January 4, 2008

A classic column by Sam Francis

     Last summer [2004], William Donald Schaefer, former 
governor and present comptroller of the state of 
Maryland, made the news when he groused about a worker at 
McDonald's who couldn't take his order because he 
couldn't speak English. "I don't want to adjust to 
another language," Mr. Schaefer grumped in public 
comments. "This is the United States. I think they ought 
to adjust to us."

     "They" of course, means immigrants, and "us" means 
-- well -- us, Americans. Predictably, Mr. Schaefer took 
some gas for his frankness, but he probably should get 
used to that. Thanks to mass immigration, he should also 
start learning Spanish, if not several other languages.

     What Mr. Schaefer was complaining about is the 
obvious result of allowing millions of immigrants from 
dozens of different countries and cultures into your own 
country in the course of a generation, and it's a result 
that even slow learners like the WASHINGTON POST are 
starting to absorb. Last week the POST visited the 
problem of "multilingualism" in the workplace in its 
"Business" section, since employers are also starting to 
figure out that the predictable consequences of mass 
immigration aren't always good for business.

     That is why a number of companies are effectively 
making their employees learn English -- to deal with 
customers like Mr. Schaefer as well as to expedite 
simple administrative processes like safety and health. 
The National Restaurant Association has developed a 
program to teach immigrant employees English, and so has 
Allied Domecq, the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and 

     Optimists will say, See, that means the free market 
will solve the problem of multilingualism. Since 
employers realize it's good business for employees to 
speak a common language, they will encourage linguistic 
assimilation, and cultural assimilation will follow. The 
truth is less simple and less rosy. Sometimes that may be 
the case; sometimes not.

     Other companies don't encourage English among 
employees and in fact encourage American employees to 
learn foreign languages. "Some employers maintain that 
teaching workers English doesn't make sense," the POST 
reports, "in part because demographics are shifting."

     Target, for example, started offering Spanish 
classes to its managers in Virginia and Maryland two 
years ago and encourages them to take them. The chain now 
offers the course in all its outlets in 47 states. "It 
really has to do with serving our guests," smirks a 
spokeswoman of the effort to get the employees to learn 
what the POST calls the "language of Cervantes." "It's a 
way to get them to feel comfortable at our store."

     Presumably it is too much to ask that the chain 
might feel some attachment to the language of Shakespeare 
and Jefferson and wish to preserve or encourage it. What 
does matter to the chain, as to most other businesses, is 
how much they can sell. As one businessman quoted by the 
POST remarks, "You can sell more widgets to someone in 
their language than you can in yours." The truth is that 
the market doesn't help solve the problem. The market is 
the problem.

     It does not seem to have occurred to some managers 
that the problems they have already created by 
encouraging mass immigration in the first place and 
refusing to encourage assimilation in the second are only 
going to get worse -- as more and more immigrants from 
more and more cultures, countries, and linguistic 
traditions invite themselves here. The problem does occur 
to some who have to live with it.

     Carlos Figueroa, maintenance crew member in 
Arlington, says that "from time to time he finds himself 
at a loss when trying to communicate with employees who 
speak Arabic and Korean. His work-team partner, Aron 
Jones, said he has resorted to drawing pictures in the 
dirt to get his point across." That's one thing when it's 
a maintenance crew. It might be another when it's a 
hospital, as it is at Washington's Sibley Memorial.

     "We do a lot of show and tell," says one manager at 
the hospital, where workers are shown videos in Spanish 
and English about "the handling of infectious materials 
and working with hazardous chemicals." "And then we show 
and tell again so that basic communication isn't an 
issue. Repetition is very big around here." Patients can 
only hope the staff shows and tells correctly.

     What employers, from food services to hospitals, are 
starting to discover is what customers like Mr. Schaefer 
found out years ago -- that mass immigration causes far 
more problems than it solves as the common culture -- not 
just language but also manners and morals -- that defines 
and disciplines a society crumbles under immigration's 
impact. For many, including those who can make money from 
the crumbling, it's good business. For everyone else, 
it's the chaos that the collapse of a common civilization 
always causes.

[This column was originally published by Creators 
Syndicate on September 17, 2004.]


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Copyright (c) 2008 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation,
P.O. Box 270, Vienna, VA 22183. All rights reserved.

Political pundit Samuel Francis was an author and
syndicated columnist. A former deputy editorial-page 
editor for THE WASHINGTON TIMES, he received the 
Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing from 
the American Society of Newspaper Editors in both 1989 
and 1990.

collection of some of Dr. Francis's writing and speeches,
has been published by FGF Books, the publishing imprint 
of the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. See

Contact the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation at to obtain permission to reprint this