Monday, October 26, 2009

New Mexico Hotel Owner Exercises His Interpretation of Offical English! Speak English Only! Change Your Name!

Here is ANOTHER REASON NOT TO PASS THE "OFFICIAL ENGLISH" legislation supported by the ANTIs!!
Larry Whitten, a retired marine, is used to people following his orders. The Virginia-born Whitten spent 40 years in the hotel business, turning around more than 20 hotels in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and South Carolina, before moving with his wife to Taos, NM. and purchasing the Paragon Inn. Whitten's management style did not work for him in Taos.

Whitten marched into the hotel with a strong arm. He layed down the law immediately! Among his own rules: he forbade the Hispanic workers at the run-down, Southwestern adobe-style hotel from speaking Spanish in his presence. He also ORDERED them to CHANGE THEIR NAMES to some Anglicize version. No more Martin (Mahr-TEEN). It was plain-old Martin. No more Marcos. Now it would be Mark. If employees did NOT follow Whitten's Rule of Law, they were Fired!

In the past, Whitten's "rule of law" worked for him. The 63-year-old Texan, however, wasn't prepared for what followed. His rules and his firing of several Hispanic employees, angered his employees and many in this liberal enclave of 5,000 residents at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, where the most alternative of lifestyles can find a home and where Spanish language, culture and traditions have a long and revered history

Whitten lamented, "I'm doing what I have always done."

Former workers, their relatives and some town residents picketed across the street from the hotel. "I do feel he's a racist, but he's a racist out of ignorance. He doesn't know that what he's doing is wrong," says protester Juanito Burns Jr.

When Whitten initially arrived, he met with employees. Due to his abusive management style, he was afraid that they were talking about him in Spanish. Whitten immediately ordered his employees to speak English Only. To make matters worse, he ordered anyone who had a Hispanic surname to CHANGE THEIR NAME to the anglicized version. Those that DID NOT OBEY both of these rules were immediatly fired.

Fired hotel manager Kathy Archuleta says the workers initially tried to adjust to Whitten's style. "We had already gone through four or five owners before him, so we knew what to expect," Archuleta says. "I told (the workers) we needed to give him a chance." Then Whitten told some employees he was changing their Spanish first names. He said, "It has nothing to do with racism. I'm not doing it for any reason other than for the satisfaction of my guests, because people calling from all over America don't know the Spanish accents or the Spanish culture or Spanish anything," Whitten says.

Martin Gutierrez, another fired employee, says he felt disrespected when he was told to use the unaccented Martin as his name. He says he told Whitten that Spanish was spoken in New Mexico before English. "He told me he didn't care what I thought because this was his business," Gutierrez says.

The messages and comments Whitten made in interviews with local media, including referring to townsfolk as "mountain people" and "potheads who escaped society," further enflamed tensions. The town was in an uproar and protested against Whitten.

During the AP interview after hearing from the fired employees and the townspeople, Whitten became subsued. He said he was sorry for the misunderstanding and insisted he has never been against any culture. "What kind of fool or idiot or poor businessman would I be to orchestrate this whole crazy thing that's costed me a lot of time, money and aggravation?" Whitten said. (Note:We don't know Mr. Whitten. What kind of racist fool are you?? We know. We know. Some of your best friends are Latino and former Hippies. How could we think otherwise?)
Whitten should have dealt with the situation differently, especially in a majority Hispanic town, said 71-year-old Taos artist Ken O'Neil, while sipping his afternoon coffee on the town's historic plaza. "To make demands like he did just seems over the top," he says. "Nobody won here. It's not always about winning. Sometimes, it's about what you learn."


JS said...

Since English is not the official language of this country yet how can you claim that this hotel owner is using official English to interpret anything? You made that up on your own. By the way, many Americans want English to be our official language so why are you claiming it is only the anti's who want it? English is already the official language in 28 states you can't possibly be claiming that it was adopted because of some anti-illegal immigration views? Where is your proof of that?

Any business owner can make most of their own rules. He probably doesn't speak Spanish so why would he want his employees to do so in his presence? He wouldn't be able understand them. English should always be spoken while on duty at work for safety's sake. The courts have always backed that up. He didn't say they couldn't speak Spanish outside of his hearing distance so why are you making a big deal out of it?

As for his insistance that the workers pronounce their names in an
Anglicize way, I do disagree with him on that. A person's name is a person's name. However it is his hotel and he can make the rules even though the name thing was absurd.

Dee said...

Re-read the article. He believed it was his way or hit the highway. He established his own rule of law in his businesses. This is just like Official English supporters.

Our country currently has established English as our National language. We don't need to have legislation saying English is our Official Language.

If the Official English supporters had their way, no government publication could be printed in any language but English. No translators would be provided for anyone. Some supporters would ban any other language in any work location. That is what this owner did.

He took it one step further.

Every worker with a hispanic sounding name had to CHANGE HIS NAME.

The owner DEMANDED ABSOLUTE POWER and it is obvious.. his absolute power corrupted him absolutely.

Then he wondered, he wondered why he recieved such a backlash.

JS said...

Re-read the article. No where did this man use "official English" as defense for his actions. New Mexico doesn't have English as their official langauge. Official English isn't about that all anyway. In public anyone would be able to speak any language they like. He didn't say that the workers couldn't speak Spanish out of earshot of himself. I know many employers who have a policy of English only while on duty but breaks and lunches are the acception. It is not against the law to demand English only for safety reasons on the job.

I am all for cutting unecessary expenses from our federal budget especially in view of the fact that our country is in an economic crisis. That is one of the things that an Offical English bill will do. There is no reason that an immigrant should expect anything printed in their native language. They can have family and friends help them with documents in English.

Dee said...

Blaahhh, Blaaahhh, Blaaahhh.
There is only ONE reason for Official English legislation. To stop people from speaking Spanish. It is totally xenophobic and part of the restrictionist agenda.

In Europe, people speak 4 - 6 languages. Education is the great equalizer. I took French and Russian in school. Knowledge is power.

The reason restrictionists want to pass "Official English" is to stop the printing of government documents in spanish; stop the use of any government information - in Spanish; never provide translators Spanish to English; stop any type of voter assistance in Spanish.

And then to top it off, some restrictionist business owners and police will take this to the extreme, as this business owner did and as the policeman in Dallas did a week ago when he ticketed a driver -FOR SPEAKING SPANISH!!

JS said...

He didn't estabish his own rule of law when that term is commonly used as in national laws not in private interprise. That term doesn't belong in your argument. He didn't violate any laws by insisting that employees don't speak a foreign tongue in his presence.

This incident has nothing to due with the proposed "Offial English" bill. With our without it an employer can make their own rules inside their places of business. Official English would not deny anyone the right to speak a foreign tongue in PUBLIC no matter what some minority group of Americans might want. So cares about them??? Why do you just mention Spanish? It would apply to all foreign languages.

How much of your Russian and French do you use? Probably next to nothing. It doesn't matter what some other country's citizens do. We have no need to learn any other language in this country. We have gotten along fine as a mostly mono-lingual country for over 200 years. No one should be forced to learn any other language than the language of the country they are residing in. If you don't use it, you lose it anyway. Don't try and tell other Americans what they should do based on what you do. Learning another language should be elective and no one should be critized for seeking more sensible courses of study.

I am familiar with the Dallas PD incident. The officers will be dealt with and rightly so. Again, this incident has nothing to do with "Official English" either and you know it.

Dee said...

Let's agree that Whitten, as the business owner, has the right to set his own office policies, though we don't have to like them.

You and I don't have to agree with them. Neither do the workers. I think we both agree that it wasn't fair for him to ask his workers to change their names.

And it is clear the locals in the area did not like nor appreciate his attitude towards them (calling them mountain people/potheads, etc) and his disrespect of the workers.

I suspect the end result will be that neither the locals nor consumers will visit his run down motel anyway, particularly with his attitude.

Regarding Official English, you and I will probably never agree on this subject. I noted why I mentioned it for this story. And I noted why I disagree with the legislation overall. You don't have to agree with me. I don't have to agree with you.

Vicente Duque said...

People think illegal aliens are the problem and the truth is that they are not even a blip on the radar compared to what is really wrong.

I am not advocating open borders and amnesty for everybody. That is absurd. Nobody is saying that in these forums.

The greatest Historical Problem of the USA is the Wars. Everything else is bananas and small potatoes.

If these wars are going to continue eternally they are going to do some damage.

Analysis of Youth and Minority Politics :

Vicente Duque

Vicente Duque said...

Saving Face and Losing Lives - by House Representative Ron Paul from Texas, Document of October 14, 2009
by Rep. Ron Paul, October 14, 2009

Saving Face and Losing Lives

Some excerpts :

I have other questions. We overthrew the Taliban government in 2001 with less than 10,000 American troops. Why does it now seem that the more troops we send, the worse things get? If the Soviets bankrupted themselves in Afghanistan with troop levels of 100,000 and were eventually forced to leave in humiliating defeat, why are we determined to follow their example? Most importantly, what is there to be gained from all this? We’ve invested billions of dollars and thousands of precious lives – for what?

The truth is it is no coincidence that the more troops we send the worse things get. Things are getting worse precisely because we are sending more troops and escalating the violence. We are hoping that good leadership wins out in Afghanistan, but the pool of potential honest leaders from which to draw has been fleeing the violence, leaving a tremendous power vacuum behind. War does not quell bad leaders. It creates them. And the more war we visit on this country, the more bad leaders we will inadvertently create.

Another thing that war does is create anger with its indiscriminate violence and injustice. How many innocent civilians have been harmed from clumsy bombings and mistakes that end up costing lives? People die from simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a war zone, but the killers never face consequences. Imagine the resentment and anger survivors must feel when a family member is killed and nothing is done about it. When there are no other jobs available because all the businesses have fled, what else is there to do but join ranks with the resistance, where there is a paycheck and also an opportunity for revenge? This is no justification for our enemies over there, but we have to accept that when we push people, they will push back.

At this point we are only strengthening the resolve and the ranks of our enemies. We have nothing left to win. We are only there to save face, and in the end we will not even be able to do that.

The Imbecility of War and the Idiots that fan the flames :

Vicente Duque

Anonymous said...

I checked out several versions of the story, I see most as slightly reworded plagiarisms of the AP article.

Not being present, my first thought is the name thing is nuts. Who really cares?

On the other hand, I've heard Filipinos, Chinese, and subcontinent Indians from those so called customer service centers located overseas, and from whom I had a hard time understanding what they were saying: The names were Pat, John, Steven, Stephanie, Rachel, Barbara and so on. Nice try, not fooling anyone.

However, there are other things being overlooked. I don't know the people involved, I wasn't there, and this is my take from sifting through several versions of the story.

The man has purchased something like 20 failing motels, turned them around, and sold them for a profit. Whitten apparently has a good batting record in the business.

Whitten bought the failing Paragon for $2 million, evidently he saw potential.

The motel had several former owners, yet all the staff remained through all the ownership changes. The question remains, why did each and every previous owner sell? You don't sell a gold mine unless you are retiring. Was the turn over in ownership not only only high, but frequent? Did all those owners come from out of town?

A former Employee said that the employees “knew what to expect” since they had been employed through all those owners, Whitten said the employees were hostile from the get go. Is this baggage Whitten bought with the physical structure of the motel?

I have 'seen in action' people who will talk c**P about someone right in front of that person if they thought the target didn't understand their language (doesn't matter nationality or language), and maybe Whitten had been through that sort of thing before.

It seems Whitten kept the staff on to begin with, then the dismissals were piecemeal.

It is likely that a major corporation, and I believe Japanese businessmen are the most ruthless, would have laid everyone off, maybe closing down for a month or so not only for renovations, but for the town to get used to the idea of locals hitting the streets. Then after taking general applications for hire, including from former employees, they would have reopened with all new staff, probably a significant majority of the new employees would be from out of town, and the new employees would likely be, legal or not, half priced, pliant labor from south of the border.

And, there wouldn't have been a peep from the media.


ultima said...

Let's agree on this much: the busniess owner handled this situation poorly but perhaps he was following a philosophy that had served him well in previous endeavors and we have to remember he is a Marine -- once a Marine always a Marine! I think he could have achieve his primary goal by saying, "When you are in my presence, please speak English. It is discourteous to me and to our guests if you speak another language that I or they cannot understand. Spanish is melifluous language and I know it is the native tongue of many of you but is it too much to ask to grant me and our guests this basic courtesy? Although our guests will generally be more familiar with the English version of your names, you may choose to use whatever name you want on your name tags. However, I do remind you that your jobs here depend on my success in turning around this business and every little thing you can contribute to that end will improve our chances for success."

Dee said...

Granted. If Whitten had treated his employees or the community respectfully we would not be reading about his problems today.

The facts are, he did not, neither for his employees or the community. That is too bad. And now he is facing the consequences.

I particularly disagree with the demand for them to change their names.

You know the old saying you get more with sugar than with vinegar? I agree. If he had treated his employee with respect and explained why he requested changes, then they probably would have abided by his decisions.


ultima said...

As usual, Dee has distorted the meaning of Official English. Howeverm she is quite right in writing that one of the outcomes of Official English would be that ballots, publications, proceedings, and government services of all kinds would be offered only in English rather than a number of different languages. She overlooks that in critical or emergency service areas, public interpreters like public defenders would be available to those who cannot afford one. Those who can afford this service would be billed. Interpreters should not be a governmental responsibility for the latter. Our citizenship laws should also be changed to require true fluency in writing, speaking and reading English before citizenship can be awarded. This should not be a problem for those who are here legally since their principal concerns are a worry about possible deportation and the ability to be legally employed. Although many of them may not be able to meet this standard, their children will and in the meantime the parents should will be able to enjoy most of the benefits of citizenship or permanent residency except voting eligibility.

It's a total farce to limit the citizenship English requirement to a few rote-learned words. Until a person can read and understand a ballot in English, they have no business voting.

Official English deals only with government not with private business. Private business should do whatever it determines to be in its best interest. Home Depot has determined that costly bi-lingual signage is one such business practice. Others use the phone system of press 2 for Spanish, etc. Although those who feel strongly about the English language as the glue that holds our society together may find this unfortunate, they accept that this is the privilege of private business in a free market economy.

Dee also misrepresents the current status of English in America; it is not our national, common, or official language by any official act of Congress. Some attempts were made to accomplish one or more of these changes in status in the failed CIR bills but none were successful. I am ashamed to say that the current Secretary of the Interior and a former Senator from Colorado was one of those who managed to scuttle or waterdown that effort.

Dee's fears are unfounded and a red herring designed to distract us from the point that our nation is teetering on a wasteful and disunifying bi-lingualism that pre-sages Mexico Norte.

Dee said...

At least you partially admit the truth. You admit that aAll I said about restricting publications of any documents in Spanish, banning interpretors, doing all you can do to support spanish assistance during voting will come to a complete halt if this restrictionist bill is passed. And any other language, but you don't really care about that.

It is clear. You ANTIs are truly AFRAID of the Spanish Language and will do ALL YOU CAN to STOMP IT OUT!!

JS said...

Official English wouldn't stomp out Spanish or any other language being spoken in this country and you know that. So why make up stories that aren't true? It is exactly as Ultima has explained to you. On the federal level we wouldn't have to print documents in other languages (not just Spanish) which would be a cost saving measure to us. It would also encourage English proficiency. As he also explained there will be other ways for a non-proficient in English person to still be able to fill out documents in English. Your arguments have just had many holes blown in them. But then again as Ultima said your real agenda is something entirely different than what you are claiming. He can see through that and so can I.

Dee said...

Ultima has some logic. That is why I have allowed him to post on my blog since its inception. Few ANTIs are of his caliber. Very few.

Even so.
As even Ultima admits.
Making English the Official Language has one purpose: to target Spanish. To STOP Spanish from being published in ANY government documents. It is especially being pushed to STOP supporting any support for Spanish speaking voters, via ballots, documentation or via interpretors.

Plain and Simple.

Additionally, many people like Whitten and others, misinterpret the Offical Language bill to STOP people from even considering speaking spanish in ANY environment. That is why I referenced this article. Because Whitten believed it was his right to restrict his workers from speaking spanish and to force them to change their names.

He was wrong.
He was racial profiling.

Very Sad!!

And sadder yet, even though I have been saying these SAME statements over and over and over again, YOU still DO NOT get it!!

Anonymous said...

The articles didn't say anything about English fluency of the employees, and it is implied in the articles that the employees did speak English. Otherwise Whitten would have been beating a dead horse by requiring continuing employees to speak English, and the man is smart enough to know this.

Perhaps otherwise there would have been some job advertisements for "Bi-lingual" jobs at his motel.

After all, in southern California most of the jobs seem to be going to "bilingual only need apply", which effectively bars English speakers from employment.

By the flip side scenario, that's discriminatory.

To be fair, shouldn't it work the other way as well? Not everyone in Taos speaks Spanish by any means, and most tourists don't speak Spanish. Shouldn't Witten's employees be able to speak English in order to deal with English speaking customers?

Europeans and Asians quite often learn English, because English is the language of international commerce.

I found it unusual that in Death Valley, the signs for foreign language tourists are in German, Italian, and I believe Japanese.

Noticing this, I pointed it out to Elena, and she responded, "Mexicans don't go to Death Valley. They go to the park on Sunday."

And, they probably don't stay in Witten's motel, overnight or otherwise.

Should customers be required to speak Spanish in order to stay at The Paragon, just because Whitten's employees don't want to speak English in America?


Dee said...

The article said Whitten prevented workers from speaking spanish.

It didn't say he asked them to answer the phones in english. he demanded they stop speaking spanish period. on break. in his presence. etc.

a very insecure man. he was afraid they might be talking about him.

Anonymous said...

It happens.

I went on a job a few years ago which was comprised mostly of illegals.

They thought, in my own country, that I was there to take one of "their" jobs.

So, they kissed my a** in English and talked about running me off in Spanish.

Turns out, they wouldn't have been working if I wasn't there, and I got along with them after they realized that fact. Shared my lunch like they did and gave them chiles grown at my house almost every day, from which they made salsa and brought back to work.

Just before I left the job, the ones I was working with put on a Carne Asada feast after work, they piled my plate up. However the ones there who didn't know me had a look on their face they had a dog turd smeared into their mustaches when they saw me, did their best to pretend they didn't see me. The attitude was "what's this pinche guero doing here?"

Racism and prejudice is an equal opportunity disease, and in my case the prejudice was from the mojado, not the guero.

That's not the only experience I've had with that sort of scenario.

I see Mexicans on a regular basis who try to work Americans around to speaking Spanish, such as teaching the words for tools and such, when the Mexican is nearly fluent in English. And, unless it's absolutely necessary, I don't oblige them.

Getting to the the split: I have noticed often that if I use a Spanish pronounciation for an item around some Mexican Americans (usually someone I don't know), the attitude is that I don't have a right to be talking like that. On the other hand, the Mexican might wish I wasn't there, but he tends to like the effort.


Dee said...

Interesting story. Maybe you should write a blog and share all of your experiences in the contruction field and share your thoughts about the mexican americans you meet and the mexicans you meet. you can talk about your mexican girlfriend.
It would be an interesting blog.

One thing to note:
your experiences and opinions are yours.

All people are not alike. all mexican americans are not alike. all mexicans are not alike.

All workers in construction are not like businessmen in cubicles are not like farmers are not like fishermen are not like factory workers are not like fashion designers are not like car dealers are not like cowboys, and on and on. All different cultures all different ethnicities who form one overall american culture -- a melting pot/salad bowl!

Dee said...

Interesting story. Maybe you should write a blog and share all of your experiences in the contruction field and share your thoughts about the mexican americans you meet and the mexicans you meet. you can talk about your mexican girlfriend.
It would be an interesting blog.

One thing to note:
your experiences and opinions are yours.

All people are not alike. all mexican americans are not alike. all mexicans are not alike.

All workers in construction are not like businessmen in cubicles are not like farmers are not like fishermen are not like factory workers are not like fashion designers are not like car dealers are not like cowboys, and on and on. All different cultures all different ethnicities who form one overall american culture -- a melting pot/salad bowl!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of opinions and experiences, we come to the media.

I have read in print and seen on TV coverage of events which I was a part of, and the media account was different than what in fact occurred.

It doesn't matter what the political bias of the correspondent is, we have little objective journalism left, it's now mostly opinion masquerading as journalistic fact, politically correct or not.

So, what really happened between Whitten and his employees? What bias did the reporters bring into the story?

Nearly all versions of the story relate the bit about the names and being forbidden to speak Spanish in Whitten's presence, and the quote that the employees "knew what to expect" before they had time to honestly evaluate Whitten, probably before he started the name nonsense and language requirement.

However, I believe just one version quoted Whitten as saying that the employees were hostile from the beginning.

Did the employees have a prejudicial chip on the shoulder which Whitten managed to knock off? Was the name and language thing a response to first contact hostility by the employees?

As all people do, Whitten certainly has faults. However, one reason for Whitten, as an employer, to learn Spanish is that it would have been far better to pretend he didn't understand their speech and let them rattle on in Spanish, then he would have known exactly where they stood beyond the hostility he perceived, and how to deal with it.

Or, he could have been pre-emptively ruthless, carefully and quietly hiring a new batch of employees with no roots to the community to be trained as to how he wanted things done in his motel, and as first course of business fired all the employees he inherited.

And probably, the media would never have covered it - that stuff goes on every day.

As far as the "melting pot / salad bowl" analogy goes, you can only have one or the other. The melting pot, with the heat necessary to mix and meld burns the salad with the salad bowl.

There are changes I've experienced myself.

However, there are far too many people who believe that instead of the American melting pot, we need a bait and switch "citizen of the world" "salad bowl" which ultimately contains only one exclusionary ingredient.

No way, Jose.


JS said...

Uh, you are confusing your posters. I have no Mexican girlfriend and I don't work construction. That is ilbegone/anon.

Why didn't you post my last remarks? Whitten never said that the workers couldn't speak Spanish on their breaks so why did you say that?

ultima said...

Dee wrote, "At least you partially admit the truth. You admit that all I said about restricting publications of any (government)documents in (other languages), (relieving government of the cost of providing free interpreters for those who can afford their own), (making it clear that voting is reserved for those who have demonstrated their command of English before they are awarded citizenship)would be the law of the land if an Official English bill is passed. This indeed might fall most heavily on Hispanics because almost all other immigrants make learning English their highest priority. Hispanics not so much and not so willingly. Nevertheless, the bill would be intended to treat all equally and therefore there is no need to try to put an ethnocentric spin on it. The issue is easily resolved by Hispanics taking the same interest in learning English and supporting it as the offcial language of the United States as other ethnic groups.

It is natural to want to avoid the trouble of learning another language but it is a small price to pay to live in this great country and to do one's part in keeping it strong and unified.

There certainly are people in Europe who speak several languages but most don't. Only those who have to do business in other countries. A couple of my Danish cousins, college-educated, were fluent in French and German. But if you walk down the street in most German towns except those near American bases, you will find many who cannot communicate well in English or other foreign languages. As a traveler you have to be able to at least order a meal and get a room. Getting directions is a little harder.

Dee said...

Ultima, I'm glad you admit these laws are targetting latinos to stop speaking spanish. that's the bottom line.

Why they want to outlaw spanish is beyond me. in this global economy, we should be embracing bi-lingualism, not abolishing it.

Latinos are NOT going to let Republicans go un-noticed by their refusal to sign this:
"For the past week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office has been looking for a Republican co-sponsor for an utterly non-controversial resolution honoring the legacy and role of Hispanic media.

None came, his office confirms. On Tuesday, Reid introduced and passed a resolution designating October 25 through October 31, 2009, the "National Hispanic Media Week" in honor of the Latino Media of America. The Nevada Democrat was joined by Sens. Robert Menendez (New Jersey), Mark Udall (Colorado) and Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) -- all of whom are Democrats.

The resolution was your typical no-thrills, superficial fare that often takes up Senate business. Just last month, for instance, North Carolina's Republican and Democratic senators (Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, respectively) introduced a resolution congratulating "the High Point Furniture Market on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary as a leader in home furnishing" (a thrilling legislative breakthrough).

Read more at:

Anonymous said...

He has the right to free speech like every Mexican who crosses the border. It is an unarmed invasion of Mexicans and the numbers are rising in California. California is already Mexico and it is a must to speak Spanish to get a job. California is Calimexico.

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