Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Crafton Bogus Language Hysteria, Oregon Division

Once again, Eric Crafton picks on a favorite punching bag of the wingnut right: “liberal” Oregon. And once again, his allegations, culled from Fox News, are just ... well, wrong.

The homepage of Crafton’s English Only website prominently displays this Fox News clip about an Oregon state rule requiring firefighters for the Dept. of Foresty be bi-lingual. Crew bosses are even being “laid off or demoted” because of the rule, warned the Fox News anchor.

Oregon’s ABC affiliate, KATU, interviewed this Oregon firefighter on the rule:
Jaime Pickering, a squad boss overseeing 20 firefighters, says the rule means "job losses for Americans. The white people."

Ah yes, you just can't hide the bigotry of the English Only crowd. Hate to break it to you, Mr. Pickering, but Americans come in all sorts of colors.

According to Fox News and KATU, the rule, which applies to contractors not state employees, was enacted because there were so few firefighters in the state, contractors were hiring people from out of state who do not speak English. The state thought it was a good idea to require crew bosses to speak both English and the language of their firefighters, hence the rule.

I guess Eric Crafton hopes this will push some "war on English" fear buttons. But, as with so much that one hears on Fox News or coming out of Crafton’s mouth, it’s all wrong.

From the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website, under “Contracting for Wildland Firefighters”:

English is the language of wildland firefighting.  It is the national standard.  It is spoken in briefings and on two-way radios, and is the language of operating plans, reports and other documents.

Hispanic and Native American contract crews have operated in the west with bilingual leadership since the 1960s.
The number of Hispanic crews in the Northwest has increased markedly in recent years. A count of Spanish surnames on crew rosters suggests that about 85 percent of current contract firefighters are of Hispanic descent. This rough estimate doesn’t indicate how many crew members speak English.
There is no contract requirement that supervisors on contract crews speak any language other than English. There is a requirement that supervisors be able to communicate with the workers for whom they are responsible. This is essential to ensure that all personnel are made aware of safety hazards that can develop quickly in firefighting.
Consequently, if private companies elect to hire crew members who do not speak English, those supervisors must be bilingual or multilingual.


Public agencies have not found it necessary to require all frontline crew members to speak English. Bilingual supervision has proved successful in ensuring adequate crew safety and performance.
Due to the nature of the work, English proficiency is required for direct employment by ODF.
No ODF employees have been fired or demoted because of any language requirement; there is no requirement other than English proficiency for agency employees.

Once again, Fox News and Eric Crafton are wrong wrong wrong.

Hoping to scare Nashvillians into passing their pet referendum, Crafton & crew have resorted to fear mongering and outright lies. Way to keep it classy, guys.