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Published:February 23rd, 2010 13:04 EST

Tom Tancredo's Tea Party Tantrum

By Geoff Dean

 Former Colorado Congressman and Anti-Immigrant Presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo, controversial as always, headlined the recent "Tea Party" convention in Nashville, Tennessee, stealing some of the limelight from Sarah Palin and others. The man called the "Tea Party Crack Pot" by Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune had some comments on Barack Obama`s election victory.

 He claimed that Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country," and that many Obama voters could not speak English or spell the word "vote". In other words, it is all because of immigrants (read Hispanics). He furthermore suggested dissolution of the Congressional Black Caucus and opined that immigrants are "coming here to kill you and me and my grandchildren."

 A return to "Jim Crow"-style literacy tests? Besides disenfranchising Dan Quayle and the state of Arkansas (I`m going to get some complaints for that one, I bet), what good would it do? Seriously, do we want to head down the road to reduced democracy by requiring passage of a test to gain voting rights. Who is going to write this "literacy test" and how can it possibly kept fair and non-partisan? Do people who can`t speak English or can`t speak it well have less right to be concerned with the future of our nation? Even if they are citizens? What about non-immigrants who are poor at spelling, illiterate, etc. Should they be denied voting rights, too? Would this not actually eliminate a good part of the "Tea Party Base"?

 If someone has gained US citizenship, how can we deny them the right to vote? I`d like to hear from anyone on that one. Well, not really.....

 Beyond that, the idea of immigrants as bogeymen and bogeywomen, coming to attack us, is all too common in the world today (Islam overrunning Europe, Chinese overrunning South East Asia, etc., etc.) But it is especially disheartening to hear it from the land of immigrants that is America. Remember the melting pot (salad bowl), anyone? Senor Tancredo, himself, judging from his name, is of some form of ethnic background. At some point, his ancestors were immigrants, were they not? Did they come to destroy our country and kill our grandchildren? Did they speak perfect English when they arrived here?

 Was George Washington dangerous? He surely had an immigrant background. In America, who doesn`t? Except, of course, Native Americans, whom I`m pretty sure Monsieur Tancredo would like to disenfranchise as well if he could.

 In Japan, where I, an American, currently live, a proposal has been put forward to give voting rights to permanent resident aliens (I am not a Japanese citizen but have gotten my "green card" of permanent residence since my spouse is Japanese and I have lived here for more than 20 years). The idea is that even "foreigners" living in Japan long term have a stake in the decisions of the government and should be given voting rights. I don`t know if it will pass or not but it is a step in the opposite direction of most other countries and deserves respect. While some push America to stray further from the bedrock of democracy, Japan is making moves to become even more open and responsible to "We, the people."

 As for Herr Tancredo, he can feel free to join the tea in Boston Harbor!