We got this one from Jezebel’s Groupthink page. Not surprisingly, stories like these have become way too common. From music stars to Whole Foods to a student suing a community college, the “speak English, dammit” crowd is a permanent part of the Internet, even if it means life and death.
Here’s the scoop: on July 14 NewsOk, the online page of The Oklahoman newspaper, posted this on its Facebook wall:
This was the actual conversation topic: “Would more lives be saved in Oklahoma if storm warnings were issued in English and Spanish? Officials say many Spanish speakers were confused or ill-informed about what to do during the May storms, and some lost their lives. What do you think should be done?” Are you kidding us?
Not surprisingly, the haters came out:
Honestly? They should learn to speak and/or read English. I’m not being rude or racist, but this IS America, and the language used here IS English.
I am so tired of hearing how we in United States of America need to cater to the Spanish speaking people, if we went to their country we would not be treated special just because we cannot speak Spanish. Look at the extra money that it costs to package items. We have to put Spanish on a huge majority of groceries and other retail items, and of all those items how many time have you seen Chinese or Italian or etc… Are the Spanish speaking special or just to lazy and ignorant to learn?
How hard is it to understand a siren going off??? If I were to move to France, I wouldn’t expect everyone to know English to cater to me. I would have to learn French to live there right? Why is it so different here??? Want to live in America? Learn English. It might save your life.
I don’t mean to sound rude or anything, but in America we speak English. If you want to make sure that you are doing all you should for those foreign of our Country, go to their home Country and see what they do for Foreigners…. NOTHING! You HAVE to learn THEIR Language… So the same should apply here. They must learn our language. For their own benefit and safety – that is just respectful of the Country you are in – learn the language of the Country if you intend to live there for any length of time…
They should learn ENGLISH. I myself am a citizen who came here through immigration, legally, from Europe. I learned ENGLISH. I passed my citizenship test in ENGLISH. If they wanted to come here for a better life, then they should do the same. Otherwise, it’s nobody’s fault they are Darwin’s Awards contestants. There are plenty of free programs that tax payers dollars pay for all immigrants to learn English. We have here in Oklahoma all kinds of nationalities of origin, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, from all over Europe, from South America – I didn’t hear anyone else complaining about public announcements, phone recordings, etc etc etc being in English. Why do they need special status?
If you don’t speak. English. Then go back. To. Your. Own. Country. Then you. Might. Be safe. . Dial. 1. For that.
You get the picture. Tough crap, Spanish speaker. You want to stay alive? Learn English.
Luckily, other commentators gave us hope:
Again someone’s legal status should have nothing to do with whether or not they live through a storm. How can you be so cold blooded?
I cannot fathom how uncaring people are. We are talking about lives that were lost. We as Americans should care for all of our citizens.
I was born and raised in the US, in an English speaking home. I didn’t learn another language until I was a teenager. But I didn’t grow up in OK. The first time I heard the sirens go off, it was a test, not a storm. It took time for me to remember the pattern, and while tornados scare me less, hail still terrifies me.
Now, take that experience and consider it happening to a tourist, or someone here legally, visiting family, or legally, but just arrived, or here for years, but for whom English is a second or third language. Forget for a minute the people who came illegally, or people who don’t speak English at all: can you be so callous that it never occurs to you that just because something is familiar to you, it doesn’t have to be familiar to everyone? Shouldn’t we be welcoming of others and, as a society, doing all we can to make the world a better place? I don’t want the govt to make us translate things, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. And I certainly think we need to remember that all life is sacred, all of it, no matter how they came to be here.
The majority of people in this comment thread sadly remind me of why Oklahoma has the embarrassing reputation that it does.