There is no denying the prevalence of racism and bigotry in the United States, and the recent months have seen an explosion of such behavior on the public scale. In the wake of President-elect Trump winning the election, many who support him feel that they no longer need to hide their apparently inherent negative attitudes towards people who are different. There has been a marked spike in hate crimes and other racist behaviors, and groups that were once silent regarding their prejudice have started to make their opinions public. The scary part of the situation is that these opinions aren’t always immediately shot down.
One of the most obvious ways that racism has resurfaced with a vengeance is through direct conflicts between individual racists and the people they target. These are usually people who are either wearing clothing that doesn’t appear ‘American’, or they are speaking a language other than English while in public. The worst cases involve racists jumping to conclusions based solely on skin color, but these are all excellent examples of the negativity still rampant in society.
Most well-adjusted people have no problem with immigrants speaking another language around them in public, but there are racists and bigots out there who can not stand to hear anything other than English spoken around them. It’s hard to understand why these people would care about the private communication between other people, even if it occurs in public. There are few explanations that make sense beyond a selfish desire to understand what is being said, as if these racists are afraid people are talking about them directly in front of them, which is ludicrous. And even if it were true, those people have every right to speak any language they want.
One such event recently occurred in a grocery store in Los Angeles. A Greek man by the name of Thanasi Papoulias was speaking with his wife, Sophia Antonopoulos-Papoulias in the checkout line, and they were speaking in Greek, which is their native language. The couple was also completely fluent in English, but they often spoke directly to each other in their native tongue.
For reasons that escape the rational mind, a nearby customer felt that these strangers speaking in another language was unacceptable. She interrupted their conversation and told them that they should ‘speak f***ing English’ since ‘this is America’. The woman continued to berate the Greek couple despite the fact that they were doing nothing to bother her whatsoever.
At first, the couple was simply bemused that anything like that could actually be real. However, when Thanasi realized the woman was being serious, he got out his smartphone and started to record the incident. He only captured a few moments of the woman’s rant before the store manager approached to diffuse the situation. The manager immediately banned the woman from the store for making a scene, and he apologized profusely to the Greek couple.
Thanasi later uploaded the short video clip to Facebook, and he included a brief explanation in the comments. Ironically enough, Thanasi is very clearly completely fluent in English, and it would follow that he is actually far more intelligent than the woman who berated him and his wife in the store. It is unlikely that someone who so ardently defends English against perceived threats has the ability to speak any other language.
The Greek man even wrote a short blog post about his experience, and he wrote it in English so it would be accessible to other racists who need to read those sort of stories the most. He discusses how such hatred should be in the past by now, and he posits what might have happened if the profane and rude woman had encountered him and his wife while they were with their children.