Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Helping Lino Lakes take baby steps

Most of the readers here know about Lino Lakes’ new ordinance prohibiting the use of city funds for translating city documents into a language other than English. Even though the city has never spent any money at all on translation, not even for a “Curb your Dog” sign in Spanish in front of city hall.

Shortly after it was adopted, Aaron wrote a great post about the ordinance, noting that the Lino Lakes mayor compared threat of immigrants to that posed by the emerald ash borer:

Right now we have zero expense in the city for emerald ash borer. And yet we're spending all kinds of time, staff time, no doubt eventually money, for a problem that doesn't exist. But it's something in the future you can see.

Really smooth, this mayor of Lino Lakes, no?

Be sure to read Aaron’s post, if you haven’t, and even if you have, to read (again) about one Lino Lakes resident’s complaint that he was tired of hearing foreign languages spoken at Denny’s, or whatever fine dining establishment this fellow frequents.

When this ordinance was adopted, the questions I had was, where did this come from?

What are the chances that it just dawned on city leaders and residents of Lino Lakes that the threat to city coffers was so great — in spite of zero evidence, unlike even the threat of the ash borers — that the city needed to act preemptively?

If you thought that the city leaders hatched this idea on their own, you’ve got more faith in the imagination of the average exurban city councilor than I do.

Well, of course, they didn’t come up with it on their own.

As the Minnesota Independent reports:

A decision by the Twin Cities suburb of Lino Lakes to make English its official language is under attack for its perceived  hostility towards immigrants to the US. Suspicions of an anti-immigrant agenda seem to be underlined by revelations that the city’s resolution was written with the help of Virginia-based ProEnglish, an organization with the stated goal of making English the official language of the American government.

But it’s a lot more sinister than that. John Tanton, the Michigan doctor behind Pro-English, is also behind Numbers USA, an anti-immigration group, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Ten years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified thirteen anti-immigrant and nativist groups associated with Tanton, calling him The Puppeteer.

On finding out a little more about ProEnglish, the Lino Lakes councilor who originally proposed the ordinance said:

[Dave] Roeser said he didn't know anything about ProEnglish's ties to Tanton's other groups -- or his controversial message.

"I'm just shocked that this organization would have any ties to anybody like that," Roeser said. "It's news to me. And this had nothing to do with immigration. And if anything, I'm in favor of immigration. I'm the offspring of immigrants myself."

I was duped, says Roeser!

And you know, maybe he probably was. This is the way that these hate groups operate. You can’t expect people to go full-bore nativist right out of the box. They have to be given an easy entry into the movement. Nativism Light. That’s why guys like Tanton run baby natavist organizations like ProEnglish.

Later, people can be moved to the heavier-duty groups like Numbers USA or FAIR.

Dave Neiwert described the process and the strategy in some detail in his book The Eliminationists. It’s actually a pretty sophisticated strategy.

ProEnglish is out there trolling for the dupes; it appears they caught some in Lino Lakes. The question is now that they are de-duped, what will Lino Lakes do?

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