News+Opinion » D. A. Smith

The immigration debate spurs all kinds of silliness at the Senate

The Return of the Nativists

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Last week the South Carolina General Assembly opened its doors, and the elected membership quickly got down to picking up where they left off — acting like idiots while we foot the bill.

Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) introduced legislation calling for a U.S. Constitutional Convention to make illegal immigration even more illegal. He also submitted a bill that would make English the official language of South Carolina and require all state and civic publications be made manifest in English alone, particularly anything coming out the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Again, I would venture that "Uh-mur-rikin" might be apropos, but then no one would understand my point.

Currently, state DMV manuals and tests are printed in English, Spanish, French, and German. I wonder how all those Krauts providing them real nice BeeMmDubyew jobs up in Sparkle City took the news of McConnell's bill, but given their history, I doubt much will be made of this topic.

McConnell's proposed legislation sailed through the Senate Judiciary subcommittee along party lines with a sole dissenter. During what I will diplomatically refer to as the debate period of the hearing, things got all hot and illogical with some old-fashioned name-calling and off-color remarks about people of color. Sen. Randy Scott (R-Dorchester) called Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) a "bleeding heart liberal" for Sheheen's opposition to the bill.

Sigh ... I wish these jokers would update their insults. I mean really, it's been a long time since Reagan-era rhetoric had a bite.

Sen. Jim Ritchie (R-Spartanburg) asserted that drivers who can't read English are unsafe. Sheheen retorted that illiterate South Carolinians posed the same threat as foreign language speakers. (I would counter that a quick look at the numbers tells us that drivers in South Carolina that can read English are unsafe as well. Andre Bauer, anyone?)

What followed this exchange can only be characterized as one of the more blatant examples of bias by state lawmakers since the anti-gay marriage amendment crusade two years back.

Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) asserted that illegal immigrants want to replace the American democratic republic with a dictatorship akin to that of Hugo Chavez's Venezuela saying that this "is a value so foreign to our vision of government."

Huh? I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one given the tenor of his remarks and Campsen's history of endorsing what I'll loosely refer to as constrictive social policies.

Scott came in from left ... no, make that right field by commenting, "We're losing this country a little bit at a time" and went on to suggest that Puerto Ricans were to blame for this. According to Scott, "They get the same benefits we get, but guess what? [Puerto Ricans] don't pay taxes."

He added, "The heck with that!"

Uh, Randy, isn't that what you want for this little banana republic that we call home?

Sheheen stated for the record, "I don't want us in our rush to do something about the illegal immigration problem to do something that will hurt those who are legally here."

It seems to be clear as day that what this nonsense is about has nothing to do with whether or not official publications in South Carolina are printed in English or not. After all, in order to get a state driver's license, an individual has to provide proof of citizenship or legal residency from the get-go.

McConnell and his boys are simply griping about a perceived loss of political influence, and it's easier to blame a bunch of dark-skinned folks for this than it is to turn their laser beams on their own ineffectiveness as leaders. Besides, immigration is a matter for the feds and not a bunch of sanctimonious state legislators who think Margaret Mitchell was a nonfiction writer.

We get the leaders we deserve, and if people don't even bother to register to vote, then we're guaranteed more of this kind of taxpayer dollar waste from our elected representation.

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