I haven't blogged on the cheesesteak controversy in Philly. As all of my eight fully informed readers know, Joey Vento, owner of the famous Geno's Steaks, has put up a sign asking customers to order in English.
What is fascinating about this is the virulence of the reaction. Vento has been accused or "racism" and "xenophobia." His sign has been called "mean-spirited" and "divisive." The city's tourism agency promptly enfolded itself into the politically correct position, assuring everyone that Vento was not "representative" of Philadelphia. The city has filed a complaint, alleging discrimination on the basis of national origin and the creation of a "hostile environment" presumably also on the basis of national origin.
Supporters of amnesty for illegal immigrants and a permissive attitude toward border crossings generally intone their support for immigrants' learning English and well they should. You aren't going to get too far without it. But, as this controversy shows, they will not tolerate the slightest step to encourage that objective.
Vento refuses service to no one and his employees will help someone who cannot speak English to order. It's probably not hard, Geno's menu is delicious, but not extensive. I have been to a number of restaurants with far more complex menus in countries where I could not speak the language and I don't recall ever going without dinner. My guess is that your average spanish speaker could master that menu in about three minutes. The only way that Vento can be said to have discriminated or created a hostile environment is if you accept the notion that you have a God given right to force people to communicate with you in the way that you want them to.
Insulating people from any requirement that they speak English will probably ensure that they never learn it. Any adult who has tried to learn a second language or even to brush up on one that she may have spoken in the past knows that immersion is the only way that it's going to happen.
That's common sense, but, in this case, the overweening desire to appear to be "inclusive" gets in the way. As is so often the case, it is a cruel compassion. Are we really being good to people when we allow them to remain in a lingual ghetto?