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A Wish for Mutual Respect

March 27, 1986

I am writing to express my concern about your ardent eagerness to offer prominent coverage to proponents of English language drives such as those proposed by Kevin Forbes and Frank Arcuri.

Let me begin by affirming my support for the primacy of English as our official language. However, I am offended by the attitudes, motives and approaches of the "English-only" proponents who, either having run or planning to run for seats in their respective cities, are obviously trying to create a controversial issue in order to generate steam to further subtle interests on their hidden political agendas.

Having followed your stories on the English language issue during the last 12 months, I feel that people like Arcuri and Forbes probably have little contact and knowledge of the Asian-Americans they alienate by using expressions that deliberately distinguish Asians from "Americans" and, by associating them with "ways of the old country." As a Chinese-American who loves America and what it stands for, and is also proud of his own cultural heritage, I feel I have been greatly insulted, as if I were hearing, "If you are an Oriental, you are not an American." I wish my respect for Mr. Forbes' and Mr. Arcuri's own ethnic heritage and cultural values were mutual.

I have faith that not all those who are sympathetic with the English language drives agree with the racial overtones. I feel the need to urge other Asian-Americans and businesses to be particularly sensitive in trying to find ways to alleviate the genuine feelings of monolingual residents who feel left out and excluded when another language is used in their communities. I also yearn to see interracial groups formed in communities to facilitate healthy dialogue to combat painfully divisive misunderstanding and conflict.

Stephen LiWEST COVINA

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