October 1st, 2007
04:38 PM ET
7 years ago

Giuliani to make 'English only' cheesesteak stop

Giuliani plans a stop at the famous Geno's steaks later Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – It's almost a necessity for any presidential candidate who swings through Philadelphia - making a stop at one of the city's famous cheesesteak shops.

But the landmark Philly restaurant former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani plans to stop at later Monday is also famous for another reason: its controversial 'Please speak English' sign.

Joe Vento, the owner of Geno's Steaks, sparked controversy last year when he put up a sign at his store proclaiming, "This is America. When Ordering Please Speak English."

Rachel Lawton, the executive director of the city's Human Relations Commission (HRC), blasted the sign in June 2006, saying it amounts to discrimination against those who cannot speak English. A hearing on the sign was scheduled last Wednesday but was postponed because the city wanted more time to review Vento's motion to dismiss the case, according to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

Giuliani, a Republican presidential frontrunner, has taken a hard stance on illegal immigration, formally pledging last August to solve the problem if elected president.

According to his Web site, Giuliani also proposes that all "immigrants who want to become citizens must truly read, write, and speak English and learn American civics."

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Pocahontas

    circa 1500 – speak Cherokee only please.

    October 1, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. JOAN LAMPMAN

    WHY IS IT DISCRIMINATORY IF JOE VENTO WANTS PEOPLE TO ORDER IN ENGLISH. THEY HAVE TO LEARN OUR LANGUAGE WE DON'T HAVE TO LEARN THIS UNLESS WE LIVED IN THEIR COUNTRY. BEHIND YOU JOE ALL THE WAY

    October 1, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Jeff, Mpls MN

    Someone ask me for a Budlight, "No speak English!"

    October 1, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. Elly, New York City, NY

    What was he thinking when he put up that sign? Is he kidding? New York City is one of the largest tourist city in the world! And secondly, New York City is founded on immigrants, look around and wake up! They're serving his coffee and bagel every morning, cleaning the streets and offices, doing the dirty work that HE, Mr. Speak English, would never do. Moreover Giulanni doesn't know a thing about this wonderful city if he fails to recorgnize the thousands of immigrants whom keep running the city so that "it never sleeps"

    Get real people, immigrants are here, and they're not that bad, given the chance.

    October 1, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Jason Mason, Michigan

    This is America ... primary language is and always shall be english, when you stop to think about it, we all should be speaking in the real native tongue ... American Indians were here before all of us ... Just be thankful that we aren't speaking German ... As much as people do not like it, this is a Christian nation, practice your own religion ... this country WAS established on christian values, if you do not like it LEAVE THIS COUNTRY NOW!!!

    October 1, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. dee chandler-tequesta,florida (originally from detroit)

    It's about time someone speaks out about this country's problem with everyone speaking what ever language they want to speak with NO respect for this country's language ENGLISH. If i were to move to another country i wound have to learn their language. Not just out of respect but is in it just common sense that thats what you do! This is the United States people NOT the united countrys! WE speak english and its always been this way. I am a 41 year old mother of a 3 year old boy and he will be raised to respect all countrys and their language. This country needs help!!!!

    October 1, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Marl Mesa az

    if they need to learn physics then all borm americans should too. I know many real americans who dont even know the VP's name. By the way ginos parents didnt speak english.

    October 1, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Scott from Freehold

    Rudy is such a pandering idiot.

    October 1, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Erik, Dallas TX

    Thank goodness, someone has to do something.....even if he is elected and doesn't follow through with it, at least he has the balls to announce his stance.

    October 1, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. Wendy Int'l Falls, MN

    Way to go Rudy and Geno!! I'm not Republican but FINALLY someone is standing up and proclaiming to immigrants (legal & illegal) that if you live here you ASSIMILATE if you don't want to do that then don't come!! You can keep you cultural integrity but you speak the langauge etc!! Its what America is all about!! There is nothing wrong (racisit or otherwise) with having some small measure of respect for the country in which we live, work etc. I hope the Democratic candidates are paying attention to this!!
    Wendy, Int'l Falls, MN

    October 1, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Jake, Shelton, CT

    RE: "Why does my daughter have to watch cartoons on a regular american channel that are partially in spanish.

    Posted By Heather, Leawood, Kansas : October 1, 2007 3:01 pm"

    Uhhh, are you strapping her in front of the TV and prying her eyes open?

    October 1, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    I normally consider myself to be on the liberal side of things, but there is a degree of truth to the language issue presented here. When I travel, the least I can do when in foreign countries is try to learn how to say "please", "thank you" and a few other key phrases. I also make an attempt at ordering food in the country's language, albiet simplistically.
    I agree that immigrants should learn to read and write English at least on the basic skills level before becoming citizens. I wouldn't move to say, Greece, and expect to vote in their elections unless I was familiar with their culture, language, etc.

    October 1, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. Charles Brown, Birmingham, Alabama

    This is America! Speak ENGLISH should be everywhere. We need to help people learn the speak this language, however if people are going live and work in the United States they need to speak English. Other immigrants who came to this country from Germany, Poland, China, Japan, Hungry, etc. the U.S. did not push America to speak those languages those indviduals learned English.

    Last week I was summoned to jury duty and one of the qualifications to serve in Alabama is "Read, Speak, and understand the English Language". This needs to be nation wide.

    This restaurant owner is being quite polite in asking to speak English. Thank you, Joe Venta for taking a stand on this issue.

    October 1, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Molly, Elmhurst, IL

    It's about time somebody stood up for USA! I can't get away from ignorant people speaking their languages only and never English. If you can't speak, read or write the English language, then how can you ever communicate with American citizens? It seems Americans need to accommodate foreigners more and more. Learn the language or GET OUT!

    October 1, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Bill, Minnesota

    Life in the United States must be pretty "hum-drum" if THIS is considered newsworthy!!

    We are in for an awfully L O N G election year.

    October 1, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. Dee, Chicago, IL

    I'm also a Dem (now I'm kind of in the middle) but I agree that you should learn how to speak English if you want to only work and live here. If they have to then make things official. So be it. Don't other countries have an official language?

    October 1, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Alison - Atlanta GA

    I think some of you are missing the point here. A savvy international traveler will bring a Berlitz book with them so they can order lunch and ask where the bathroom is when they are traveling in a foreign land. I believe Mr. Cheese steak restaurant owner is addressing the issue of an English speaking citizen having to press one to hear English when they dial and use an automated system on the phone or have to CHOOSE English at the drive up ATM. Keep coddling these immigrants who refuse to get Visas or become citizens and when you answer the phone at your Human Relations Commissions office you will have to say Hola instead of Hello.

    October 1, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Conservative James, Phoenix AZ

    Those immigrating to the US should not be REQUIRED to learn English... it should be optional.

    However – all Government/State forms (driver test, voting, etc) should be in English only.

    You don't HAVE to learn English. And you don't HAVE to drive, vote, or participate.

    October 1, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. Dan, UPSTATE NY

    you're missing the point, if i own a business, i have to make sure not to offend anyone? that's crap. it's my business, if you don't like it, don't patronize it, but a hearing by this HRC is B.S. WHERE DOES IT END? SINCE WHEN DOES POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OVERRIDE MY FREEDOMS!?!?!

    October 1, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. Mark Shrigley, Columbus, Ohio

    Some people are missing the point. I will go back to the old phrase: When in Rome...
    Enough said.
    Visit
    FuzzySnake.com to learn more.

    October 1, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. Bob Rockerfeller

    Good.
    Vento is right, nothing wrong with that.
    Get used to saying President Giuliani.

    October 1, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  22. D Hutchinson, Madison, AL

    Most everybody seems to be missing the point here (IMHO as always). The question about immigrants learning English is important, but the political point is Rudy going out of his way to make a point with the more nationalistic-Pat Buchanan part of the party. While this may help in the primaries, I don't think it will sway many independents/Democrats and will definitely not help get Hispanic citizens (who were actively courted by Bush II, who is bilingual).

    Rudy may have helped himself toward the nomination, but I think it may come back to haunt him should he get the nomination.

    October 1, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Colony 14 author, Mount Prospect, Illinois

    There are several thousand different languages and dialects in the world, and I'm not sure where a restaurant owner could find an order-taker who speaks all of them. We don't need more people who speak many languages, we need fewer lawyers and activists.

    October 1, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. Ali, Lansing, MI

    Don, do YOU know how stupid it sounds for you to say that tourists should come here and NOT expect to know some basic English, like "A Philly cheesesteak, please"–if they're planning on going to such places. Or, as someone else pointed out, is the waitstaff expected to be able to speak to anyone in whatever language they happen to want to speak?

    October 1, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. dumbredneckhick, anytown in south

    Hey this is America! People should learn to speak American!

    October 1, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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