At its May 2010 meeting, the Executive Council approved the following open letter to Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona.
Dear Governor Brewer,
We write regarding legislative and policy initiatives in the State of Arizona that concern us as teachers and scholars of language and literature. You have recently signed legislation (SB 1070) that may place nonnative speakers of English and speakers of other languages in legal jeopardy. In addition, we understand that the Arizona Department of Education has decided to bar teachers from teaching English if they speak English with an accent. Furthermore, you have signed legislation (HB 2281) critical of ethnic studies curricula.
These actions raise several concerns regarding education and language, topics at the heart of the mission of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA). We urge you to keep the following in mind as the State of Arizona pursues its education policy:
(1) There is no rational basis for making language ability an indicator of an individual’s citizenship or residency status. This is especially the case in the United States, where many different languages are spoken on a daily basis. The MLA documents this diversity of language speakers in the United States with its Language Map (http://www.mla.org/map_main), which we urge you to consult. Many native as well as immigrant populations use languages other than English, and English language fluency is, of course, hardly restricted to the United States: a speaker of English is not necessarily a United States citizen or legal resident.
(2) Native and nonnative speakers alike always display considerable variation in accent. This fact holds for speakers of American English—compare accents from the Northeast with those from the Southwest—as well as for speakers of other languages. Indeed, there is no unaccented English. There are only speakers with different accents. It therefore makes little sense to bar individuals from teaching because they “have an accent,” since accent is always unavoidable. Efforts to exclude individuals on the basis of accent will likely be arbitrary and discriminatory. The recruitment and retention of effective teachers should not be impeded by concerns that are irrelevant to the important goal of facilitating student learning.
(3) For several decades, ethnic studies curricula have provided important gateways for students to learn about the diversity of heritages in the United States, a key educational goal of the liberal arts education that is the bedrock of American higher education. The field has developed sophisticated pedagogies that stretch across the humanities and the social sciences, providing significant insights into American history and society. Students in ethnic studies classes gain an appreciation for a wealth of cultural expression in literature and the arts and a recognition of the multiple traditions that have found a home in our nation. Policies that curtail this vision will weaken the quality of education, thereby depriving students of key learning opportunities as they move on to higher education institutions.
Because citizens of the United States speak many different languages in addition to English, because every speaker of every language has an accent, and because ethnic studies is important to contemporary American education, we urge you to work toward reversing the policy decisions we cited at the beginning of this letter.
The MLA would be delighted to cooperate with you to formulate educational and language policies that are based on sound research and scholarship and that reflect the state of the art in contemporary American education.
Many U.S. cities across this nation have taken a respectable stance against the state of Arizona for its “immigration law.”
Austin, TX became the latest in a growing list of cities that are boycotting Arizona in some capacity to protest the law, which makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires local law enforcement to ask for documentation from people they suspect are in the country illegally.
A List of Great Cities in Support of Boycotting Arizona (or are considering to boycott AZ and its so-called immigration law):
San Francisco, CA
West Hollywood, CA
El Paso, TX
St. Paul, MN
St. Paul, MN
Baldwin Park, CA
South el Monte, CA
Santa Cruz, CA
And the list continues to grow!
The slogan is “Wake Up and Stand Up.” The mission statement declares that the federal government is “not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges we face as Americans.”
U.S. Army veteran Alan P. Alborn expands upon his thoughts found on the Coffee Party USA YouTube channel:
You might remember the two videos featuring me that Moon Howler posted on the anti-BVBL website earlier this week. I was approached by Annabel Park ant Eric Byler for the past couple of weeks asking to discuss my view of the world. There was no “set-up”, no “prompting”, no “feeling me out to see how I felt about the world”… frankly, they just wanted to learn what “an old white guy” thought about the state of our Government. I qualify. They conducted a straight and professional interview. It’s my opinion that they did a “fair and balanced” piece that accurately captured my thoughts about a variety of subjects. The first video is now all over the internet… so I’ve gotten my fifteen minutes of fame. I was humbled by the product.
To my surprise (because of the subject, not the Producers), they created a couple of pretty good videos and posted them on their youtube website http://www.youtube.com/user/coffeepartyusaand Facebook. That was followed by a get together with a Washington Post reporter who just watched us in action and an article in the Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/25/AR2010022505517.html After the article in the Washington Post appeared, something interesting happened… people started establishing local chapters and signing up on Facebook to learn more. The last time I checked http://www.facebook.com/coffeeparty?ref=ss , the number of people signed up was approaching 18,000 with chapters in well over half of the states (and growing by the minute).
So, here’s my question. Do you think we should start a Coffee Party here in Prince William County? I’m an “old soldier” who thought I had fought my last battle; however, I’m beginning to think that perhaps I have one more battle in me. This battle would be to try to go against the forces of the status quo, the Neocons from the last century, the groups who would like to turn personal religious beliefs into public policy, the people who don’t recognize the value of a multicultural society and the fact that America isn’t lily white any more (and that’s ok), and any other group who hasn’t quite made it across Midnight, 1 January 2001 to step into the twenty-first Century.
Any group is the sum of its parts. The Coffee Party is growing quickly and absorbing a variety of views and opinions. The one thing we all agree on is that Government has to change… and we would like it to change for the better instead of rolling back to the last Century. I would appreciate your thoughts. I’m not hiding behind an alias; however, I respect your privacy and will engage in any respectful conversation.
If I get a lot of positive response, I would propose that those of us interested get together and throw our first Coffee Party to decide what’s next. Ask your friends and tell them about this site. I am not happy with the way America is going and don’t plan to sit this one out. I think I’ll find the energy for one more battle… this could be the big one.
I fall back upon my classic standards of political partisanship and playing to the left-base, but in truth I am not satisfied by this in the least.
We don’t need word-wars over labeling and branding, we need solutions for America that work.
We don’t need more spin and more talking points, we need honest debate and informed decision making.
What Coffee Party USA offers is civility and a place for democracy to take place in a honest fashion.
I encourage any person who has formed an opinion of me that is one of “ultra-left” to understand I was most moved by U.S. Army veteran Alan P. Alborn’s words that anything I have seen in a very long time.
I understand far more about what motives are behind conservatives and libertarians than I let on and ultimately my views are no different from Alborn’s views in regards to the matter of the free market or the size of government.
This is one element that was always part of what makes me “independent,” and I am tired of being brought nearly to tears dealing with these Tea Party activists who seek to do nothing more than rewrite history and stop all rational debate while neglecting the more important issues of health care and insurance reform.
The Coffee Party is the answer we have been looking for to send the message to Washington that we sent them there to get something done, not just play procedural games while Americans suffer.
We’ll see if they even want me around, they have a statement about “no pundits and partisans and strategists” … that’s me three for three. But punditry can be declared, partisanship can be avoided and they will want my strategies if they ever give me a chance to share them … so maybe I am reading too much into that statement.
I encourage you to join the Coffee Party, too!
We are a group of concerned Americans who want government “that responds to the needs of the majority of its citizens as expressed by our votes and by our voices; NOT corporate interests as expressed by misleading advertisements and campaign contributions.”
(other “dupe” web-groups have already begun to spawn in response to the Coffee Party, only these websites are Coffee Party Movement)
I realize I am casting myself unto outcast island with my support of the Afghan Surge, but this was exactly the policy I was advocating the president take in the first place. A increase in troops only under the predication of a withdrawal time line and clear goals set that are attainable. In essence the nation building that they do, that they don’t want to call nation building, needs to be either stabilized or abandoned. That is the hard truth of the matter, like any other war that we start as a nation we must come to bring it to an end-point.
It sounds rather strange, but I reject the rejection of the proposed draw-down in 2011 as being nothing but a smoke-screen or a political ruse on the left. Even in the announcement of this policy it sparked immediate reaction from President Karzai in terms of a statement about not being ready to handle security for “fifteen years.” That, of course, is absurd but it proves that much needed pressure is being applied for Karzai to take up a stronger level of national security in Afghanistan. There is also the larger foreign policy issue in terms of the surrounding regions being aware that the US is there to fight, but not there to stay on into infinity. Senator John McCain, who aspired to the highest office and did not take the seat that would have made this very decision, disagreed on this point of the Obama war policy utterly and advised against it in his “wisdom.” Then finally we have the matter of simple follow-through in terms of the campaigning in 2008 over Afghanistan being the “right war” from the Obama camp.
Many view it as Obama has placed himself in a box of being trapped to deliver on campaign promises, but I believe his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize was by far the most important and the most revealing speech of his entire political career. He placed himself on one side of an old argument started long ago by Saint Augustine as to if there is such a thing as a “just war” and I happen to be of the view that there is no such thing as this. However, if you remove that element of theological disagreement between President Obama and myself then I believe this speech answers almost every point of contention coming from the left toward the Afghanistan war policy.
This not the policy of a dove, any more than this is a policy of a hawk.
What we must avoid is creating the power vacuum of our sudden absence but at the same balance that fact that you and me everyone else is sick of war and just done with it for no real reason beyond just that. Which is good! But let’s do it right. Let’s bring about an actual “end-game” to this war and if deadlines are extended and we are left with “half a war” as we have in Iraq then I say that it still better than the McCain / Bush policy of “muddling through” in Afghanistan.
I am far from beating the war drums over here and as I have stated before my heart just cries out to “bring them home now!” but there is element of rationality that needs to be applied here to anything that is within the realms of war policy discussions. I am yet another of these “not a dove, nor a hawk” individuals who seek balance out an ugly reality against desires for peace. My support of “troop surges” and “soft power solutions” dissolves quickly as deadlines become discarded like the public option or when the troop increases become “like a drink of water” but as this policy stands I believe that we have to give these strategies a chance to work in order to ensure a future that might finally see an end to the war.
I’m certainly willing to admit to a possibly overly optimistic view on the matter, but I think this was the right policy for Afghanistan as the situation stands now.
My political predictions have once again proven true.
I predicted at the onset of the national and Congressional debate over health care coverage in the US that we would see a bill pass both House and Senate but that it would a “watered-down” bill that addressed preexisting conditions and state-to-state plan probability more than it addressed the larger problem of controlling costs.
This Senate bill hardly resembles what I would call “sweeping reform.”
In the course of the debate over the past few months I was in the “incrementalism-reform camp” that was frustrating my fellow Democrats advocating for single-payer, but in the end this bill will fall into indeed too small a step. I was only saying along with others that we have studied government and nothing this big is done all at once. However, like I have heard many say, I would have liked to get a lot more out this process.
The last time I spoke of this I was urging Harry Reid for “reconciliation” in the Senate; without the civics lesson needed here it is quicker to say that once the public option was removed from the table, the process of reconciliation was removed as well.
To encapsulate what is going on this country: we are a constipated nation when it comes to social programs.
There is the very real ideological constipation against positive social reforms dating back to the days of FDR and further still. Then there is the constipation specific to this issue of the monopolistic health insurance companies spreading public disinformation like the stuff is on sale. This, and other factors like Sara “Death Panels” Palin and Glenn “Fearmonger-in-Chief” Beck, make this one of the most hostile environments one could possibly hope to create against pro-reform activities.
The entire experience feels like we pro-reformists have fallen flat on our face and bloodied our nose, which would be correct. But I remind everyone sharing with me in this feeling that we did just run head-first into a brick wall of highly funded anti-reformism.
We have made history in the US Congress in that we have finally cracked the brick wall against fixing a system that every informed person agrees desperately needs reform. To shatter this brick wall is a much larger task and the true importance of these recent national debates over health care coverage has been the value of flushing the wolves out into the open more than it was about the larger picture.