentee ballots, in other languages. Exceptions are made for law enforcement and court proceedings; public health needs; tourism and international trade needs.[…]

The former home of the KKK just can’t be outdone in the battle for most racist state, can they? Come on, it’s a serious problem for Indiana – just look how close it is to the Mexican border. And those illegal immigrants are practically taking over. A whopping 5.5% of “Hoosiers” are Hispanic! They’re doomed!!! Better make sure even the legal immigrants can’t vote by making everything in English, or they’ll surely let all of their buddies in! And THEN where will we be?!

Though the Senator assures us it has nothing to do with race. I’m sure he’s very concerned about all the French speaking Canadians that have been dying to hide out in our corn fields.

Thanks, Indiana. This is why so many people in Seattle look at me with a mixture of horror and pity when I say where I’m from. You’re doing a great job living up to that image.


  1. says

    Thanks for pointing that out about Indiana.I wonder if you know any Klan members or descendants of Klan members when you grew up. According to the wiki article you gave me, a significant number of people are Klan members in the 1920’s.

  2. Jeanette says

    Oh. my. Why?? My great aunt loves to “like” facebook groups like “I shouldn’t have to press one to hear english!” and stuff and I just can’t help but wonder why this has any effect on them. Ultimately, not being a native english speaker in the U.S. only sucks for the not native english speaker. No need to make it more difficult. But then, as someone who has lived in primarily spanish speaking countries, I guess I sympathize more than the typical crazy racist.

  3. joergr says

    Great. Usually, in discussions certain people will start complaining that Germany caters too much to foreigners (meaning mostly the Turkish people that were brought here in the 60s as work force), I will usually mention that in the US, every important sign is AT LEAST in two different languages, and where exactly is there any sign in Turkish in Germany. So now I have to say “Almost everwhere in the US?” or “Do you want to be Indiana?”

  4. says

    You know, this post really made me think. About status quo bias, specifically. How things seem normal for someone because they’ve always been that way — or not normal solely because they weren’t…I’m Israeli, and I’m an immigrant from the former SU. In Israel, Russians (like me) are 12% of the population. You hear Russian everywhere there. You can totally expect to get service in Russian in a store, library or clinic. BUT… they don’t offer any Russian in government services. Not websites, not forms, not voting ballots! And so far I haven’t met a single Israeli (Russian speaker or not) who thought that this is wrong somehow. On the contrary, I think they’d be very surprised by the suggestion. I’m not saying that some little old lady should have to learn Hebrew in order to get treated for her back pain — but if she wants to vote, then yes, she’d better learn at least something! Heck, my grandmother did! I did. Everyone here did. Actually, I’m offended, as an immigrant, at the suggestion that a country should be obligated to accomodate my native language. Bullshit! I came to Israel, I learned Hebrew. I’ll move to Canada soon — guess what, I won’t expect them to speak Russian either.And this attitude is very different from racism (or cultural intolerance). Here is an example of intolerance, from the same country: I was walking down the street speaking Russian with my bf, and some idiot passerby lamented how wrong it was that two officers in the Israeli army speak Russian like that (!!). See, *that* was assholery and intolerance. I have a right to my language, I’m free to use it. But that doesn’t mean somebody else *has to* use it, to accomodate me! You understand the difference?And regarding ids — well, this one is always funny to Israelis. You see, in our country you can’t get into a shopping mall without someone going through your bag! Showing your id and opening your bag became a routine relfex for us. (Yes, in Israel carrying your id is mandatory, and you have to present it to the authorities when asked). Not because they are after the illegal immigrants — they are after terrorists. And so everyone understands how important these security measures are, and nobody complains. It’s difficult for me to try and look impartially, in an unbiased way, at the question “Is it normal to be expected to carry your id at all times and show it?” I just don’t know! Honestly — yes, I think it is. Maybe I’m wrong. But I’m sure it doesn’t make me a racist, Jen.That’s another thing in this post that reminded me strongly of Israel. You see, Israelis (right wing ones, especially) have a knee jerk reaction when a foreigner disagrees somehow with their politics. “You’re being antisemitic!” they say. Funny how quickly this come up, and how a person is often helpless to fend off the accusations of anisemitism and explain his disagreement…Similarly, a person can disagree with you on the illegal immigrant issue, and not be a racist. Specifically, I disagree! I don’t feel qualified to debate the topic regarding the US, but here in Israel, illegal immigrants are a huge problem (as opposed to the legal ones, who are a blessing).

  5. says

    The old me would have said “It’s Amurrica, learn our language or leave it!”But the new me is quite apathetic towards the whole immigration issue. I can’t see why anyone would want to come to this country, being in the mess its in. The older I get the more I want to get out of here.

  6. says

    John Birch Society is an organization for American anti-communist fascists. John Birch is a missionary that fought the communists in China along with the nationalists (nationalist = fascist) led by Chiang Kai-shek, who has a son trained as a Nazi soldier in Germany and some of his soldiers trained by the Germans.Not long ago that, I found out the white supremacists were considered to side with Chiang Kai-shek and the Nazi Germany in the WWII. If the events in history played out like that, we would have a world divided between fascism and communism during the WWII. Communists in Russia, the French, and the British would probably lose and fascists would dominate the world after the WWII. Since Christianity and religion came with fascist side, we would have theocratic governments all over the world. White KKKristians, Japanese imperialists, and Nazis would control all aspects of our lives.

  7. Valhar2000 says

    Here in Spain we have Stop signs in english (the word STOP in white on a red background). That’s something, right?Then again, most of our immigrants are from South America, so they speak spanish well enough. As far as I know the african immigrants are not being catered to in any way.

  8. says

    For people from poor countries with corrupt government and bad economic condition, the US seems a lot better and is the only hope for them to have a better life.

  9. ScienceOMFG says

    Well shit, and I thought Arizona had already locked up the most idiotic legislation 2 years in a row.…Now I see it will be a hotly contested fight to the finish. I can’t wait to see what Texas brings to the table

  10. says

    I think there is a difference between a state in the US asking for an ID showing citizenship and Israel asking for someone to show ID. Israel (now I’m just a dopey white guy in the suburbs) seems to be a country surrounded by hostile forces. It makes sense to make sure everyone is safe. However,there is no real safety issue going on in Indiana. Immigrants are not blowing themselves up.I do agree with you that everyone who disagrees with the lefty position on immigration is not a racist. On the other hand, there is a a lot of reasons to reform our current system so that more low skilled workers can enter the country legally. I hear that the Ethiopian Jews get a cool reception in Israel. What’s been your experience?

  11. says

    The U.S. has no official language. What Indiana is trying to do is enforce an official language at their highest level of power, which is state, and trickle it down through the rest of the state’s government. I don’t think they should be able to do that. Do I think people going from one nation to another should have at least a minor grasp on that nation’s primary language? Yes. Myself, where ever I may travel, included.

  12. Gus Snarp says

    Frankly, even with Europe’s growing xenophobia regarding African and Islamic immigrants, you guys still beat us out on acceptance of foreigners. The only signs that are in two languages are informational signs and exit signs, such as the ones on buses and trains. Europe has to cater to international tourists so much that one can usually find someone who speaks your language wherever you go (well, if your language is English that is). I have concerns about Europe though, they don’t have nearly the number of obvious minorities that the U.S. does, and as foreign populations grow, xenophobia does seem to be rising.

  13. Gus Snarp says

    I don’t like this assumption that people are refusing to learn English. That’s just not the case. Learning a language is hard, harder for some than others, and especially hard for older folks. Now suppose you are a legal immigrant to the U.S. but you are Hispanic, or Haitian, or Somali, and you work eighty hours a week at some dirty job to try to improve things for your family. When are you going to learn English? I expect that you’ll learn what you can, and enough to get by, but your children will learn English, and you’ll do your best. Immigrants want to learn English, they’re not refusing, but why should we consciously make an effort to exclude those immigrants from civil society? Why should we try to make life harder for immigrants and international tourists? Because of a false notion that immigrants refuse to speak English?

  14. Gus Snarp says

    Making at least an effort to speak the native tongue can do wonders for your treatment as a tourist too. I never experienced rudeness in Paris, and all I managed to do was order a chicken sandwich in French. My parents visited me in Italy and drove me nuts. It was like they were making a concerted effort not to use any Italian or embrace Italian culture at all. Thankfully none of the places I frequented took this personally or took it out on me.

  15. kareth says

    Those looks of horror/pity are much the reason that I rarely admit to being originally from Mississippi.

  16. Gus Snarp says

    I’m loathe to bring up the Israeli/Palestinian issue, but there’s a great comment I heard from a Palestinian official once, so setting aside if we can all the baggage that comes with this, the official basically said that Israel will eventually come to terms with a two state solution because they desperately want one. The Palestinians and other Muslims in Israel would otherwise grow in population to eventually outnumber Jews, and then they would vote them out of the Knesset and change the Constitution.I don’t know if he was right about that, but I think that’s what many in America fear. The “Mexicans” (and other minorities) will out breed us and take over the country. But it seems to me that if you are afraid of one day being a minority, then the thing to do is to treat minorities well and ensure that that element of our culture is strongly imprinted and difficult to change. Spreading hate and fear will only lead to thoughts of revenge should we become the minority, which could well happen, though I expect that this country will remain too mixed for any other single group to take over the dominant role long exercised by white males protestants.

  17. Screamer77 says

    So, you’re ok with reforming the system so that just low skilled workers can enter? what are they, slaves? Animals? What about regular skilled people, or high skilled people for whom is still pretty much impossible to stay legally in the U.S.? They’re too smart, or educated, so screw them?

  18. Gus Snarp says

    Easy there Sparky. I think he’s just saying that the current system needs to be expanded to include more people, not that the highly skilled people, who often already can get residency shouldn’t be able to.

  19. says

    Are there any Native American reservations in Indiana? Legislation like that could really harm efforts of the local tribes to immerse their children into their original language. I know, because yesterday I was in Helena fighting identical legislation, and one of our top concerns was how it would impact the Assiniboine, Northern Cheyenne, Blackfoot, and Chippewa’s efforts to retain the languages lost in years of institutionalized racism and belief that English and the culture that spoke it de facto was superior.

  20. says

    I protest. Jen, you’re being racist against Canadians. We don’t all speak French. Most of us have no desire to illegally immigrate to Indiana. This is a real outrage and I am RAGE QUITTING your blog.(not really.)

  21. Screamer77 says

    I didn’t mean it that way, I didn’t express myself well. I just meant to point out that it is a little racist to only consider immigrants like that. Believe me getting residency, a work visa, or anything like that is all but easy, it doesn’t happen often at all.

  22. says

    My wife works for a municipality in Massachusetts (she is Youth and Elder Affairs Commissioner) and sees the English as a second language classes full of motivated immigrants. The idea that immigrants don’t want to learn English is, by and large, a myth.

  23. Eric_Rom says

    My British friends seem peculiarly indifferent to learning other languages, sometimes even when they LIVE in non-English speaking countries. It baffles me.

  24. Gus Snarp says

    Do you ride the bus? I don’t specifically remember every bus I’ve ridden in every city, and I’ve never been to Seattle, but every bus in Cincinnati has emergency exit signs in Spanish and English.

  25. Thenastychristian says

    “When you’re part of a sexist, patriarchal religion, often the only source of power you have is in raising a family or helping with social events (cooking, event planning, making sure the Church pot luck runs smoothly). You aren’t supposed to be the bread winner or waste time on other hobbies when you have children to raise. Because of this, leaving your religion makes you lose the only source of power you ever had. You no longer have the social structure of the church, and often times you are alienated from your family.”This assertion is perhaps the most blinkered thing I’ve read all week.Freud falsely thought a person’s libido or the pursuit of pleasure was the source of each person’s fundamental drive. BF Skinner said it was conditioning, a person’s enviro…Alfred Adler, like you, suggested the struggle to gain power, or to retain power (which is your suggestion) helps compensate for these barefooted women’s obvious inferiority complexes…This raw lust for power, as these women fight to dominate their rebellious children, their aimless husbands, their fellow Pot-Luck Dinner contributors, but alas!, alas! never the patriarchal religion they find themselves in, this relentless power striving owns them, and makes ’em stay put in their doomed setting right up to their final hour!Excuse me…are you on drugs? These women are nothing like this. At least, not in the Catholic Church.You have truly entered the land of Woo.Do you just theorize about everything, from afar? I mean have you ever, actually experienced anything Churchy—for lack of a better term?

  26. UrsaMinor says

    Hispanics in Indiana? Pffft! From the Native American point of view, almost everyone in America is an illegal immigrant.

  27. Scarecrow says

    Indiana is a good place to be FROM. Like you I grew up there but moved out into a wider world. I moved in out in 1981. ;)

  28. says

    Indiana got its name from the East Coast Indians that were pushed into this territory. Then Europeans decided they wanted to live here so they pushed them into Oklahoma & South Dakota

  29. says

    That assumes that they feel they have the self-efficacy to survive in an egalitarian society where they don’t have an automatic upper hand. Those that don’t have the experience of scrambling to the middle or top, but just landed there, don’t really know if they could compete or not.

  30. says

    Sure, you may call them Spanish-speakin’ Meskins “Hoosiers” now but if yer not careful you’ll be callin’ yerselfs “Hoosieristas” damn soon.And then us Michiganders will have to build a border fence. Boy, this gits me riled up. And when I git riled up I git hungry. Think I’ll have me some enchiladas.

  31. says

    It also assumes that people are thinking through their reactions, desires, and goals and how to achieve those goals.People are mostly irrational. I think it’s mostly just some kind of automatic defensive reactions against the ‘other’.

  32. says

    There’s definitely a strong case that we were all illegal immigrants. Although if the hispanic immigrants do to us like we did to the Indians, I guess we have every reason to be concerned. ;-)

  33. Kaleberg says

    This would be a tough sell in Massachusetts. They’d have to check everyone who could pass for Irish.

  34. says

    True, Israel provides free Hebrew evening courses to all immigrants, making it a lot easier for them. And it is indeed not easy, especially if you find a niche where all people speak your language, so you basically never have a good incentive to learn anyway… But: if you want to vote, you have to. International tourists don’t vote! Telling someone that in order vote in this country, they have to learn enough of the country’s language to read the damn ballot, does not sound to me as “making life harder” for them… it sounds reasonable.

  35. says

    “I hear that the Ethiopian Jews get a cool reception in Israel. What’s been your experience?”That’s a very good question. I’m afraid I can indeed only give my experience, as I don’t have much data. What I do know is this: Israel received around 72000 Ethiopian immigrants in years 1984-2006. So that now there are about 105,000 of them (around 1.5% of our population). But I don’t think they are doing very well. I don’t see them. That’s a bad sign. Especially in the university. During all my studies in BGU and Technion I haven’t personally encountered a single Ethiopian student. Which means that they are severely underrepresented there (okay, I Googled it: there are about 600 Ethiopian students in all universities of Israel combined, and that even given the fact that they get preferential treatment in two of them. Way too low.) The fact that I don’t see them on the street as well means they live in ghetos (their own neighborhoods), and that’s a bad sign, too. Okay, now I did some half hour research: yes, they are not doing great. Unemployment above general population, education below general population, etc. Not very good. But could be worse, I guess.What you heard regarding “cool reception” meant that the government allocated a lot of money to help receive them. And that is true. They are still getting lots of aid and benefits.”On the other hand, there is a a lot of reasons to reform our current system so that more low skilled workers can enter the country legally.”I wonder how can that be done…

Leave a Reply