‘This Is Alabama; We Speak English’
“This is Alabama; we speak English,” James says. “If you want to live here, learn it.”
Tim James is betting his election that Alabama voters prefer what he calls “common sense” to “political correctness.” The Republican gubernatorial candidate is running a provocative ad arguing that Alabama’s driver’s license exam should be given only in English.
The son of former Alabama Gov. Fob James promises to do away with the 12 foreign languages the test currently offers if he is elected in November. In the ad, James suggests his goal is to save taxpayers money. “Maybe it’s the businessman in me,” he says.
In the blogosphere, though, many say the controversial ad is about far more than saving taxpayers money and contains coded political messages James hopes will strike a chord with Republican voters in the state.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder said it contains swipes against the federal government and President Barack Obama. Ambinder also noted that Alabama could lose federal funding if it offers the exams only in English.
“If the governor changes the rules, the state could lose billions of dollars in federal transportation funding,” he wrote. “Conveniently, this allows James to hint at the prospect of a debate against Barack Obama’s federal government, too.”
Some say it is no mistake that the ad comes in the middle of an emotional debate over immigration reform.
The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama said the ad would hurt the state’s reputation. “Making the driver’s license test available in English only is a bad move and inconsistent with the strong recruitment Alabama has done in the last 15 years to bring international business to our state,”