Sunday, September 6, 2015
press 1 for English
Another rant. I know, right?
Friday I was out in the car and was listening to a show on Pacifica (the local public radio station). The topic was Jeb Bush addressing a latino community in gasp Spanish. The caller didn't think that was appropriate...this is America, these people need to learn English, these people aren't even trying to learn English or assimilate into this country they just want to take without giving back...on and on he went. The show host eventually, through judicious questioning, got him to admit that by 'these people', he meant Spanish speakers. The show host rightly pointed out to him that this country was built by foreign language speakers, that there is no official language in the country (which the caller tried to dispute by saying the Constitution was written in English), that many presidential candidates in the past have addressed constituents in Italian, Polish, German, etc...how else do you inform voters of your position who don't yet have a good grasp of English? The caller sort of brushed that aside as his focus was on Spanish and his opinion, one completely devoid of facts to back it up, and he gave an example of how disrespectful it is about going into a store and the clerk/cashier he dealt with didn't speak English. This highly offended him and he went and spoke to the manager about why he hired people who couldn't speak English (uh, to help with customers who don't speak English or speak it well?) and he was convinced that this woman was an illegal even though he had no proof whatsoever and when pressed on why he thought she was, all he could say over and over was...I guarantee she was illegal.
Obviously, English or no English, they managed to communicate well enough for him to buy whatever it was he was buying so the non-English speaking clerk didn't really affect him in an adverse way. It makes me wonder though, what his objection is really about, why he and people like him are so intolerant of other people conversing in a language they do not understand, as if they have some sort of inalienable right to understand every word spoken within their hearing.
I was recently pilloried on FB resulting in the unfriending of one person and the blocking of his granddaughter and one of her friends because I took issue with an 'English only' meme he shared which I found to be petty, pointing out that, like it or not, this is a multicultural and multilingual country, that this country was built by people who did not speak English.
Wave after wave of non-English speaking people have immigrated to this country. It's why we have Chinatowns, Italian quarters, German enclaves, Jewish and Muslim neighborhoods, Barrios, etc. First generation immigrants do not usually assimilate. They may cling to their language, their culture because being in a new place is daunting and scary. They get comfort in familiarity but they are here for the same reason all of us are here...they want better futures for themselves and their children. They come here and they work hard. If they have trouble learning English as an adult (and English is a hard language to learn), so what? It is their children who assimilate. While they may have a different cultural heritage, these children and their children grow up fully assimilated. Assimilation takes time and to proclaim that first generation immigrants don't want to assimilate is absurd.
This is a big country filled with great diversity and instead of accepting that diversity as the strength it should be, too many people spend far too much time being divisive with hate for and fear of their fellow citizens who are different...in color, in heritage, in culture, in religion, in sexuality, in language, the list goes on. What they aren't seeing is that we are ALL equally Americans and I don't understand why anyone would object to companies and local/national government making information available in however many languages it takes to insure that all citizens get the help and info they need.
I mean, really, how hard is it to press 1 for English?
Next post I promise will be pretty pictures.