"There could hardly be two less controversial issues within the German community than the Sunday drinking law and increased immigration"
"By 'foreigners,' Brownlow meant Greeks and Arabs and the like. He never said anything against the Germans. They are his best friends."
Drivers license written exam bill up tonight in SenateFights about laws governing alcohol have a long history. Today, the fight is about wine sales in supermarkets. Back in the day, laws restricted drinking on Sunday, and Tennessee's German immigrant community aimed to set aside its differences to lobby for more liberal drinking laws:
German Radicals and German Conservatives had been so hostile towards one another that they had been unwilling to even temporarily lay aside their personal differences to work toward a common goal. ... Although the Staatszeitung actively supported the Republican party, [Publisher John] Ruhm still felt it was necessary for the Germans to band together to lobby for legislation that directly affected them as an ethnic minority. Ruhm believed that the proper vehicle had finally arrived with the establishment of the new German Association. As far as he was concerned, there could hardly be two less controversial issues within the German community than the Sunday drinking law and increased immigration.Speaking of German, the Tennessee Senate is scheduled to hear a measure today that would limit the number of languages in which the state's written drivers license exam is given (h/t: Post Politics). Interestingly, at the same time as the bill would prohibit the Department of Safety from adding new languages beyond the currently used Japanese, Korean and Spanish, an amendment passed that explicitly expanded the list to include German.
This favoritism toward German is easily explained - Germany's Volkswagen just announced a major investment in a new manufacturing facility in Chattanooga. It also recalls a different differentiation among immigrants that the Tennessee Staatszeitung seemed to deem acceptable in the 19th century, referring to then-governor Brownlow:
I heard a Conservative German yesterday sharply criticize Brownlow's Knownothing past. A bystander asked, what have the Germans always got against Brownlow? Did he ever insult the Germans like Etheridge who once spoke of "a pack of dirty dutchmen," and on another occasion spoke of "d-----d dutch intruders"? No, Brownlow has never criticized the Germans. True, he has reviled foreigners, he has expressed the opinion that it would be better if they were to drown on the other side of the Atlantic, and so on. But by foreigners, Brownlow meant Greeks and Arabs and the like. He never said anything against the Germans. They are his best friends.The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has talking points on the Senate's drivers license bill and other proposals affecting immigrants here.
This story is the fourth in a series about the history of the Tennessee Staatszeitung newspaper and German history here (click the following links for the first, second, and third installments in the series).
Photo by justin. Licensed under Creative Commons.