Thursday, February 28, 2013

Split Decision Week 2 - Who won?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Split Decision: Should immigrants be made to speak English?

Welcome to Split Decision!

In this weekly feature, found first in the print edition of The Trentonian every Wednesday, our two heavyweight columnists, L.A. Parker and Jeff Edelstein will square off against one another, with dueling columns on the same topic.

In the lead-up to each Split Decision, our writers agree on a topic then head off to their respective corners to pen their pieces. Then, each Wednesday, you'll get two unique takes on the same subject.

In this second round of Split Decision, L.A. and Jeff take opposing positions on the question of whether immigrants to the United States should be made to learn and speak English. Check out L.A.'s take on the subject here, and Jeff's here, and decide which column you agree with more.

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L.A. Parker: We all need to speak the same language

Almost 15 years ago, a girlfriend and I visited Paris for 10 days.

We stayed in a Princeton artist’s apartment situated in a section known as “Rive Gauche” — or “Left Bank”.

The area had previously welcomed Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jean Paul-Sartre and Henri Matisse, dynamic contributors to arts, literature and philosophy.

Anyway, this American in Paris could hardly speak a word of French while the eventual ex-girlfriend had mastered the language of romance.

My French speaking resembled Pepe Le Pew, while hers sizzled like the radioactivity of Poland-born but Paris-educated Madame Marie Curie.

Franc-ly, I could not buy a baguette without fumbling over myself. She, on the other hand, whisked us without a hitch from café to Montmartre.

In other words, understanding a country’s primary language made for easy transition.

Immigrants, especially from Spanish speaking countries, should understand that by learning English, they can get from here to there, or de aqui para alla, with fewer challenges.

I got all excited about making blueberry pancakes yesterday morning until noticing that there were instructions written in both English and Spanish on the Aunt Jemima box. This is getting worse than Christmas creep.

My welcome mat has been rolled out for all immigrants whether they originate from Poland, Ecuador, Russia, Liberia, Costa Rica, etc.

This is not a request to relinquish their history, customs, food, music, not even their native language but the “King’s English” is essentially, well, king.

Usually, second generations lose touch with their native language but there is encouragement here for every immigrant to remain connected to their country’s language. Never lose touch with those historical components that establish your diversity in these United States.

In less than a year, approximately 11 million predominantly Spanish-speaking immigrants along with a significant number of Europeans will be offered a pathway toward citizenship.

Immigration will change the face of America. But even the influx of millions will not alter our need to speak one common language.

Immigration must lead to assimilation.

Don’t give me that “in time things will change” argument. Current immigration events arrive supremely different than when immigrants landed on Ellis Island.

Technology allows our current immigrant population to listen to radio, television, text, and read newspapers in their home country’s language.

By the way, this might be a good time for American-born citizens to learn English, plus, a second language.

We continue to drown in a vocabulary laced with “dis,” “dat” and “duh.”

If I hear one more person say “axe” instead of “ask”, you may hear a request for their deportation.

Finally, forget all the prompts about hearing or understanding this response in another language.

You don’t get to press “1” for Spanish. Or, “2” for Polish. None of that.

If you need a translation — English 101 awaits.

— L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist. Reach him at


Jeff Edelstein: Language should not be a barrier

Listen: Unless you’re name is John Wandering Wolf Who Fishes in Clear Stream or something, you’ve got a pretty flimsy leg to stand on when it comes to all manner of discussion when it comes to immigration.

I mean really: How did you get here? Someone in your family immigrated here. (Big and obvious exception: Unless your relatives came over by force in the slave trade. Subject for another day.)

But if someone in your family came to America by choice, there’s a pretty good chance that person didn’t speak English when they arrived on our shores.

While I don’t know for sure, I’m pretty positive three of my four grandparents didn’t speak the language when they arrived, and I’m almost certain none of their parents — my great-grandparents — spokeuh da English when they came to America.

But they learned. You kind of have to if you want to “make it” in America.

And isn’t that why anyone comes to this country? To make it?

From the 1600’s to Ellis Island to today, America offers opportunity out the wazoo. So much opportunity, people were — are — risking death to come here.

(Slightly off-topic: I don’t understand people who hate the idea of immigrants sneaking into America. I mean, these are people willing to belly crawl through a desert for days on end to get here and work and make a better life for themselves. Isn’t that what we want in America? Hard working people who want to make a better life?)

To make “speaking English” a mandatory hurdle prior to immigrating to America — or for just living in America — just doesn’t make sense. Once here, believe me, immigrants want to learn how to speak the language. And the best way to learn any language is to simply be immersed in it.

Besides, this argument may be past-due anyway. Google Translate, anyone?
No such thing as not being able to speak the language as long as you’ve got a wifi connection.

Read Jeff Edelstein every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at, and


Monday, February 25, 2013

And the winner is...Jeff Edelstein!

The winner of our first ever Split Decision match-up, as decided by our readers, is Jeff Edelstein!

Our new Split Decision feature pits Jeff against L.A. Parker in a columnist duel every Wednesday.
This week, both writers penned columns about people using their cell phones in public, and a vote was held, asking readers which they preferred.
Stay tuned for more from Split Decision, including more columns, more polls and more ways for you to get involved.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Miss Split Decision's debut? No problem, we're here for you

If you missed this Wednesday's debut of Split Decision, where Jeff Edelstein and L.A. Parker square off in a columnists duel, have no fear, you can check it out here anytime on our Split Decision blog.

Check out Jeff's take on cell phone use in public here, and see L.A.'s take on the subject over here.

We're also running a poll to see which columnist you favored this week here.

Be sure to check in next week as well, as we bring you even more Split Decision coverage.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Split Decision on cell phones: Who won?


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Split Decision: L.A. Parker Vs. Jeff Edelstein, round 1

Welcome to Split Decision!

In this weekly feature, found first in the print edition of The Trentonian every Wednesday, our two heavyweight columnists, L.A. Parker and Jeff Edelstein will square off against one another, with dueling columns on the same topic.

In the lead-up to each Tuesday, our writer agree on a topic then head off to their respective corners to pen their pieces. Then, each Wednesday, you'll get two unique takes on the same subject.

In our first take on this new feature, the guys settle on the topic of cell phone use in public.

In L.A.'s piece, he recounts an episode of public phone sex he overheard in a grocery store, while Jeff explains why no one should be allowed to use their phones in public...except him.

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Parker doesn’t mind the chatter, just keep it clean


OK, this is it, a clash of the titanics, I mean titans, involving me, L.A. “The Truth” Parker and Jeff “Kid” Edelstein.

The guy in the other corner could not come up with a good enough handle, so, for now, it’s “Kid” but hopefully that will change by next week.

Furthermore, I agreed to this weekly showdown hoping that my esteemed opponent might exchange ideas about serious topics, stuff like Gov. Christie’s weight, President Obama’s immigration plan, should the government pay individuals to be fixed before they bring more kids into the world that they will not care for? And so on.

This week, in a first-round meeting, Edelstein and I get to discuss cell phone use in public places.

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Edelstein likes his phone, but not yours


I’m not entirely sure what I used to do when I waited in a line.

There I’d be, at Target, buying the essentials — underwear, milk, baseball cards — and I’d just ... wait in line.

When it was time to move up in line, I’d take a step forward. I was probably drooling while this was going on.

But today? I don’t mind lines. I’ll sometimes find the longest line out there, at Target, or Wal-Mart, or anywhere. Give me your worst, Motor Vehicle Commission — I can handle it.

Why don’t I care about lines? Because while I may not be happy to see you, yes, as a matter of fact, that is the entire output of human knowledge in my pocket.

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