“Why Should I Press ‘1’ for English?”

Recently I was driving back from the store when notice that the redneck in the truck in front of me has labeled himself so that no one will confuse him with, say a person with a modicum of intelligence. The NRA member sticker was the first indicator, which might sound judgmental. For an organisation that carries the likes of a draft-dodging douchebag like Ted Nugent I’m not sure that I care whether it offends anyone or not.

The sticker that stood out the most this time however was one I had seen numerous times before that apparently indicated some difficulty in pressing a number on a telephone’s keypad. “Why Should I Have to Press 1 for English?”  It seems that this particular redneck (and he’s not alone in this thought) feels that since this is America all “phone trees” should only be available in English. What a great idea, after all this country is not a “melting pot” of varying ethnic backgrounds from varying corners of the world attempting to live freely and equally under the banner of “Old Glory”…oh, wait.

The problem I have with this sort of, well Aryan mentality is that it’s ignorant. It implies that the United States is only host to “English” speaking peoples. The fact is that it’s not really English that we speak, but a bastardised version. We have altered the language enough that what we now speak and write is no longer what those across the pond speak but another separate dialect all it’s own. You can compare it to the difference between the language spoke in France and Canadian French; similar but each unique. We should be calling it “American English” instead.

Also, I’m a little tired of this feeling of entitlement that is so common in this country. Europeans invaded and took over this country, enslaving or killing anyone that tried to stand in their way. When they ran short of people to push around, they then went to other less developed countries and stole (even if only figuratively in some cases) members of different races of people to bring back and put to work.

When slavery was abolished immigration increased, exponentially. More people flooded into the United States seeking better opportunity and less oppression that what was offered in their homeland. With the arrival of those immigrants came their culture, their heritage, and yes even their language. These are all components of what makes up an individual and asking any person to let go of any of that is not just arrogant, it’s also extremely disrespectful and insulting. However that is the attitude that Americans carry, that ours is the proper way for this country and the only one that should be allowed outside of the privacy of one’s home. Too bad they don’t share the same opinion with the religion they try to use to dictate how everyone lives.

The fact is that, rather than pressing 1 for “English”, technically we should be pressing 1 for “American Indian” (followed by a menu of various tribe dialects) then 2 for “American English”, followed by the other languages that are spoken in this country. Unfortunately, most of the original tribal dialects have been all but been removed, even among their own tribes. Rather than everyone else trying to assimilate to what a select group (that is rapidly losing it’s place as the majority) wants, we should be accommodating everyone that shares this country.

The fact is that we are a great “Melting Pot” of a country, as are most developed countries. We, as a country need to learn that our arrogance is unfounded and our sense of entitlement is misguided, at best. This issue with having to “press 1″ is insignificant to be sure, but it speaks volumes about us as we try to take our place in the world. We want to be taken seriously as a country by the other kids on the playground when in truth what they see is equivalent of a school-yard bully. Relatively uneducated and arrogant, we try to shove the kids that are different to the ground and then take their lunch money. The problem with bullies is that eventually, those who are being bullied usually ending up uniting together and reclaiming the playground.


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