Demonstrating the Republican House Majority’s firm commitment to jobs creation while leaving divisive social issues behind, Mazeppa’s Steve Drazkowski has introduced a bill to make English the North Star state’s official language.
While I’m not certain of job creation potential in The Draz’s bill as written (his rationale for the bill is found here on his campaign website), it will dial back on over 150 years of official tolerance in Minnesota for speakers of languages other than English. In 1896, election instructions were printed in nine different languages, including Polish, the language of Draz’s ancestors.
I shorten his name, a standard practice employed by the representative and candidate himself. The cost-savings of such a move are also explored in an op-ed piece by WSU English department member Chuck Ripley in today’s Winona Daily news, Let’s outlaw lunch meat while we’re at it.
Like members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints who seek out ancestors in order to include them in the “saving ordinances” of their faith, Ripley playfully suggests that the bill could require reparations from all people whose ancestors ever spoke languages other than English on Minnesota soil:
The bill must also make it a penalty for not speaking English at any time, applying it not only to the living but also to all of our grandparents, great-grandparents, who did not speak English or spoke it poorly.
The living descendants of these foreign-word smugglers ought to have enough shame to pay for any cost that the language of their ancestors did to our society with any legislative action. But as many people today remember these foreign words with misplaced nostalgia, the force of law will be required to instill a proper amount of embarrassment at one’s non-English-speaking ancestry and the social and financial harm their bizarre languages did to us all.
The least such people can do is to change their foreign-sounding last names to clear, simple English ones. The Minnesota Polish population alone costs the state millions in extra ink and paper with their long last names and harsh-sounding combination of consonants. . .
Would Draz challenge that? Only The Draz can answer that.
Ripley does suggest adding a job-creation angle to the bill:
Finally, as an English professor, I hope that Drazkowski will include an amendment to deputize English teachers to enforce the rules and customs of the language and the power to levy fines, imprison and deport all users of foreign languages as well as those who offer facile and divisive solutions to real problems.
Surely, with that added public safety responsibility, class sizes in MNSCU composition and developmental English classes would have to be smaller, requiring new hires across the state.