nakchi: (seki {go})
[personal profile] nakchi
One of my friends (the lovely [livejournal.com profile] omnipresentdmat) posted this on Facebook a little while ago, and I felt compelled to repost it in its entirety. It's about something I've been noticing recently, too, and which I find deeply disturbing. Everything that follows is her words, not mine.

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About a month ago I went to the profile of one of my high school English teachers and saw that she had liked a page called 'I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PRESS 1 TO HEAR A MESSAGE IN ENGLISH... WE ARE IN AMERICA, LEARN THE LANGUAGE'. I'd never thought of that teacher as a person with prejudiced views and I was pretty understandably surprised and disappointed (if you read this, by the way, I completely stand by all that I say here). Since then, I've started counting the people on my feed who join groups with names that in some way incorporate variations on the phrase 'I shouldn't have to press 1 for English'.

There have been five of you--and that's only in the past month.

I don't understand why so many Americans feel the need to embrace willful ignorance of the rest of the world. Does it really hurt you to push 1 for English? These options are not in place because the customer is not learning English--most people come here with the intention of learning English, and many have already begun learning the language. The operative word there, if you're looking for it, is learning. These people are in the process of learning the language. English is a difficult language and it takes time to learn as it does with any second language. Even once you feel fairly proficient, would you want to perform delicate operations like managing your finances in a foreign language? This isn't a sign of the degradation of our country, it's a sign that we're taking notice of those with needs that differ from our own. America isn't the only country to offer multilingual support; in fact, ours is actually much more sparse than most places as we typically offer only English and Spanish. Canada, for instance, has French on a great number of their signs. When I studied in Japan, I noticed that most public utilities such as ATMs and ticket machines offered English, Korean, and Chinese in addition to Japanese. I think I would have been lost without the English option, honestly. I'm beginning to feel comfortable with my speaking ability in every day conversations and I could perform most day-to-day tasks in Japanese, but banking in particular would have been an unimaginable nightmare. I can't imagine how I would have felt if someone had told me that, rather than having those options, I should learn Japanese. I was learning Japanese but it still wasn't good enough. I would have felt so stupid and so discouraged. Language-learning would have lost its appeal if people were constantly judging my progress in a way that really comes off as mean-spirited and petty.

This whole trend is also rife with discrimination against our hispanic citizens. The discrimination against those of Latino origins in the USA is really ridiculous; it's the reason we have horrible, nationalistic, racist laws proposed such as Arizona's SB1070. This sort of xenophobia in America, a nation of immigrants, is so distasteful and hypocritical that I've lost my patience entirely with these groups. You may think they are funny, but they are hate groups. They are hateful toward anyone who does not speak English fluently in general and toward hispanic citizens in specific.

The reason I'm writing this out is that several of the people I've seen join these groups are people I consider likable and intelligent. I don't think you're meaning to be hateful or xenophobic. You probably think these groups are funny. They're not funny; they're bigoted and I've resisted saying something for long enough. Get over yourselves. The inconvenience that you experience over having to push one button is much smaller than the inconvenience others would experience without the option.
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December 2010

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