CHARLOTTE, NC. What is so difficult to understand about the concepts of immigration and assimilation in America today? Did common sense disappear late in the 20th century?
It took just 13 words written on the Statue of Liberty to define the American spirit and what our country represents:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
For the record, those words are on the Statue of Liberty, NOT a “Statute of Liberty.”
Immigration and assimilation = The American melting pot
Traditional historians routinely referred to the United States as a “melting pot” of nationalities. Residents of foreign countries long regarded America as a nation where hard work and perseverance provided the foundation of success for anyone who committed to these ideals.
So what happened?
There was no talk of walls during the 20th century, other than discussions about the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall or, to a lesser degree, Hadrian’s Wall, in our history classes.
The rules were simple. Enter the country. Respect American laws, assimilate into your town, city or neighborhood, and you were welcomed. How tough was that? How tough was assimilation, really, when compared to the rewards for doing so?
If you wanted to live within the rules and regulations of your own country, then you could stay there. Nobody said you had to give up your native language or change your beliefs to live in the United States. All that was required was to abide by the laws of our nation while you were in residence. You could always keep your culture, your language and traditions. But America works because it knows how to work. And assimilation of new immigrants was a major reason why.
Immigration and assimilation. It’s a simple and reasonable concept.
Is common sense passé today?
Technically, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis pointed out in 1915, that requirement meant that immigrants “must be brought into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations and cooperate with us for their attainment.”
Therefore, the American way meant something far greater than merely adopting the language of a new country. Rather it meant that non-natives would be required to live under the same laws as those who were born here. Is that so radical?
By the way, Brandeis was the son of Jewish immigrants.
Today however, such ideals have become the exception rather than the rule, especially in Muslim communities which have established sharia-based societies in many places in our homeland.
That’s not to say they have merely preserved their native culture. Instead it means they are living in our country under their own laws which govern their individual beliefs.
That’s just plain wrong!
Unwelcome tides of change engulf Motown and London
Dearborn, Michigan, for example – a close-in suburb of Detroit – could be moved to the Middle East today. Culturally, nearly everyone there would feel right at home. Oddly enough, it’s a guarantee that those who did not feel that way would be required to assimilate. To militant Islam, not the American way.
Across the Atlantic, author Mario Alexis Portella tells us that “in London alone there are at least one hundred sharia tribunals which parallel the established legal system by which Muslims are free to disavow any civil law or regulation they see fit in the privy sector.”
In the last third of the 20th century, less than five percent of the United States’ population was foreign-born. Much of the reason was due to legislation in the 1920s designed to dramatically reduce new arrivals from other nations. The idea was not about Americans wishing to deny foreigners access to our liberties and freedoms. Significantly, the intent was to maintain control over the size of immigrant communities.
The plan worked. Foreigners assimilated because they were unable to gain the strength in numbers from outside arrivals to impose their systems, religions and cultures on others.
The breakdown of a once-functional system
In recent times however, with changing attitudes and political correctness, enclaves of immigrant communities have increased in size, making their demands stronger, their voices louder and their presence less manageable.
No segment of society has been more outspoken and demanding in this country by refusing to assimilate than the Islamic community.
Mario Portella notes,
“Islam has proven remarkably resistant to the persistent attempts to relegate it to the private sphere.”
If that’s the bad news, the worse news is that this is about to become even more problematic before it gets better.
A better life. By whose definition?
To be sure, as we are constantly reminded by Islamic apologists, many Muslims are seeking a better quality of life than they had in their native land. That said however, does not mean that a small percentage of a very large number can still become overwhelming when attempting to provide security and protection for Americans.
Many Muslims are motivated by the 7th century “Hijra Doctrine” which Muhammad used to migrate from Medina to Mecca in 622. The basic tenet of the belief is a duty to leave their homes for the purpose of spreading their faith. Regrettably, in our contemporary society, we do little to fight back against this still-ongoing movement.
Those who do express concerns find themselves lumped into a new category of Americans: “Islamophobes.”
Muslims may be paranoid, but they are not stupid. They know us better than we know ourselves because Americans telegraph what we are doing. We do it frequently, and we do it without even realizing it.
Thus, as political correctness grows, so do non-conformist Islamic ideas increase exponentially. This provides justification for their frequently radical and intolerant positions. That’s a far cry from the traditional American goal of assimilation.
A house divided…
As long as Western societies remain divided, Muslim communities will continue to gain in strength.
Keep on believing the immigration issue in the United States is all about a wall while we continue to mistake compassion for common sense and self-preservation.
If the trend continues it will come back to haunt us. Then we can all turn on our televisions one night and listen to the talking heads ask “how did this happen?”
— Headline image: The Statue of Liberty. Photo by “Veryhuman” – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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