Michigan Democrat explains his vote to make English the official state language


State Representative Scott Dianda, D-Calumet - HOUSE.GOV
  • house.gov
  • State Representative Scott Dianda, D-Calumet
In an unexpected vote, this week the Republican-led Michigan House passed a bill to make English the official state language. The bill is expected to pass the Republican-led state Senate, though it's unclear whether Gov. Rick Snyder will sign it.

If approved, the English language distinction would change very little. State documents would have to be printed in English, which is already standard procedure. English would have to be spoken at public meetings, in another continuation of the status quo.

So we couldn't have been alone in wondering, "What's the point?" In an effort to learn more, we reached out to the four Democrats who joined the majority of the state's Republican representatives in approving the bill.

Three of those Dems were from right here in metro Detroit. Democratic Reps. LaTanya Garrett of Detroit, John Chirkun of Roseville, and Robert Kosowski of Westland did not respond to calls for comment Friday. But the Upper Penninsula rep who voted to make English the official state language did.

Here he is, in his own words:

Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet):
I think it’s important. We’re living in the United States, we’re living in Michigan, we’ve all been raised talkin' English. I don’t see a big deal here, especially when I have my friends from all over the world here, they’re talkin' English, English is being spoken around the whole world. They’re talkin' English because we're the No. 1 country in the whole world so I don’t understand why everyone is so upset about speaking English.

And I want to tell you another thing. We, as citizens of the country, we gotta figure out internationally what’s happening with the economics of our country. Everything is made in China. Maybe instead of speaking all these other languages maybe we should just learn Chinese because the bulk of the stuff we're picking up in our stores is made in China, so I think people gotta start thinking about this stuff a little more than other things.

Metro Times: I think you'd be impressed by how fast I type, I managed to get all that.

Rep. Dianda: I don't type at all, so you’re doing better than I am.

MT: Oh, wow. OK, so was this just a symbolic gesture? Public records are already provided in English, English is already spoken at meetings — so what was the point?

Dianda: I think they’re printing all kinds of things in different languages, though. There’s a lot of stuff that’s printed throughout the state with multiple languages. I guess they just want to make sure that it's gonna be English first. They want English first. That’s what it comes down to: They want it on the first line.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.