Today’s news:

Korean merchants in Flushing must find funds for English signs

Regarding the May 5 TimesLedger Newspapers article “Signage fix eludes leaders,” isn’t it time we stopped kidding about “poor merchants” who “cannot afford” to change their signs to conform with the state law passed in the early 1900s, which says that all signs must be prominently in English?

If I did not know enough Koreans well enough to be invited to their homes and call them friends, I might, as too many other Americans do, think of Koreans as being all the same as the worst of them. To those Americans, all Jews are Shylocks, all Italians are Mafia and all Muslims are Osama bin Laden. For many, if not most of us, our forebears were reviled when they came to this country with ethnic slurs.

It is neither nationality nor religion which is involved in your article. It is human traits which can be universally condemned: lack of consideration, selfishness, demands for “rights” without responsibilities.

America provides much for those who choose to come here from abroad. Our country has always assumed, as shown by its actions, that those who come here will either become citizens and do their part or go back to their own country if they see that this is not what they thought it was. Everyone gets the use of free public libraries with books in their native languages, free English lessons provided by volunteers, public schools, low-cost public housing subsidized by American taxpayers and hospital emergency rooms. All groups have their own associations, which can help them adjust.

To ask for special privileges beyond those given to all, at taxpayer expense, is chutzpah — to use a Yiddish word now adopted by the English language — or as we used to say, “The gall of a brass monkey” or, “Some nerve!”

The Korean businessmen who have conspicuous Korean signs with little or no English have known for a long time that they are breaking the state law passed in the early 1900s. If they put aside $1 a day, by the end of a year they would have $365 which could go toward changing the sign. If they have enough money to pay a landlord more money than a local flourishing store which serves the community, surely they have enough to afford a sign in English with subordinate Korean.

Instead, they go in and out of business with stupefying swiftness and regularity, only to be replaced by other Korean stores that repeat the same experience. What had always been a stable commercial and residential area working together has been destabilized by so many who have chosen to remain foreigners in their chosen land.

I invite anyone interested in checking out the situation to come once a month to Northern Boulevard from around 155th to 162nd streets and look at both sides of the street to see that it is unrecognizable from one month to another. Why? These stores mostly have no parking and do not serve the community — a violation of both the zoning resolution and the state law on signage.

To propose, especially in these days of devastating budget cuts in education and other essential services, that our legislators be given money to help the poor Korean businessmen to stop breaking the law is almost unbelievable.

Marjorie Ferrigno


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