"NY Pols Seek To Make Business Signs Mostly English"

Hi Gang:
Here is an important news report that aired on the local CBS radio station in New York this weekend and deals with one of many components of the immigration issue that is rarely discussed- the “Balkanization” of the United States.
A nation does not require that its inhabitants practice a common religion or come from the same part of the world- indeed, one of the things that makes major metropolitan cities such as New York such a vibrant and exciting place in which to live, work or visit is the great diversity to be found in the various neighborhoods and among the restaurants and stores.  New York is arguably the most diverse city in the United States and, perhaps, the world.  
Language, however, is the mortar that holds a society together and creates a sense of cohesion that is vital to enable the members of that society to interact, conduct business and ultimately develop an understanding of one another and hopefully a sense of mutual respect.
The political leaders in New York City who have come forward to effect the necessary changes demonstrated some real leadership and commonsense!
My mom legally immigrated to the United States in the years ahead of the Holocaust.  When she arrived in the United States she was only able to speak, read and write Polish and Yiddish.  My dad was born in the United States but his parents and most of his siblings legally immigrated to the United States shortly after the turn of the last century from Russia.  His family could only read, write or speak Russian and Yiddish.  For all of my ancestors, the first order of business upon arriving in the United States was to learn to become fluent in the English language.
We often hear much talk about the need to accept new immigrants- the issue here is if the immigrants are willing to accept America!
This quote from the article is particularly disconcerting:
“People must respect that this is a special area and please respect the Asian culture,” said Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association. “They have their own life in this area. When you walk in the street, you don’t feel like you are in America.”


The issue of fluency in the English language and the posting of signs on business establishments that have at least some English language is not about a failure to respect the “Asian culture” but about safety and commonsense!
Perhaps the Flushing Chinese Business Association needs to show some respect for the fact that they are living and working in the United States.
Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians need to be able to quickly identify business establishments so that they can readily identify those establishments that require emergency assistance.  
It is startling that at a time that many people are frustrated by the bi-lingual nature of our society that there are, apparently, immigrants who oppose bi-lingual signs be posted on their establishments and are demanding that they be permitted to eschew the English language altogether!
What those business owners may not realize or, perhaps realize but somehow don’t care, is that by only posting signs in Asian languages, potential non-Asian customers may decide to not patronize those stores and restaurants.
We are certainly fortunate that immigrants from Great Britain would not take a similar approach and demand to continue their practice of driving on the “wrong side” of the street!  Imagine what chaos that would cause!
While we are on the topic of motorists, it is also crazy that in New York the written road test for a driver’s license can be taken in nearly a dozen different languages!  How can a motorist safely drive a vehicle safely if he (she) is unable to read road signs?  I would love to know how many car accidents have been caused, at least in part, because a driver could not understand road signs.
It is extremely important that we all respect each other, but that respect must flow both ways!  
As my parents taught me when I was a young boy, “Before you can get respect, you must first give Respect.  Respect must be a two way street!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!

The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to get involved!
I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world.  However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If our government’s failures to secure our nation’s borders and effectively enforce our immigration laws concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler- 

Please check out my website:

Additionally- this summer, on Friday afternoons from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time, I will be filling in for Tom Garcia as the host on The USA Talk Radio Network’s excellent radio show, “The American Hour.”

I hope you will be joining my cohost, Paula Lauzon Ostman and me, on Fridays this summer!

Here is the link for this program:


NY Pols Seek To Make Business Signs Mostly English

Taxis and cars drive past Canal Street in Chinatown in Manhattan
April 23, 2007 in New York. New York is mulling a congestion-pricing
scheme for Manhattan, Mayor Bloomberg announced recently. (Photo by
Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — The teeming streets of Flushing, Queens, can feel like a different country.

A booming Chinese population exists alongside a longtime Korean
enclave. On a recent afternoon, the sidewalks were jammed with shoppers
browsing and haggling in stores offering everything from iPhones to
herbal remedies. Stalls selling fragrant dumplings and tea shops did a
brisk business.

Day trippers from Manhattan or the suburbs often come to eat and shop
here on weekends, savoring the broad array of foods and products
available. But to some, the area can feel a little too foreign.

Republican City Councilmen Dan Halloran and Peter Koo are drafting
legislation that would require store signs in the city to be mostly in
English. They say police officers and firefighters need to be able to
quickly identify stores.

The change also would protect consumers and allow local shops to
expand outside their traditional customer base, the council members
argue. But merchants say it would be an unnecessary and costly burden on
small businesses and would homogenize diverse pockets of the city that
cater mostly to immigrant residents.

“People must respect that this is a special area and please respect
the Asian culture,” said Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing
Chinese Business Association. “They have their own life in this area.
When you walk in the street, you don’t feel like you are in America.”

Two bills are pending in the council to change language on store
signs. One, introduced in May, would authorize inspectors with the city
Department of Consumer Affairs to enforce a little-known state law that
requires businesses to display their names in English. The second bill,
which will be introduced later this summer, would stipulate that the
sign should be at least 60 percent English. Businesses would have four
years to comply, after which they’d face fines starting at $150.

“This is designed for public safety, consumer protection and to start
increasing the foot traffic into the stores,” Halloran said.

The law on the books — passed in 1933 and dubbed the true name bill —
classifies a violation as a misdemeanor but is not enforced. Its
primary intent was to protect creditors and consumers from fraud by
informal stores that popped up during the Great Depression.

The president of the Flushing on the Hill Civic Association, David
Kulick, said store signs provoke different concerns these days, mostly
from longtime residents who find it insulting or off-putting when they
can’t read them.

Assemblywoman Grace Meng said she’s heard many of those complaints.
She started a task force on the issue last year and supports the council

“The heart of the issue is not just about an English sign,” Meng
said. “They don’t feel like they can communicate in their own

The issue has cropped up before in the district.

Similar legislation was proposed in the 1980s by former Councilwoman
Julia Harrison. Her successor, John Liu, now city comptroller,
commissioned a survey eight years ago and found only a small percentage
of signs did not include English.

A spokesman for Liu said the legislation was probably unnecessary.

“In an ever-changing global city, this issue has surfaced for the
past 100 years in different parts of New York, involving a panoply of
languages from Yiddish to Spanish to Greek and now Chinese and Korean,”
Liu spokesman Matthew Sweeney said in a statement.

Koo, who currently represents Flushing in the council, owns five
local pharmacies with signs in English and Chinese. He said he would
change his own signs to comply with the law.

“This is America, right? English is the main language,” Koo said. “If
I go to a Spanish or Polish neighborhood I would like the sign to at
least be in English so I can understand.”

Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement
District, said most stores in Flushing would have to change their signs
to comply with the law because they include English but not enough of

Yu added that there was a misperception that local merchants don’t
want non-Asian customers. Many shops simply cater to Asian customers
because they make the bulk of the purchases, he said.

The bills’ prospects remain unclear.

Councilwoman Diana Reyna, chair of the small business committee, said
in a statement it would strain relationships between immigrant
entrepreneurs and the government.

Councilman Peter Vallone, chair of the public safety committee, said
there are unresolved questions about how the legislation would work,
such as whether the size of the lettering would matter.

The Department of Consumer Affairs referred questions to the mayor’s
office, which declined to comment. A police spokeswoman, Detective
Cheryl Crispin, said in an email the department was “not aware of this
arising as a police issue.”

Meng said the bill was part of a wider strategy to encourage interaction between different groups in her district.

“My goal in bringing up this whole issue a year ago was to bridge the
gap between cultures,” she said. “This is not going to solve it. But
it’s part of the resolution.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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