Overheard on CNN.com: Please speak English
August 24th, 2011
05:39 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Please speak English

Comment of the day:

"The best thing about people who immigrated here (many years ago) was the eagerness to work hard and learn English. They deserve so much respect." –123whateveru

Respect for cheesesteak guru

Joey Vento, owner of Geno’s, a south Philadelphia cheesesteak shop, died of a heart attack on Tuesday. Besides being the owner of one of the city’s most well-known steak sandwich shops, Vento caught national attention in 2006 for a sign he placed in his restaurant urging customers to speak English.

And it seems Americans are still debating the English-only concept, but in Vento’s case, CNN.com commenters were more united.

567123 said, “So all Americans calling this man racist would go into a small town restaurant in Spain or Germany and expect the owners to understand your order in English? Or would you maybe make an effort and learn a few basics of a foreign language?”

Beezer1 said, “I live in Philly. This guy was a good man. He donated tons of cash to kids groups, most of them minorities . He loved America and Philly and hated to see what is becoming of it. His family were immigrants and assimilated to the country and had success and they came from pure poverty. He wanted to instill to all kids that the only way to get ahead is to do hard work, weather it be a job, art or school. Think about it. Which immigrant will have a better advantage: one who refuses to learn English or one who learns it?”

Daws1 said, “Philadelphia has 1.5 million people in it, and is visited by people the world over. Why didn't he make an effort to learn a foreign language?”

Coyolxauhqui responded, “Maybe he did, Daws. I never knew the guy. Maybe he just wanted people to give it a try and not expect employees at a Philly restaurant to be versed in foreign languages.”

jackhawco said, “Unlike most Americans, Joey had a set of balls and wasn't afraid to speak what he believed.”

disgustedNY said, “You need to learn to speak English to become a citizen of the USA. If you don't like that you can GTFO.”

Wlk47 responded, “Why don't you speak any Native American languages?”

medstudent72 responded, “Wlk47 – If  Native Americans had created a sovereign country complete with a constitution and governing body, then maybe we would be.”

HMA said, “I am Hispanic and I have to say that people that come to this country should learn to speak the language. I came here when I was 15 and I tried very hard to learn the English language quickly. I made sure I made friends with American kids and not just Hispanic kids. Forward 30 years and I speak actually 3 languages fluently: French, English and Spanish. I see many folks that come to this country and they just mingle with their kind and that slows down the learning process. I've known people that are here for years and still cannot speak English which is sad but it is because they do not associate themselves with English speaking folks.”

Beancrock said, “How was this guy racist? Is it really unreasonable to expect people to communicate in the local language?”

sonofgadfly responded, “What made it ‘unreasonable’ was not the expectation itself, but rather the general treatment in this country (and around the world) of people who are different. Perhaps if all people were treated more fairly - as individuals, not as stereotypes - no one would have seen that expectation as anything more than a practical matter.”

PhooBar said, “Rest in peace, Mr. Vento. You were a great American. I make it a point to eat at Gino's, and at Pat's, every time I go to Philly. I never could decide who's was the best.”

Is the U.S. adopting a new foreign policy?

With behind-the-scenes involvement in Libya, the United States may have turned a foreign-policy corner—or at least that’s what CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says. In his column Wednesday, he compared the vastly different military approaches in Iraq and Afghanistan to the current administration’s tactics.

So what did CNN.com readers think about the possibility of a new foreign policy?

James said, “The Obama Doctrine.”

Borrowfromchinapaidbyusa said, “Fareed, who should be the force for peace and liberty in the world if not the US? CNN maybe? And you actually think EU countries are now ‘more likely to be involved in the difficult process of reconstruction.’ With whose money?”

HappyModerate said, “We'll still be a global force for peace and liberty, but I don't think we should have to go it alone. Why shouldn't the other free nations share the burden? We are leaders. It is in our American nature. But being a leader doesn't mean that we have to be a lone wolf. We might be able to achieve a lot more if we work as part of team. And if we can be more effective by sharing the burdens of leadership then it would be stupid not to do it.”

drogo said, “Our foreign policy is changing because we no longer have the influence, money or power to go it alone.”

Andy said, “Obama's strategy is funding wars that others countries will fight. It's more obvious than you might think."

GoodCall said, “The US played a pivotal role in bringing democracy to Libya and help people overthrow a dictator who killed many Americans. Obama did that without losing a single American life. This is what I call a kick ass political and military success.”

Huxley said, “I hope you are right Zakaria. We've handled so many other interventions in an extremely short sighted way, such as Hungary, Cuba, Panama, Iran, and many others (did I mention Iraq and Afghanistan?).

It would be refreshing if the US started planning ahead based on a consideration of the probable outcome of their foreign policy decisions, as opposed to just doing whatever the current President felt like doing on that day."

Brian said, "’The United States is not going to have the kind of defense budget nor the national will to engage in a series of major military operations in countries that are, frankly, not vital to our national interests.’ Translation: We will only invade countries that have oil. Even Zakaria admits this – in his own devious way.”

BBob said, “Great, a new variation on how the US can meddle. How about this: just stay out of other countries' affairs. As a taxpayer, I'd prefer not one cent be spent on war in other countries unless our security is DIRECTLY affected.”

Jttaylort responded, “The money could be spent elsewhere...like Americans getting jobs, infrastructure, Social Security, Medicare, disability for our veterans, etc.”

Chip said, “A new policy would be ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Obama promised to do three years ago and has yet to deliver. So much for Hope and Change!”

Who’s following who?

On Tuesday, Facebook made changes to its privacy settings that are more in line with what Google Plus offers, changes that let users more easily choose who can see posts and photos.

So does the move signal that Facebook is under threat of serious competition?

thommcg said, “Proper, simplified privacy controls, integrated video chat from the start, (still) ad free... looks like Google+ got it right and Facebook is playing catchup now."

msacks responded, “Absolutely true, but Google+ is playing catchup by hundreds of millions of users. The more Facebook adapts to why people want Google+ to stick around, the more people don't shift to Google+ and stay with Facebook. And in the end, years from now, if I have a choice of a social network with 90% of my friends and contacts, or a social network with 25% of my friends and contacts, I'm choosing the one with the most people. In other words, the only way Google+ replaces or coexists with Facebook long term is if it continuously stays ahead of the curve, not just starts there.”

Ackadamius responded, “If you don't think Google is going to put ads on Google+ you obviously don't know how Google makes their money....ads! Advertising revenue makes up 96 percent of Google’s revenues so far in 2011. Google makes products/services to put advertising on them. That's their business model.”

pb1968 said, “If Marc Zuckerburg doesn't think his 750,000,000 subscribers will leave him in a heartbeat in mass exodus for a better user experience on G+, he ought to have a heart to heart talk with "Tom" from MySpace.”

Ackadamius responded, “For one, the comparison isn't even close to accurate. MySpace never even had 15 percent of the users Facebook has and it was never really adopted by the population as a whole. Now Facebook has entire families, friends, organizations, etc involved. If you think it is easy to convince 100 or more people in your social friend-group to leave and go to a new platform, learn it, and have the same experience as Facebook you are delusional.”

telveer said, “I am still moving to G+ – 90 percent done.”

txhermit said, “This is nothing new. I've been using this feature from Facebook for many years and have loved it. If anything, it's Google+ that copied Facebook. The only thing that Facebook is doing is making this feature more prominent for lazy people who never bothered to try it before.”

swannee responded, “Sorry, but as a software developer, if something is difficult to use, it doesn't make the users lazy when they don't use it, it means it's not a well-designed product. Same reason Apple is kicking the snot out of everybody. Make it easy, make it user-friendly. Google+ gets a big vote for me for doing a great job here. FB is great, but G+ has added in a lot of common sense improvements that are great ideas. Tech snobs are soon relegated to the scrap heap when they don't innovate around people.”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. Herman Rosero

    I see this as another way of publicity, I agree 100% that immigrants should learn to speak english, but I don, see this this guy trying to lecture people that don't speak english, because himself is unable to communicate fluently , I see this person just as a pathetic and ignorant person, racist, trying to get attention to boost up his bussines, besides, the food tastes bad, I know better places to go and eat,

    August 28, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      It would be nice if you learned how to type in English. Spellcheck and grammar are great tools to learn when you are trying to insult people.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. NoGr8rH8r

    Rule number 1 is LEARN ENGLISH! If you don't know that, you don't belong in this country. Joeys Spirit will live forever!

    August 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evelyn Maben-Hall

      Was it former President Bush, who said , this is Amer Ca, speak English? Was it Governor Perry, who said, I was wid you, until you starting talking poker? Did I just read the following:AT&T Bilingual Full Time Retail Sales Consultant ? Would it make sense to say, we are living & competing in a global economy, and we are smart Americans, who can communicate in several languages; or does that only apply to the Chinese, and other foreign countries? Wake up America.

      September 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evelyn Maben-Hall

      Did I say competing? Oops! This is America, proof read.

      September 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roger Clegg, Ctr for Equal Opportunity

    Here's my top-ten list of what we should demand from those who want to become Americans (and those who are already Americans, for that matter). The list was first published in an National Review Online column a decade ago [link: http://old.nationalreview.com/comment/comment091200d.shtml ], and it is fleshed out in Congressional testimony [link: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/May2007/Clegg070523.pdf ]:

    1. Don’t disparage anyone else’s race or ethnicity.
    2. Respect women.
    3. Learn to speak English.
    4. Be polite.
    5. Don’t break the law.
    6. Don’t have children out of wedlock.
    7. Don’t demand anything because of your race or ethnicity.
    8. Don’t view working and studying hard as “acting white.”
    9. Don’t hold historical grudges.
    10. Be proud of being an American.

    August 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mark

    Love the fact that he is outspoken on this issue. I remember going to Germany and thinking I could get buy everywhere speaking English. Sorry, the answer is NO. I was in their country and I should take the time to respect them and learn their language. So, I muddled through it and learned something. This said, coming to a country as a tourist is one thing. Coming there to live .... You should get to know the language everyone else is speaking and not be lazy and try to expect everyone to accomodate you.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Andreas Moser

    And English is so easy to learn.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Terry

    I live and was born and raised here in the United States, when in school Spanish was an "elective". If people come here then they should speak our language!! When I go (if) to Germany, Mexico or anywhere else English is NOT spoken, then I will learn that language and I think the same should be for the people coming here as well.I was not hired for a job because I was NOT bi-lingual, I think and thought that was WRONG!! That is "discrimenation by all levels!! I have been in Mexico before and NONE of those people spoke English!!

    September 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Africanlegend

    The US is not the same as Spain, Portugal, France et al. It is an amalgamation of different cultures. It has been this way since it's birth. People can waste time trying to make everyone speak English, which I believe is within reason but won't happen or people can adjust to what is happening. There is no harm in learning some Spanish for example because it will helpful. Spanish is now also prolifically spoken in the US now. Live with it. It won't go away no matter how many signs people put up. This our country garbage that white English speaking Americas keep echoing is foolish. in a store the language that need be spoken is Franklin, Greg and Jackson...dinero.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
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