In the EU, the failure to speak more than one language is seen as a sign of poor education and a lack of consideration for the people with whom they share the planet.
In America, monolingual chauvinists expect the rest of the world to bend to their own refusal to expand their communications skills and learn English — despite their own complete disinterest in acquiring any foreign language skills.
The changing demographics of our immigration-created nation are making the people for whom “English-only” is a rallying cry increasingly vocal about their lack of comfort with the changes America is experiencing and are now facing pushback for their linguistically xenophobic attitudes.
The proof that exhibitions of prejudicial actions towards the non-English speakers are now becoming socially unacceptable can be seen in the results of a recent election for a position as a village trustee in South Jacksonville, Illinois.
Stacy Wallis Pinkerton was running for re-election to the town’s board of trustees but faced the insurmountable obstacle of negative public opinion after posting an angry rant on Facebook in reaction to having to interact with a Spanish speaking customer who entered the engine repair shop owned and operated by her and her husband.
The since-deleted post displayed an attitude of nativist bigotry and ignorance in her unsolicited Facebook post.
“Omg some people and i mean the people that don’t speak english,” the post began, according to the Springfield, Illinois State-Journal Register. Pinkerton went on to call theSpanish-speaing customer a ”(s)tupid (expletive)” who “can’t figure it out, that we dont know what he is saying.”
After angry local residents commented on her post, Pinkerton deleted it and posted an apology on the social media platform — a belated, if wise, move for a candidate for public office — claiming that her post wasn’t intended “to be discriminative or hateful.”
Unfortunately for Pinkerton’s re-election campaign, the damage had already been done. despite the advantage of incumbency, she placed sixth in a seven-person race for three seats on the board of trustees.
Hopefully, the public repudiation of Pinkerton’s linguistic bigotry will provide a lesson to other people who refuse to utilize the modern technology available on every smartphone to enable communications with people with whom they don’t share a common language. In the modern world, one can easily figure out a way to communicate if one wants to.
Better to light a candle than curse the darkness as the saying goes. It just takes the will and an openness to others, rather than closed-minded xenophobia, to bridge the language barrier.
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Original reporting by The State Journal-Register staff.