Monday, June 12, 2006

The Philadelphia Story

By now everyone has heard about Joey Vento the owner of Geno's Steaks of South Philadelphia. Mr. Vento placed a sign in his place of business that says "This is America-when ordering, speak English." As you can imagine in today's PC world in which we live this has caused a bit of an outrage from some groups. Earlier today I saw this story from Reuters:

A civil rights watchdog agency has decided to open an investigation into a Philadelphia cheese steak restaurant that posted a sign saying "This is America - when ordering, speak English."

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations will file a complaint later on Monday, effectively opening an agency case against Geno's Steaks of South Philadelphia, said Rachel Lawton, acting executive director of the agency.

The Philadelphia controversy has fed a national debate over immigration in which the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would declare English the national language and politicians have raised objections to a Spanish version of the national anthem.

The sign may violate the city's Fair Practices Ordinance, which bans businesses from discriminating on the basis of nationality or ethnicity, Lawton said.

"The complaint will say that the sign discourages patronage by non-English speakers because of their national origin and/or ancestry," said Lawton, whose agency enforces the city's anti-discrimination laws.

As usual these groups only see what they want in regards to anyone that does anything that they remotely disagree with. Since this story originally broke there have been several follow-ups. Even though I do not know Mr. Vento it is clear to me that he is in no way attempting to discriminate or belittle anyone. By making this statement he is simply trying to promote assimilation. In fact, he states this very thing in the article. Mr. Vento said, "no one is refused service and no one is discriminated against. The sign, which has been displayed for about six months, is meant to encourage immigrants to learn English."

Now I will grant you that this sign and policy could be a cause of uncomfort to some foreign tourists that may visit his establishment. But then again most tourists traveling to another country at least try and learn enough of the language to order food or ask for directions. They almost always have either a book or something electronic that will help them translate. At any rate this is about immigrants that live and have lived here and have not bothered to learn enough of our language to order a sandwich.

According to the rest of the article if the sign is a violation of city ordinance he could be ordered to take it down. This is something that Mr. Vento says he has no intention to do. The article also states that Mr. Roberto Santiago the director of the city's Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations has received about 50 "hate" emails in response to his opposition of the sign. He also went on to state that "This is dividing the nation, I'm really saddened by these individuals who are upset by having to be tolerant. I'm glad I'm living in an America where comments like Mr. Vento's are out of order."

Mr. Santiago is doing a great job of spinning this into a fight against racism. The only thing that Mr. Vento and the rest of us are intolerant towards is the breaking of our Countries' laws. We are intolerant to the fact that some of those that are here illegally are taking advantage of employment opportunities, freedom and the services provided by our country but have no intention of assimilating. I believe that Mr. Santiago will find that is what most Americans believe is out of order.

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.**

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