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4.29.2010

"this is alabama; we speak english."

While everyone's attention is turned to the incendiary immigration debate in Arizona, here's another story about good old-fashioned thinly-disguised American xenophobia, coming out of the great state of Alabama: 'This is Alabama; we speak English,' governor candidate says.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James has vowed in a new campaign ad that if he's elected, he'll give the state driver's license exam only in English, as a cost-saving measure. The money quote: "This is Alabama; we speak English. If you want to live here, learn it."

It's not clear how James thinks the change would save the state money. In fact, if the governor changes the rules, Alabama could actually lose billions of dollars in federal transportation funding:
Mr., James explains that exams in a multitude of language may endear people to the "Rachel Maddow" crowd, but he's going to fight against political correctness. Besides, he says, it's a public safety issue because traffic signs are in English. There's a little wrinkle here: there's a reason why Alabama has its exams in many different languages, and if the governor changes the rules, the state could lose billions of dollars in federal transportation funding. Conveniently, this allows James to hint at the prospect of a debate against Barack Obama's federal government, too. The issue seems legit, if marginally so, but the ethnic coding in the ad is unmistakable, especially because it's not the type of thing that voters in Alabama would care about unless someone deigned to bring it to their attention. If the name "James" and "Alabama governor" seem familiar, well, they should: Tim is the son of Fob, a former governor.
Driver's license exams are currently given in Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. But seriously, did anyone in Alabama actually care either way? Not until this clown came along to pander to the English-only crowd. Make no mistake -- this too, is all about immigration.