How Not to Use an Interpreter, by G.W. Bush

Yeah, I’m not his biggest fan, to say the least. But man…something I heard this morning on NPR out of Dubya’s own mouth pushed a button that I am not afraid to admit I have. The following is a quote from the site linked in the title above, and it’s what I heard Dubya say (to his Italian interpreter) this morning on NPR:

And two, what kind of signal does it send throughout the world if it’s okay for a British company to manage the ports, but not a company that has been secure — been cleared for security purposes from the Arab world? So I look forward to a good, consistent review. You don’t need to interpret. That’s a U.S. question.

Now then, kids, why do we need an interpreter? Because two people trying to communicate don’t speak the same language. How often do I, as an interpreter hear that very same thing, “Don’t interpret that” or “You don’t have to interpret that?” Too often. What’s wrong with that? It’s arrogant, that’s what. You are seen as taking advantage of the fact that the other person doesn’t speak your language and using that fact to convey something you don’t want them to know. You’re telling the person that you don’t value them enough to make sure they can understand what you’re saying. In a press conference setting it isn’t seen as much as a personal affront as it might have been had he said it during a normal conversation with Mr. Berlusconi, but it just proves to me that Mr. Bush doesn’t really care as much about his fellow man as he says he does, something I kinda already knew.

For Dubya to tell the interpreter she didn’t need to interpret and then continue to talk…well, as I’ve said before, I don’t have to say anything to make our dear American President look bad…he does it so well on his own that he doesn’t need my help.

Take this as a teachable moment, all of you who might use an interpreter in the future. Never ever ever utter those words to any interpreter worth their moral weight, and if you don’t want the other person to know what you’re saying either shut the (bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep) up or leave the room. Simple as that.

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