Now and again, you’ll call some business and as the machine tries to direct your call, you’re asked in Spanish if you want to have the call taken in Spanish. That pees me off, but probably not for the reasons you might be thinking. What irritates me about this is, I do not believe this is doing Hispanics any favors, at least not in the long term. I have no problem with Hispanics moving here, so long as they are law-abiding citizens, work for a living, pay their taxes and learn to speak English, let them in. And before you get all high and mighty about “illegals” just remember many, many of your very, very recent ancestors faked documents, bribed officials, or were fugitives in their homeland, and spoke little or no English when they got here.
So, no, I don’t object to the use of Spanish, because I have “immigration issues.” I take issue with the use of Spanish in the public domain because I feel it’s not really helping Hispanics to integrate – and if they don’t integrate, chances are, they’ll alienate. I speak from experience here since I, along with my brother and three sisters, all moved to live in France at one time or another, as adults – adults that spoke little or no French. We were, for the most part, economic refugees, fleeing our homeland that had no work for us. As it happens, ‘twas probably the best thing that ever happened to us, since we are all now bilingual. But, my point is this; when we moved to France, the businesses, the government, the people of France, did not try to “accommodate” us by providing services to us in English. Mind you, if they thought for one moment they could make money out of us by doing so, maybe they would have. And here’s where we have to be totally honest with each other, the corporate suits of Home Depot and Lowes, do not display items in both English and Spanish because they somehow feel sorry for that poor Mexican immigrant and they want to help him out. Are you kidding me? They want to do everything they can to get immigrants to buy their goods, even if that means “dual-language service.” Corporate big-wigs are indifferent to the fact that that the dual-language service doesn’t actually help immigrants settle in; they want to make money. Businesses are willfully oblivious to the fact that in putting out signs in Spanish and English, they help also foster the notion in people’s minds that that Hispanics are just too bloody lazy to learn English. They don’t care; they just want to make money.
I am totally in favor of Hispanics speaking Spanish at home, and amongst themselves. I speak two languages besides English and feel lucky that I do. But Hispanics do not need me to tell them, that if they want to get on, they must learn English. So that is why I think it’s the Hispanic community who should be out there demanding to get Spanish out of the public domain. Far from helping them, it hinders their economic advancement and creates resentment among the locals.
Brian O’ Nuanain runs “Across The Pond And Beyond”, a company that organizes international vacations. You can reach him at acrossthepondandbeyond.com