October 1st, 2007
04:38 PM ET
11 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. Jim Topeka, KS

    When in Europe, even though the vast majority of individuals speak english, it is expected that you speak the langague of the region you were in, or at least make a valiant attempt. Not to do so is considered arrogant and rude. So why should it be any different in the United States, the English Language is the official language of America. If you want to live and work here, learn the language, I have no intention of learning an additonal language so I can converse in a country my family has been in over 200 years. Nor am I going to support providing government services of any type in multiple languages, except to visitors.

    October 1, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Lucia, Boston, MA

    I think it's ironic that so many of the comments that support the sign and agree that everybody in the U.S. should speak English have many grammatical errors in them. If you think that everyone in the U.S. should be required to learn to speak and read and write English, maybe you should begin by analyzing your own grasp of the English language. Would everybody be fine if a sign were put up requiring that they speak some other language when ordering? After all, we don't have an official language.

    October 1, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. Ali, Ithaca, NY

    You're gonna have trouble getting your cheesesteak the way you want it if you can't bother to learn the few words involved in ordering.

    If I went to another country and wanted a cheesesteak, you can bet I'd learn the words I needed to order it correctly. When you're the one person who doesn't know the language, and everyone else around you doesn't know yours, why would you expect THEM to conform to YOU? That's the height of arrogance.

    October 1, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Yan,sacramento,Ca

    My family came as legal immgrants from eastern Europe several years ago .We in absolute accord regarding learning english -this is our new language (our native language only for commincating within family and with some friends).Even temporary guests should learn how to communicate in the house (or country),for the people who intend to stay -it is must.

    October 1, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Maria

    Que Paso Guiliani, you are living in the 17th century. Hombre loco.

    October 1, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Disgusted, Philadelphia, PA

    Amen Geno. I'm sure this is not aimed at visitors because Philadelphia is very welcoming to the great guests we receive in our country. That said, If I visited another country I would expect to need to be able to speak their language to navigate and order food. I'm certain the sign is a result of this mass wave to make everything Spanish-friendly. Otherwise are people really saying that Geno's employees should be able to speak every language imaginable? Hardly! It's time for Americans to stop rolling over to make everyone else happy. It's Geno's right as a businessman to clearly state what is expected when ordering. Basically the MAJORITY of tax-paying citizens are English speaking and always have been in the USA. I feel that especially because people have BROKEN OUR LAWS and illegally entered this country (usually NOT PAYING TAXES but expecting to be educated and medically taken care of free of charge) we should not now FURTHER accomodate them to make them feel at home. They want to speak Spanish, then go home. We're wasting tax payers hard earned money to make Geno take a sign down? Pay for a few plane tickets home for the illegals!!

    October 1, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. open your mind

    Last time I read English is for English people as in from England. Come on where are you linguists at? I thought you knew better. Oh yeah, America is a Spanish word as in from Spain. Seems like you guys lost your identity when you emigrated. Get off my native land!

    October 1, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Jonathan Goldstein, Birmingham, AL

    I think it should be totally acceptable for a business to require that customers order their food in English. This is America, which is the "land of the free, and home of the brave". And any non-English speaking person has the right to speak whatever language they want to speak. But, if ordering food in a business that is owned and operated by an English speaking American, then they have to speak the language that the employees speak... obviously being English in most parts of the country. English is the language of the settlers of this country. If Spain had colonized America instead of the Brits, then we would be speaking Spanish... but, it wasn't and we're not.

    October 1, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Ballam, Brooklyn, NY

    This should start with the government making changes in the system. Start with the paperwork, no language other than english should be on any of the official paperwork, such as DMV, courts, immigration etc. You dont know english, you cannot take a road test, you dont know english you are not eligible for immigration, you dont know english you are convicted (I am kidding on this one). you get the point.

    October 1, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. Daniel, Atlanta, GA

    Dave from Atlanta,

    That makes entirely too much sense, expecting the average American citizen to demonstrate some basic knowledge of the English language or of the history of our nation. That assumes too much intelligence on the part of Joe Six-Pack. It's amusing to see how vocal certain segments of society can be regarding non-Native speakers when they THEMSELVES can't make it through a sentence without a spelling error or grammatical disaster. USA USA USA! Yeee haw! Keep digging that hole of ignorance and stupidity, America!

    October 1, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Karina

    to all those igonorants who call this country 'America" fist of all America is a Continent and not a country.
    This country is calle United States of America, by calling "America" is show how racist you people are.

    October 1, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. Ryan, Boston MA

    From a practical standpoint, the wated time at the window trying to figure out an order hurts Geno's business by reducing overall covers. Are the liberals going to make his payments when things slow down for him? Besides, everyone knows Genos' is better than Pat's, Giuliani HAD to eat there.

    October 1, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Ask yourself...if you moved to France – wouldn't you speak French? Its arrogant to not make an effort. It costs our country tens of millions of dollars to print all the forms in multiple languages – I would say that we make english the national language – and charge for forms in any language but english...thats fair...isn't it?

    October 1, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. JP - Bay Area, CA

    Where do I get a copy of that sign? In some parts you are more discrimanated against for speaking English. Half the food items are in packaged in Spanish only. Hey, let's send food to Spanish speaking countries with labels all in English & see how they like it

    October 1, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. John, Granger,IN

    Obama in '08! He has not changed his stance on immigration once.

    October 1, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Katherine, Aurora Co

    I am a liberal democrat and I cannot believe I'm about to say this but on this issue, I agree with Giuliani. If you want to come to America for a better life and more opportunity then have respect and learn the language. Enough with the "Press one for English".

    October 1, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Jordan H., Chicago, IL

    It looks as though many of you could use an English lesson as well...

    October 1, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. American Citizen, Bethesda, MD

    I don't see anything wrong with a "please speak English" sign. I think MORE places should have this sign. I think more people than not are tired of the "press one for English" way of life these days. I have absolutely nothing against people wanting to better themselves in the United States, but if you come here, come here to adapt to the United States way of life. Don't ask us to change things! Come legally, speak English, learn and flourish. THAT is the American Way.

    October 1, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Angry American; Rio Grande City, Texas

    I no way endorse the Republican Party, but if you live in the United States, speak English. If you don't want to learn to speak English and be an American, then go back where you came from. We have enough people on welfare that don't speak English.

    October 1, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |


    October 1, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  21. Darrell Standring, San Francisco, CA

    Hmmm...Giuliani supporting an English-only restaurant, McCain stating that the US is a Christian nation, and no Repubs showing up at African-American-sponsored debates. And the Repubs accuse everyone else of agendas for "special rights". Looks like the Repubs want W.A.S.P. special rights more, now than ever.

    October 1, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  22. Melinda Boise Idaho

    English hasn't always been 'the language' in North America. It forced its way into dominance, overriding the land and language of others. It's not a more righteous language. Many English only people seem afraid and paranoid - and their arrogance makes them ridiculous. (Oh, heaven forbid my child overhear another language!) I'm English dominant but if I speak Spanish, minding my own business, to another Spanish speaker, I get negative and racist comments from standers-by.EVERY DAY. I vote, work, and manage my business life in English, but somehow using my second language at all will offend some of you. Sure, people will do better if they speak fluent English. But English-only people will gain benefits from bilingualism too . . . and not just so they can 'pander to the illegals'. Stop being so arrogant.

    October 1, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. Robert, West Virginia

    So I'm guessing he is trying to win the hispanic vote, o wait not, they represent a large turnout of voters, he can't throw them out...but he has, Giuliani is now a hasbeen o well.

    October 1, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Edward, Fort Hood TX

    LOL, whatever happened to the illegal "Italian" immigrants of NYC? can they order in Italian or must they do it in English? Capisci quello che sto dicendo?

    October 1, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Nick Battle Creek MI

    A so called Liberal/Democrat is writing this.I agree with Rudy 110%. I have noticed that the French people treat Americans like dirt if they cant talk french. Why cant we start doing doing that here? By the way I think an electric fence should be installed on the border between the U.S and Mexico.

    October 1, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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