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. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I don't understand the lack of intellectual curiosity. I do understand the aggression involved in expecting to speak another language in the USA.
    Whenever I spend time in another country, I try to learn as much of the language as I can while I'm there.
    If I moved to another country to live, I would learn its languages as soon as possible.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickofmouthypeople

      speak english this is america we speak english so have them learn it

      August 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ JIF ... Well said, I to believe that if your in a foreign country or another's house it would be common courtesy to speak their language. When some one invites you to dinner, your are to bring a bottle of wine as a show of thanks. I must say America has gotten noticeable lazy in it's customs.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Thinking Individual

    I would move to a country that embraced all languages and peoples as being equal, if there were one.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Thinking Individual

    English is taught in German schools, just as spanish is taught in US schools. The difference is German students are interested in learning. Most USian students think like their parents, that everyone should just stick to english.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darwin

      I had to take Spanish in HS and over half of my class was Hispanic. I didn't get to take English as my foreign language class. Does that sound right to you?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. RiadaKram

    The key thing here is liberty and the ridiculous notion that an englsh speaking American is supposed to conduct a business transaction with the other party speaking another language!!! God Bless you Joey 🙂

    August 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      Any smart English speaking american would make attempts to accomodate ANY customer, and get as much business as possible. Sending customers away because of your racism is very... very... very dumb. As Rick Perry said, "Adios MOFO." One by one the racists will leave this world. And please stop eating so much Cheesy Steaks you WILL end up cloging your arteries, getting atherosclerosis resulting in a heart attack, you might even die from it.

      August 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    If more people that came to the West to live thought the way this man obviously does, there wouldn't be so many problems with multiculturalism that are so prevalent today.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    BTW, because so many Italian clients of mine did not speak English when they first came here to stay long periods or to live, I quickly learned Italian.
    It's good to have a bit of German and French going, but they usually speak English.
    The best schools here have always taught at least some French before HS graduation.
    We Americans certainly should know more European languages.
    We were discussing, however, immigrants here who refuse to learn English.
    It's OK: I don't think I'd like a cheese-steak sandwich or whatever that is.
    A cheeseburger once or twice a year, maybe.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Saud businessman

    In Saudi Arabia, one cannot legally conduct business with the same hand one used to wipe ones ass after defacating. I see you have no law such as this. And I see at shopping mall restrooms that most men just flush and go as if it were customary. Smell that briefcase handle? (and have you seen the Ladies room? Hoe-lee cow. Could I be literal(er)?

    August 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      I have a suggestion for Saudi Arabia, there is this new invention called Toilet Paper, learn to use it. No wonder no body wants to shake your hand. By the way, how do you know if the person is right or left handed before you shake hands when you meet?

      August 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darwin

      WOW Angelou! Who's racist here? Why don't you go to Saudi Arabia and say that to them..... PLEASE! By the way, they ALL use their left hand to clean themselves, so it doesn't matter if they're right or left handed. And you call other people ignorant.

      August 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Yes.
    All of us.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. slider

    I suspose every English speaking American should learn to speak every langauge in the world so as to please the politically corrrect.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    My 7:34 reply was to
    sickofmouthypeople.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Slider,
    Not to be PC: to make all the money possible.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ahkmed the Terror Guy

    Back in 2003 when I sneaked accross the border disguised as an illegal Mexican, the only word they said I would need to know was 'trabajo'...work. So I got a job hearding sheep in Colorado and made this nifty plastic suicide vest out of the blowup dolls ranchers provide for their herders in the high country. I put little flashing red lights in the nips even. I was going to wear it on my first date with Sherryl(or how you spell) but she not go. 🙁

    August 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ahkmed the Terror Guy

    @police guy. Hoe-levi cow maybe?

    August 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ahkmed the Terror Guy

    Herding, rather. We give them blowup dolls to keep them off of the yearlings.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
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