Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cheesesteak maker's 'English Only' policy

A small sign that initiated an English-only ordering policy at a famous cheesesteak shop was likened to signs of the Jim Crow era during a public hearing over whether the policy was discriminatory. The shop's owner said the posting was never meant to be offensive.

Cheesesteak Shop Owner Defends Policy

Joe Vento, the owner of Geno's Steaks, defended his policy before the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, which filed the discrimination complaint.

"This country is a melting pot, but what makes it work is the English language," Vento told the commission during a hearing that lasted more than six hours Friday. "I'm not stupid. I would never put a sign out to hurt my business.

In October 2005, Vento posted two small signs at his shop in a diverse South Philadelphia neighborhood, telling customers, "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING 'PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH."' He testified that he posted the sign because of concerns over the debate on immigration reform and the increasing number of people from the area could not order in English.

Camille Charles, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said Vento's signs harken back to the Jim Crow era when "Whites Only" postings were prevalent. She cited huge growth in the foreign born, Asian and Latino population in the area surrounding Geno's from 1980 to 2007.

"The signs give a feeling of being unwelcome and being excluded," Charles said.

Hey Camille, go to Flushing. Look at the signs that are only in Korean or Chinese. They make English-speaking people feel unwelcome and excluded. But they are legal and if you complain about them, you're called a racist, even though it's a public safety hazard if first responders can't understand the name of the store. Give it a rest. If you don't like it, don't eat there. People aren't being excluded based on race. They just have to order in English. How is the man supposed to operate his business if the customers fail to communicate what they need to him? Is he supposed to hire people who speak multiple languages in case someone can't communicate what they want in English? Sounds like political correctness in overdrive.

Show your support for Geno's here.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

"This country is a melting pot, but what makes it work is the English language"

Since the start of the US an immigrant assimilated into society by learning the single common language used; English. Are today's immigrants too stupid and lazy to know this? Or have the local governments made it too easy for them by providing all sorts of tax-payer funded translated materials, education taught in their languages and translators immediately available for 14 languages? No - we the tax-payers are stupid idiots for allowing Pols to provide these services so that eventually when the me-no-speak-Eglisse folks obtain citizenship in Spanglish and Chinnish they are beholden to vote for the folks who are champions of being pro-non-English language to keep themselves in office.

This is not a politically correct issue rather this is an anti-USA culture issue.

No-English = no residency /citizenship!

Anonymous said...

Speak English. I agree.

We should stop our tax dollars going towards translation. Could you imagine how much money we would save?

Anonymous said...

Agreed.....speak english.

Anonymous said...

What'sa matta with Jim Vento? Shouldn't he be proud of his Italian roots? Why is he so insistent on speaking only English? That's what the liberals must be thinking.

When certain people try to become more American, the liberals insist on enforcing diversity. Instead, they are enforcing division. White shoppers are discouraged from shopping in Flushing or Corona due to the lack of English spoken in the stores.

Speaking many languages is certainly a plus. I speak three, but English must be put in first place as a way of unifying our diverse communities.

Anonymous said...

Well if the guy is real businessman, he wouldn't be making a big stink about 'English only'. Money is money, and exclusion is a pretty bad long- term strategy. Maybe he wants to be a politician?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the number of people who patronize the establishment just to send a message to the non-English crowd probably accounts for more than the business lost to boycotters.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing offensive about the sign. The comparison to the Jim Crowe laws is ridiculous! I am sick and tired of all this political correctness and reverse discrimination that's going on.

When you visit a foreign country, you have to learn a bit of its language so you can order in a restaurant or ask for directions. English (of course!) will also work in most of the tourist frequented places. This sign certainly would not be offensive to a foreign visitor (tourist, international student, LEGAL immigrant, etc.)

There was this issue about hiring more 911 operators fluent in foreign languages because some people won't learn and speak English to save their lives!!!

And by the way I feel offended by that ad in Chinese with the moldy oranges... what is this all about?

Anonymous said...

Had to share this with the group: YOU GOT TO LOVE THEM AMISH!!!


An Amish farmer walking through his field, notices a man drinking
from his pond.

The Amish man shouts: "Trink das wasser nicht. Die kuhen haben dahin
gesheissen."

Which means: "Don't drink the water, the cows have shit in it."

The man shouts back: "I'm a Muslim, I don't understand. Please speak
in English."

The Amish man says: "Use two hands,.You'll get more."

Anonymous said...

There is no easy answer in this debate. While it is important for newcomers to learn English to communicate with the other English speakers in our city, it is also important to give these newcomers access to English language classes. And we all know that many newcomers in our city work extremely long hours with no legal protections. You try learning another language when you are working in a kitchen for 12 hours a day, delivering food for a few bucks a hour or trying to just get through a day in this big confusing city. I work full time and still have trouble finding the time to learn new skills.

If you want them to speak English, give them the opportunity to learn. And don't tell me, "oh my parents or grandparents learned English when they got to this country because...." It was a different time. We need different solutions. Embrace others who are different from you, don't toss them away!

CntrySigns said...

If you are going to deal with English speakers you need to speak English. I don't mean to say to people to forget your roots but if you choose to come here, choose to learn the language.

Anonymous said...

God Bless Jim Vento, I wish more Americans had the balls to stand up for what they belive in.
as for those who don't speak english, your relative is on the floor dying, you dial nueve uno uno, then what do you say dumb ass?? cinco de mayo?? egg fu yung n wonton soup???

John said...

What does a cheesesteak shop in Philly have to do with Queens Crap??

Anonymous said...

Read the last paragraph.

Anonymous said...

The first presidential candidate who promotes English as the official language of the United States gets my vote. We are the "United" States. Our English language unites us. Stop all translation services. Instead, use the money to hold English classes. That way, if we have to spend tax dollars it will be for English language education, not coddling these foreginers who refuse to learn our language.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty shocked so I wrote a letter to Dr. Charles:
I read an associated press article about a steak shop owner who posted an English only sign in his store. I was very surprised to read you felt the English only sign in Mr. Ventos store was exclusionary.

I read your CV and all the articles you have published were published in journals that have an English-only policy.
Is it not inconsistent to support scientific journals that have an English-only policy?
How can any defense of submitting papers to an English only journal not be essentially the same as Mr Ventos argument? (e.g. English is the language of business; most or all foreign scholars have some English training, etc.).

Perhaps you should reconsider you claim that an English-only policy is exclusionary or reconsider participating in English-only publications.

Anonymous said...

I am a 2nd generation U.S. born hispanic and yes I agree that foreigners should learn english. I've been to Geno's in Philly and it's not the sign that deeply offended me it was the attitude of all those behind the counter. As much as they want to proclaim that they are not racists, the way in which they treat a white customer as opposed to a hispanic-looking individual is worlds apart. I felt thoroughly discriminated. The man who took our order was extremely impatient with us (this after chit chatting w/ a "white family" for about 10 minutes while constantly glancing at us in line and not giving a crap) yet when we get to the counter he's scolding us for not knowing immediately what we wanted. His attitude was very harsh and in the end gave us our food w/o a bag, when we asked for one he simply threw it in our direction w/o even looking at us. I was soooo disgusted I simply walked over to the nearest garbage can and threw away the food. I no longer had an appetite. This was a vacation to Philly and that experience at Geno's left such a sour taste in my mouth I will never return and sure as hell will never suggest Philadelphia to anyone!! So the people at Geno's can say all they want - but a lot of us out there know the truth, THEY ARE A BUNCH OF RACISTS!!

Anonymous said...

Geno's we can use a decent establishment like your own, here in Queens. Joe Vento is not discriminatory - he just needs to move customers on their long lines to get his steak sandwiches. His shop is in Philly not Maylasia, when in Rome do as the Romans do (or speak). To those who wrote the in our parents time was a different your right - my folks natives of 2 different languages mastered English through paying for classes and pride to adapt to their chosen land. They would not have survived here if not. No one translated anything for them for free, no gov paid anything to help them and certainly no voice mail in those days - press 1 for "Maliwaiese" either. It's "amazin" non English speaking residents survive here - but in truth there is a differece from those days to now - Now-a-days you don't need to survive or speak English - we provide subsidized public housing, food stamps and small change for cervesa and we pay high taxes just so that we translate it all for you so that your not missing out on your entitlement, God forbid.

Anonymous said...

As I posted before.

I've now bought a tee shirt on Canal St.
I intend to wear it when the weather warms up.

It reads,

"Welcome to America. Now speak English" !

Anonymous said...

John Liu's answer to the problem
is that WE should learn to speak
Mandarin/Chinese.

He even offered "free" (???)....
or did it really come out of taxpayers' money....
classes in the Bland Houses!

Yo....let the Chinese residents,
who are flooding Bland ,
learn Ebonic/American English instead!

That be tellin' the truth !

Anonymous said...

In Japan,
English is taught as the second language....
beginning in grade school.

English is also considered
THE WORLD'S OFFICIAL business language!

So, what the hell's the problem with learning it ?

I'm not going to support coddling
anyone by offering a battery
of language translations at taxpayers' expense
for any damn group that's too lazy...
to attend the multitude of English classes
that are already being offered out there.

Many of these are FREE !

You either learn English
or get left on the bottom wrung
of the socioeconomic ladder ....
it's that simple !

In Ireland,
I believe, you can't own land
unless you become a citizen
and can speak Gaelic !

There's a Good example to follow !

Anonymous said...

Flushing, on the other hand,
has become mainly a melting wok !

There's nothing multi cultural about it
despite all the hype to the contrary.

It's strictly mono cultural.
(Mainly, the Taiwanese & Fukienese
hold the financial/political clout here).

And it's sad (but usually true)
that one Asian group often has little tolerance
for anyone else but their own kind.

Most are notorious bigots
when it comes to African Americans.
("Whites" are usually offhandedly dismissed
as "the ghost people") .

Anonymous said...

It's the middle class that's footing the bill
for the multitude of translations from English....
not the wealthy who need these foreigners
to be their toilet slaves!

Well....
let THE RICH ante up and pay
for their servants' education, food and lodging.

I'm tired of being tweeded !

Anonymous said...

Guess what. French, not English is considered the universal diplomatic language of the UN. All diplomats must speak French as a part of the job. On the other hand, all pilots, international included MUST speak English as a part of their licensing requirement as well as air traffic controllers. If you want people to speak English, then provide free or low cost programs for them to learn. Either Put Up or Shut Up.

Anonymous said...

We already provide free or low cost programs for them to learn and they don't. You listed several instances where knowing a universal language is required. Why is living in a country with a predominate language any different?

faster340 said...

I can't believe we have to fight for the right to speak english. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

I really hope all other countries in the world start to force American tourists to speak that country's language when they visit. Lets see how most stupid, no knowing second language Americans fare.

faster340 said...

Hey buttwipe. Tourists are acceptable to me, they really aren't expected to speak it. It's the people that are here for many many years is what we are talking about!

If I were planning to move to another country to work and live I would go out of my way to learn that country's language. I would not request the country to give me free language lessons and post everything regarding signs and instructions in multiple languages and everything else that comes free to most of the non-english speaking people in this country. I seriously doubt other foreign countries give as much as we do to our immigrants.

That's why they all want to come here! I don't see people bum-rushing immigration in Iraq, Turkey or whatever other country!

"ENGLISH MOTHER FUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?" - A quote from the famous movie "Pulp Fiction"...

Russell

Taxpayer said...

More than 30 years ago I worked with a young woman from mainland China who spoke English so eloquently that I asked her if she had been born and raised here.

No, she had arrived in the US just a year before. Prior to her departure, she studied English in night school for about 6 months. Then, she practiced her new ability any chance she got: TV, movies, newspapers etc..

On top everything else, her job required her to be reading and writing and speaking very technical material with other technicians. She never showed any difficulty.

She made the sacrifice. She succeeded. Others can, too!

I have no sympathy for those who arrive here unprepared.

Anonymous said...

We're talking about immigrants
who have lived and worked in our country
for years.....dumbo....not necessarily
new arrivals !

They have made enough money
off our system to be able to afford
to pay for their own English lessons
if they cannot speak our language
by now.

Here's a starter.....
you may begin your lesson
by translating f--k you
into your native tongue!

Anonymous said...

I DID NOT SAY
that English was considered
the universal diplomatic language.

READ MY ENGLISH LANGUAGE
COMMENT AGAIN !

This time...put on your spectacles !

If you happen to possess
a reading comprehension deficiency....
then I do apologize.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip. If they hate Hispanics they probably despise Jews too.

So when I go to Philly next month I'll avoid the place, bringing along a box lunch with me, in case other slop shops about the place have similar views.

Anonymous said...

Jews don't eat cheesesteaks. They aren't kosher...

Anonymous said...

Cheesesteaks aren't kosher?! Oh boy, I'm going to hell now for sure!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous poster....
your comment about French being
the universal diplomatic language
that is spoken at the UN
reveals a possible error on your part.

Historically speaking....
going back to the days
of Louis XVI ("The Sun King"
or, if you prefer, "Le Roi Soliel")....
the universality of French being
the language of diplomacy
may have once been true.

But I don't think that all diplomats
are required to speak French any longer.

I believe there are actually FIVE
diplomatic languages
that are currently spoken
in the Security Council at the UN.

I ask you for a current citation.

Anonymous said...

I work in a fortune 500 Co where there is a large Mailroom with 100 or so folks of all stripes. Some of these folks the best and reliable ones have been there since I can remember 12-15 years, don't speak a lick of English unless you are talking about benefits or food. This click can break the language barriers because they don't want to. The company has all sorts of free education benefits and seminars to do just that - but these folks simply don't wish too. So as a result, their pay goes up from minimum wage in increments of 2-3 % and work all the OT they can get. Mind you the work is never demanding and the click values their social arrangement more. Others have come through here and really made the best of it and gone far up the ladder here or elsewhere. Many were non-speakers who today are quite good English speakers and easily promoted through the ranks. What gives with certain ethnic groups - they come here, work menial jobs and after 12-15 years can only say hello or thank you?

Anonymous said...

Bring Geno's to Queens - we need good food choices and clean establishments rather than the dirty emporiums of deep fried cat parts offered at every turn that speak no-English.

Anonymous said...

When I order Wo(?) Shu Op
(pardon any errors please)
in a Chinese restaurant....
I expect to be served roast duck
prepared in a particular fashion.

That was because MY ORDER
was placed in the language
the waiter understood.

When I order Uni (sea urchin),
Tamago (egg banded in seaweed),
Torro (fatty Tuna) or anything else
in a Japanese restaurant....
I'm understood because I spoke
the language !

By the way....".bakka"
(I hope I spelled it phonetically correct)....
is the Japanese colloquialism
for "stupid".

That applies to ANYONE
who hasn't grasped the concept
that to be successful at business
in your newly adopted country....
YOU MUST SPEAK ITS LANGUAGE !

Anonymous said...

Many immigrants who never learn a stitch of English have children who learn the language in a flash, excelling in school, too, and graduating at the top of their classes. Just an observation.

faster340 said...

Yeah and then they have to translate everything for their parents. Talk about lazy...

Anonymous said...

This is "America!"

"Am I" the "only" person "who really" thinks American people should "learn their own" language's "grammar" too"?"

Or maybe he was being ironic?

Anonymous said...

I don't follow you. Is the phrase "This is America" grammatically incorrect?

Jose Jimenez said...

"Bring Geno's to Queens - we need good food choices and clean establishments rather than the dirty emporiums of deep fried cat parts offered at every turn that speak no-English."

I'm sure Geno's cheese steaks are the breakfast of champions. It's obvious you have never been to Geno's, which is a large health code violation serving future heart attacks in a bun. Go knock yourself out with the cheese steaks because when you're in cardiac arrest, we'll be all happy that there is one less idiot wasting air in Queens.

Everyone who thinks immigrants don't want to learn English shoud just go to an ESL class. They are all overflowing. Funding ESL classes is a good investment in the future. If you don't see that you are so short sighted.

Also, please stop spouting the the myth that your ancestors stepped off the boat and instantly learned English. New York State's English only sign law was enacted 100 years ago because your parents and grandparents couldn't speak a lick of English.

Anonymous said...

No..... my Grandpa Pietro wasn't fluent in English
when he stepped off the boat 100 years ago in NYC.

He DID learn a smattering of it in Italy
BEFORE he departed on his voyage to America.

Within a year after his arrival
he was fairly fluent in ENGLISH and INSISTED
that his 2 daughters spoke it at home.

He would often say,
"This is America....my new home....
and I want you to learn its language".

He certainly wasn't a lazy man
who made excuses or shirked any responsibilities
of US citizenship!

He loved America and shared his heritage
with his neighbors while embracing their's !

Anonymous said...

Everyone who thinks immigrants don't want to learn English shoud just go to an ESL class. They are all overflowing. Funding ESL classes is a good investment in the future.

Free is the operative work in the good old USA overflowing with folks from abroad especially overflowing with illegal aliens when free. That's also the case for public housing, food stamps - WIC - welfare, schooling, school lunches. A career can be made of all this without working.

Let the law stand - English only.

Anonymous said...

As professor Henry Higgins
(from "My Fair Lady") said......
"One common language I'm afraid we'll never get" !

I don't care if anyone chooses to be bi-lingual,
multi-lingual or even cuni-lingual.

ALSO learn English !

Anonymous said...

Make English the official language.

This would be the first step in immigrant assimilation.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone twist things to favor everyone but the people who have put their sweat into this community. Has anyone been to downtown Flushing? Talk about exclusion! There are no signs in English so you can't even tell what the stores are. If you go into any every descrption is in another language so someone like me can't read it. For instance, I was at Gold City with a friend who reads Chinese. I picked up a bag of noodles to buy. She picked another, gave it to me and said here buy one get one free. I would have never known, nor would they have told me at the register. Talk about exclusion!

Anonymous said...

That guy with his bumper sticker looks like he would have the thickest accent. He is loosing customers and if that is ok for him, fine by me. Freedom of speech and expression! I bet all those who wrote racist comments have forgotten their roots and where they came from.