City Paper, written in Spanish, jabs at English as official language proposal
It's time to brush up on that high school Spanish, at least if you're reading City Paper this week.
The alternative newsweekly's Oct. 26 edition has been renamed "ElSemanal De Pittsburgh" and is jam-packed with articles about Pittsburgh's Hispanic growing population. On page 11, there's even an article about the proposal of state Rep. RoseMarie Swanger, R-Lebanon, to make English the state's "official" language.
Except it's written in Spanish.
Weary of the "latest burst of anti-immigration bills in Harrisburg," City Paper editor Chris Potter decided he'd publish the special Spanish edition as a kind of reality check.
"These English-as-official-language proposals keep coming up, and they're just a form of linguistic bullying, talking about a group of people who live here but are not really part of the public debate. It just seemed unfair."
City Paper's cover cartoon is by Ed Piskor, with a "Day of the Dead" scarecrow in a sombrero astride a skeleton in a business suit looking unhappily at a folder labled "ENGLISH FIRST!"
"It's your own nightmare vision" of a City Paper in Spanish, Mr. Potter said, "to raise a voice in protests to that kind of attitude and show the ways in which Latinos in Western Pennsylvania contribute to the community, in the arts, restaurants, and music."
Besides stories on Latino restaurants, music and culture, the free weekly has a piece on Mexico, Pa., a tiny town in Juniata County, which has experienced an influx of Spanish residents, plus an editorial by Mr. Potter blasting "the endless campaign against 'illegal immigration.' "
As for the story -- in Spanish -- about Ms. Swanger's "English First" bill, "We were having a little fun because this discussion always takes place in English," he said, noting that English translation is available online.
"It's nice to do a print version in Spanish first and then make readers go to their computers if they want to read the story in English, because it's usually the other way around. You have these conversations about Spanish-speaking residents, about what services should be available to them, and so forth, written in a language unfamiliar to them," he added.
Moreover, "the conversation about immigration is always about what it costs, in jobs, and tax revenue, even though all kinds studies are out there to suggest immigrants of all kinds pay sales taxes if nothing else.
"We never talk about in terms of the benefits they bring us."
This week in ElSemanal De Pittsburgh, however, they do.
First Published October 28, 2011 12:00 am