Henceforth, Letters Regarding Office Depot's English-Only Policy Shall Be Published in Esperanto

When I read Mr. Richard Escobar's extremist letter regarding the English-only affair at Office Depot ("Remember: The Customer Is Always American," December 21) in your January 4 issue, I had no other choice but to answer.

I am an American citizen of Latin origin and I did not exactly come crawling out of a hole. Because of the way I was educated, I can write and speak fluently in Spanish and English, Italian and Portuguese, French and German, and I can also read a little bit of Russian, old Sanskrit, Latin, and Esperanto.

The knowledge of different languages has taught me to be more humble and less arrogant. By speaking other people's languages, I have been able to understand their idiosyncrasies and the richness of their cultures. If there is one sin, that sin is ignorance, the ignorance that we are all one, that we breathe the same air, and that differences have been manmade to divide and separate us. Racism, prejudices, and bigotry only lead to Bosnias and Serbias, concentration camps, hatred, and war. To promote the superiority of one race over another is not only morally and spiritually wrong, but extremely dangerous and short-sighted.

The United States is not the world. I am an American citizen and very proud of that. I am proud of our common heritage, of the countless Americans who devote their lives to helping mankind, our forests, rivers, and environment. I am proud of the brave soldiers and firefighters, I am proud of the blacks and whites, the Indians and Latins who have contributed to the grandeur of this heroic nation. I would invite Mr. Escobar to take a look at history. He is going to find many interesting surprises, and he will find that many Spanish-speaking people, such as me, have not come crawling out of a dirty hole as he so arrogantly expresses in his letter, but have given our blood and lives to more than one of Uncle Sam's wars.

It is all right to tell Office Depot employees to address their customers in English. That is 100 percent correct, but it is totally wrong to forbid them to speak their mother tongue, a very rich language spoken by millions throughout the world.

Please, Mr. Escobar, take a deep breath and look back to your roots. Read history. Remember: Bigotry and hatred only lead to wars and destruction.

Oscar Rodriguez Orgallez
Miami Beach

"Bertran" . . . That's an Esperanto Surname!
This is in response to Richard Escobar's letter regarding the English-only policy at Office Depot. How can he be so ignorant? He writes that these immigrants are ungrateful to the land that gave them so many opportunities, that they are responsible for crime, rising taxes, unemployment, and lack of housing. Well, for starters, look at his last name. He has a Latin last name. Making the comment he made about other immigrants contradicts his own roots.

Needless to say, the only people who have a legitimate gripe about this land are Native Americans. They are the ones that were driven off their lands by the first immigrants that came to this country. This land was originally their land; however, this land has received many immigrants from many different countries all over the world, for many years. That is one of the things that makes this country unique. It is a nation of nations.

On that note, he should open up a history book and become a little educated on the country that he claims to know so much about, and then he will realize who the true Americans of this country are.

Clara Bertran

®Como Se Dice "Cafe Cubano" en Esperanto?
I think something is being missed in the discussion of Office Depot's English-only policy. It has to do with cultural context. It is often mentioned that South Florida's multiethnic population offers cultural enrichment. (I assume that the American culture is what is being enriched, but it goes without saying that the immigrant culture is being enriched by the American and other ethnic cultures as well.)

If an English-speaker goes to a Cuban cafe, it can be cultural enrichment. One would expect to hear Spanish spoken, and if the business has any business sense, English also. However, if an English speaker goes into a national chain store, be it Dunkin' Donuts, Woolworth's, 7-Eleven, or Kmart, he or she would expect to be addressed -- not to mention understood -- in English. Encountering a clerk or salesperson (sometimes the only person available) who speaks no English is not cultural enrichment. The store management that hired the employee, probably for low wages and/or unpopular hours, is the one whose policy is culturally insensitive.

Stephen Weiss
Miami Beach

With Liberty and Esperanto for All
I want to say a few nasty things regarding all this madness about English-only and bilingualism. This xenophobia is beginning to go too far.

In the same issue, a fiery anti-Hispanic letter was written by a certain Mr. Escobar (a Hispanic surname), and a passionate defense of multiculturalism and civil rights by a Mr. Clement (an Anglo-Saxon surname).

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