Getting graphic

This sounds ominous:

The federal government is investigating whether the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety violated the civil rights of Iranian immigrants by refusing to provide them with driver’s license tests in their native Farsi language.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched the investigation in March after a complaint filed on behalf of two Iranian nationals living in Bartlesville accused the state agency of unlawful discrimination based on their national origin, according to a letter from the NHTSA to Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Ward.

One’s immediate response might be “So they can’t read? Where are they going to go?”

But there’s a bit more to it than that:

The complaint was filed on behalf of Fardha Sharifi and her husband, Alireza Sanghinmanesh, who immigrated to the United States with their young son, said Hassan Sharifi, Fardha Sharifi’s cousin and a restaurant owner in Bartlesville. He said the couple wanted to get Oklahoma driver’s licenses last year but did not understand English well enough to take the Oklahoma test.

“They wanted to go to work. And I had to drive them around almost everywhere they went,” said Hassan Sharifi, who immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago. “It seemed like my life was interrupted.”

He said he contacted state driver’s license officials to see if the test could be provided in the couple’s native language, Farsi. “They didn’t answer me,” Hassan Sharifi said. “I feel bad. No one wants to take the responsibility.”

Finally, the couple went to the neighboring state of Kansas, located less than 25 miles north of Bartlesville, where they each passed a Kansas exam that tested their driving skills using graphic symbols rather than language, Hassan Sharifi said.

Two points:

  • Somebody in the DPS should have taken Mr Sharifi’s call, if only to tell him that they couldn’t help under existing law.
  • How hard would it be to adapt that Kansas test to Oklahoma?

The standard argument against this sort of thing is that it costs money, and of course it does. Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore) has his own idea: a bill that requires all state business be conducted in English. This, at least, is consistent with Terrill’s standard Go Away stance. Let’s see what he says after the investigation is completed.





4 comments

  1. paulsmos »

    3 April 2008 · 9:40 am

    So you’re from somewhere else and bitch and moan about our lack accommodation to your foreign ass?
    Well, that’s just tough noogies…
    When I trapse off to Djibouti, do you think they specialize for my needs?

    Either learn the native ways or hit the skids, skippy…and don’t give me any of that “nativist” crap that moonbats decry.

  2. paulsmos »

    3 April 2008 · 9:41 am

    oops, traipse

  3. unimpressed »

    3 April 2008 · 2:29 pm

    I agree completely, paulsmos. If you want to live here, learn the freakin’ language!

  4. CGHill »

    3 April 2008 · 7:46 pm

    Hey, at least he spelled “Djibouti” right. (Then again, if I remember correctly, he’s been there.)

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