At least 42,000 Hispanic people in Oklahoma City do not speak English well, according to research from the Pew Hispanic Center, a branch of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center in Washington.
There being roughly 100,000 Hispanic folks in this town well, the math is easy. But the results can be hard:
Nine of the 23 deaths in the May 31 disaster came from Oklahoma’s growing Guatemalan community, many unfamiliar with the fury of spring storms. Five of those were children, including a 17-day-old infant.
NewsOK posted a picture of a Guatemalan family killed in the storm to Facebook, and got several variations on the theme of “Well, it’s their own fault for not speaking English.” Which, actually, they did, though they were not exactly up on the latest local storm procedures. Still, that didn’t mollify the Defenders of the Language, one of whom declared:
[W]e should fine anyone who speaks another language. $50 every time you say something in another language. This is America, goddamnit, and we speak ENGLISH!
Clearly someone who does speak the local language has an advantage over someone who doesn’t; however, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for leaving seven percent of the population in the dark when the storm clouds build.