Coming to America, or Becoming an American?

By | May 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

Pledge of Allegiance?

Father is jailed for strangling his 16-year-old daughter to death because she refused to wear a head scarf to high school. There was prior physical abuse. The victim’s 26-year-old brother is jailed for obstructing the investigation. The words “Muslim” and “Pakistani immigrant” are absent from most news stories, which refer only to “cultural differences.” News report

Father is convicted of mutilating his two-year-old daughter’s genitalia with scissors. Such mutilation is common in some Muslim nations, for the purpose of reducing females’ sexual desire. The World Health Organization estimates that 200 million women and girls living today have undergone genital mutilation. News report

The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate   intensity. − William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming

Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil. − Thomas Mann

The tragic story of the girl and the head scarf is regrettably typical of many news reports regarding “honor killings” – fathers murdering their daughters, or brothers murdering their sisters, for not marrying the “right” man, for going out with the “wrong” man, or for wearing the “wrong” clothes. Oppression of women in some parts of the Muslim world is a serious problem. Revealingly, the problem often is ignored by feminists and leftists.

But there is another problem here. I refer to immigrants from many lands and many cultures. Some of them come to Western nations to live and make money, but not to become part of the new culture – or in some cases, not even to obey the most basic laws. I speak from an American perspective, but similar remarks could be made by someone in Canada, Great Britain, France, or other European nations.

In times past, the great majority of immigrants, including my family on both sides, came to escape poverty, the class system, or religious or ethnic persecution. They came to enjoy freedom. They came to give their children an education. They came to throw off the shackles of their former home and find a new home. True, the first generation clung to their old ways. They often spoke their native language at home and socialized with people with similar backgrounds.

But at the same time, immigrants made great efforts to learn their new language and to adopt new customs. And the new nation, especially the schools, made great efforts to integrate immigrants into the new culture and nationality. We used the term “Americanize” − now obsolete − but the same principle applied in other Western nations. Immigrants came to join a new nation, and the new nation helped them do so.

Things have changed. Many immigrants still come to make a new home, but some do not. They come to make money and enjoy greater opportunity, but not to become part of their new nation and culture. They come, in effect, dragging their old home with them, with all its dismal features – including oppression or even brutalization of women, and harsh upbringing or even abuse of children. In some cases, this includes genital mutilation of girls, or murder of rebellious daughters or sisters.

Equally bad, their new nations, especially the schools, make few efforts to integrate the new arrivals. On the contrary, “multiculturalism” teaches that their old cultures should be honored – which may or may not be justified – and at the same time, that our culture should be presented in a negative light. Thus we do not pay schools extra money for each immigrant child who becomes proficient in English. No, we pay schools extra money for each child who does not become proficient in English. So schools are motivated to keep students in bilingual classes through the senior year of high school.

If we had set out to keep the children of immigrants poorly educated and suitable only for low-paying jobs, we could not have done a more effective job.

In this way, we combine the worst of both worlds – many immigrants want us to adapt to them, and schools and public officials are only too willing to comply. If there is a more lethal means of committing national and cultural suicide, I have yet to hear of it.

But this raises deeper questions: Why do some immigrants come here to enjoy our prosperity and greater opportunity, yet fail to adopt the traits that make the prosperity and greater opportunity possible? Why would they expect their new home to remain prosperous and free, when they are doing their best to make it resemble their old homes – which were poor and unfree?

I am not referring only to extremist Muslims. I am also referring to well-meaning immigrants from Mexico and Central America, who – for whatever reasons – allow their communities to be taken over by drug-dealing, violent gangs and corrupt politicians who resemble those that oppressed them in their former homes. On the other hand, many Latino immigrants, and their children, serve in our armed forces – just check the names on the casualty lists. The contrast could not be more striking. It may be that the future of America depends on which type of Latino immigrant predominates.

I am also referring to immigrants from the former Soviet Union and its various components, who allow their communities to be taken over by violent gangs and corrupt politicians resembling those in their former homes. And I am referring to Asian immigrants who may have similar problems.

Why is this happening? I believe that leftist ideology is largely to blame. Immigrants, especially those from Mexico, are taught that we “stole the land.” Why the descendants of Aztecs and Mayans belong in the United States any more than the descendants of Irish or Chinese is not explained – they are all newcomers. The idea seems to be that Europeans seized a wealthy, populous nation and stole its riches.

This leftist fable is terribly destructive. In fact, the vast majority of European immigrants came here poor in money but rich in hope. They plowed land that had never felt a plow. The Great Plains were largely empty of people and covered only by sparse grasses. Immigrants planted many of the trees there, which in some Midwest states still grow in straight rows.

Immigrants built the wealth with their sweat, and sometimes their blood. They didn’t steal it – they made it. True, what happened to American Indians was tragic. Yet their descendants live in a much richer, much freer country than if the Europeans had stayed home. The Stone Age was not conducive to a long or happy life.

But if the leftist fable is believed, then we current citizens are not seen as lucky, clever people to be imitated, but merely as thieves to be looked down upon – and our loot taken away at the first opportunity. Why should immigrants try to become like us, when we describe ourselves and our culture in such negative terms?

The late Howard Zinn, author of a widely used textbook of American history, went so far as to claim that America has done more bad than good in the world. (I heard him say it.) Europe under the Nazis? Asia under the Japanese militarists? Over half of the recent Nobel Prize advances in medicine not made? To him, anything would be better than a vibrant, strong America. Why would anyone want to become a member of such an evil, destructive people? Why would anyone want to adopt such inferior values?

On Flag Day, one school had the children march with flags of the nations their ancestors came from, not the American flag. Other schools observe Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo, but not Washington’s or Lincoln’s Birthdays. Rather than trying to Americanize the children of immigrants, we are now trying to de-Americanize our own children. But what if we succeed?

So there you have it: Immigrants who drag their primitive, backward customs along with them, met by people who have lost confidence in themselves and their own culture. Who murdered the girl who refused to wear the head scarf to high school? Her brutal, tyrannical, medieval father actually strangled her. But by our lack of self-confidence and our cowardly desire for “multiculturalism,” we were accomplices.

Coming to America requires moving one’s body. That’s the immigrants’ problem. But becoming an American requires moving one’s mind and heart. It requires learning new values and loyalties, and we have nearly stopped teaching them. That’s our problem.

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