God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Monday, April 3, 2006

American Assimilation

Peggy Noonan has an excellent column today at Opinion Journal about the illegal immigration question. She raises a very good point. If we do not absorb and assimilate, make Americans of, the immigrants who are coming to our nation today, what hope to do we have to continue as a nation?
There are a variety of things driving American anxiety about illegal immigration and we all know them--economic arguments, the danger of porous borders in the age of terrorism, with anyone able to come in.

But there's another thing. And it's not fear about "them." It's anxiety about us.

It's the broad public knowledge, or intuition, in America, that we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don't do that, you'll lose it all.

We used to do it. We loved our country with full-throated love, we had no ambivalence. We had pride and appreciation. We were a free country. We communicated our pride and delight in this in a million ways--in our schools, our movies, our popular songs, our newspapers. It was just there, in the air. Immigrants breathed it in. That's how the last great wave of immigrants, the European wave of 1880-1920, was turned into a great wave of Americans.

We are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically now. We are assimilating them culturally. Within a generation their children speak Valley Girl on cell phones. "So I'm like 'no," and he's all 'yeah,' and I'm like, 'In your dreams.' " Whether their parents are from Trinidad, Bosnia, Lebanon or Chile, their children, once Americans, know the same music, the same references, watch the same shows. And to a degree and in a way it will hold them together. But not forever and not in a crunch.

So far we are assimilating our immigrants economically, too. They come here and work. Good.

But we are not communicating love of country. We are not giving them the great legend of our country. We are losing that great legend.

What is the legend, the myth? That God made this a special place. That they're joining something special. That the streets are paved with more than gold--they're paved with the greatest thoughts man ever had, the greatest decisions he ever made, about how to live. We have free thought, free speech, freedom of worship. Look at the literature of the Republic: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist papers. Look at the great rich history, the courage and sacrifice, the house-raisings, the stubbornness. The Puritans, the Indians, the City on a Hill.

The genius cluster--Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, Franklin, all the rest--that came along at the exact same moment to lead us. And then Washington, a great man in the greatest way, not in unearned gifts well used (i.e., a high IQ followed by high attainment) but in character, in moral nature effortfully developed. How did that happen? How did we get so lucky? (I once asked a great historian if he had thoughts on this, and he nodded. He said he had come to believe it was "providential.")

We fought a war to free slaves. We sent millions of white men to battle and destroyed a portion of our nation to free millions of black men. What kind of nation does this? We went to Europe, fought, died and won, and then taxed ourselves to save our enemies with the Marshall Plan. What kind of nation does this? Soviet communism stalked the world and we were the ones who steeled ourselves and taxed ourselves to stop it. Again: What kind of nation does this?

Only a very great one. Maybe the greatest of all.

Do we teach our immigrants that this is what they're joining? That this is the tradition they will now continue, and uphold?

Do we, today, act as if this is such a special place? No, not always, not even often. American exceptionalism is so yesterday. We don't want to be impolite. We don't want to offend. We don't want to seem narrow. In the age of globalism, honest patriotism seems like a faux pas.

And yet what is true of people is probably true of nations: if you don't have a well-grounded respect for yourself, you won't long sustain a well-grounded respect for others.


North Dallas Thirty 4/03/2006 04:56:00 PM  

Totally agree.

It's natural for immigrants to, at some level, want to recreate from whence they came. It isn't malicious, really, just comfortable.

The problem is when they want to recreate things with which their new location is incompatible.

BostonGayDad 4/04/2006 07:16:00 PM  

We have a proud past, but not a proud present.... Perhaps this is why today's immigrants are not "breathing it in", as Noonan puts it. There’s just not enough about America to be proud of today like there was at the time of European immigration.

Throughout American history, there are American politicians whose “hero” persona brought us great pride: Lincoln, FDR, and JFK for example. Who are our sources of pride in 21st century America? Instead of visionaries like JFK we have criminal and unethical politicians such as:

++Linda Chavez, nomination as Secretary of Labor derailed by past employment of illegal alien (2001)

++Enron collapse (2002) leading to investigation of Kenneth Lay, a top political ally and financial donor to the election campaign of President George W. Bush; Lay, who had been named as a leading candidate for Secretary of the Treasury, eventually indicted (2004). Attempts to link individual politicians with the Enron malfeasance have not been particularly successful, perhaps partly due to the fact that so many politicians of both major parties received campaign contributions (including 158 Republicans and 100 Democrats in Congress (as of 2001)

++Jim Traficant (D-OH) financial corruption conviction and expulsion from House (2002)

++Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) bribery scandal (2002)

++Trent Lott (R-MS) resigned as Senate majority leader amid racial controversy

++Bill Frist (R-TN), becomes Senate majority leader and is alleged to have been deeply involved in campaign finance improprieties. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating insider-trading issues in connection with Frist's July 2005 sale of Hospital Corporation of America shares immediately before the stock's value fell precipitously

++Yellowcake forgery. Evidence alleged to be forged was presented in the case for 2003 invasion of Iraq (2003); related Valerie Plame affair (2004), eventually implicating White House aides Scooter Libby (indicted 2005) and Karl Rove

++Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal (2004-2005)

++Tom DeLay (R-TX), reprimanded twice by House Ethics Committee and aides indicted (2004-2005); eventually DeLay himself was indicted (October 2005); DELAY RESIGNS FROM CONGRESS IN DISGRACE, FACING FUTURE INDICTMENTS, AND NEEDING HIS CAMPAIGN WAR-CHEST FOR HIS CRIMINAL DEFENSE (April 4, 2006)

++Bernard Kerik, nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security derailed by past employment of illegal alien as nanny, and amid allegations of various other ethical improprieties (2004)

++Former Clinton administration National Security Advisor Sandy Berger pleads guilty (2005) to unlawfully removing classified documents from the National Archives in October 2003

++Bush administration payment of columnists including Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus (2004-2005)

++Downing Street Memo minutes of U.K. government secret meeting (dated 23 July 2002, leaked 2005) include summary of MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove's report that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy."

++Duke Cunningham (R-CA) resigned from the House of Representatives and pleaded guilty on November 28, 2005 to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004. Prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes

++Jack Abramoff, Republican lobbyist and key figure in Tom DeLay scandal, is indicted on wire fraud charges (August 2005). Representative Robert Ney (R-OH) is named as "Representative No. 1" in the indictment of Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon. Other members of Congress associated with Abramoff include Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), James Clyburn (D-SC), and Bennie Thompson (D-MS).
Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling Scandal A separate grand jury investigation involving Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist

There is a common thread running through almost all of these scandals. Here's a hint: "(R)"

Kevin 4/04/2006 08:07:00 PM  

Oh yes Boston Dad, the Golden Perfect Age of the turn of the 20th century. So much to be proud of then:

-Jim Crow
-Robber Barons and unchecked corporate monopolies
-Government corruption that would make today's politician's blush
-Ethnic slums that make our housing projects look like Manhattan penthouses

Yes, it was so much better then, and so much worse now.

Good grief. I weep for the warped view of America your children must be immersed in daily.

BostonGayDad 4/05/2006 02:08:00 AM  


Now that you mention those ugly pieces of history, It becomes clear that it was never the American people who instilled patriotism in our new immigrants. Not in the European wave—not in the current wave.

Your list got me to thinking more about this. During the European wave of immigration, the Irish came—and we called them "mick" and "paddy", and we hung signs that said "Irish need not apply". The Chinese came—and we called them “chink” and “gook”. The Italians came—and we called them “ginny” and “wop”. The Jews came—and we called them “kike” and “heeb” and “hymie” and “jew-boy” and even ”Christ-killer. The Poles came—and we called them “polski” and “pollock”.

We had slavery. We had mistreatment of Native Americans. We had the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2. We had McCarthyism. We had Watergate. We had Iran-Contra. We had the Savings & Loan Scandal. We had Newt Gingrich. We had (have) the Priest abuse Scandal.

It seems that between the two of us we have proved Peggy Noonan wrong. Perhaps it was never the infectious patriotism of Americans that helped assimilate immigrants in the early 20th century. Perhaps it was self-respect, discipline and pride in their heritage that helped them to assimilate. Perhaps it was the truly lofty American ideals rather than Americans that instilled patriotic pride.

I am proud of America’s ideals. We have free thought, free speech, freedom of worship. We have the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist papers. We have checks and balances (except under the current Bush administration). But just as I refuse to be blind in my faith, I refuse to be blind to the times when we as a country have not lived up to our ideals—whether is was the acts of a misguided president or the prejudices of the masses.

Thanks for weeping for my children but they will grow up knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly about their country (or any other subject). How can they be the best Americans they can be without knowing the avoidable traps we as a nation have fallen into throughout history. If they are going to wave the flag, I want them to understand why they want to wave it and not do it just because a bunch of lemmings said “follow me” and they marched off a cliff to the sound of a fife and drum! I fly our flag every day because it stands for a noble form of government that gives me the right of dissent.

I close with a comprehensive list of controversies of just our current administration:
AIPAC espionage scandal
Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
Al Jazeera bombing memo
Joe Allbaugh
Claude Allen
Leandro Aragoncillo
Black site
Michael D. Brown
Bugging the UN
Bush administration payment of columnists
Bush-Blair memo
Criticism of government response to Hurricane Katrina
George Deutsch
Dick Cheney hunting incident
Downing Street memo
Dubai Ports World controversy
Energy Task Force
Extraordinary rendition
Jeff Gannon
George W. Bush Scotland bicycle accident
Bunnatine Greenhouse
Iraq and weapons of mass destruction
Jack Abramoff Guam investigation
Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal
K Street Project
Scooter Libby
Lincoln Group
Carla Martin
New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal (2002)
NSA warrantless surveillance controversy
Office of Special Plans
Plame affair
Plame affair legal questions
Political effects of Hurricane Katrina
Karl Rove
Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
David Safavian
David C. Sanborn
Sisters (Lynne Cheney novel)
Terrorist surveillance program
United States steel tariff 2002
Unlawful combatant
War on Terrorism
White phosphorus use in Iraq
Yellowcake forgery

Shawmut 4/05/2006 04:42:00 PM  

This whole situation regarding the illegals and their failure, actual resistance) to assimilate is what goes bust when PC (Philosophical Constipation) goes bust. On May 1st it will be flowing down the streets.

BostonGayDad 4/08/2006 12:33:00 PM  

Morning Q:

Should I assume by your lack of response to my last post that we have reached agreement on the subject?


BostonGayDad 4/10/2006 01:18:00 AM  

Still no word from you QCon? Are we really in agreement or are you just playing hard to get? The hard to get thing sucks me in every time. Honestly it makes me WANT you. If I were to fly to Atlanta some weekend, could I take you out on a date? Any thing you'd like to do...dinner at your favorite restaurant, a hike in the woods, a day of Atlanta sight seeing? Do you kiss on the first date? Shag on the first date? Are you a top or a bottom? Hope to hear from you soon.


Kevin 4/10/2006 08:33:00 AM  

BGD - I did reply to your email, but you have one of those silly all or nothing spam filters that requires me to do all the work in order to email you, and I just didn't care enough to take the time.

In answer to your question of whether or not I agree with you. Nope, and I never will. I'll just never be able to hate America like you do. Your abject hatred for America also makes me pity you, which precludes ever going out to dinner with you. I don't date the pitful or the unpatriotic.

Recent Comments

Contact Me



Google Chat:

Label Cloud


. . .

. . .

. . .


Blog Archive


All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author. The author’s opinions do not represent those of his employers. All original material is copyrighted and property of the author. If you use it at least have the decency to give me credit for it. Don’t steal it or I reserve the right to sue you to heck and back, or worse. Other info may have been copyrighted by someone else; the author believes that such work as is quoted here does not exceed reasonable “fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the United States Copyright Law as I understand it. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Opinions in comments or trackbacks are not mine, so if you have a problem with those, sorry, I can’t help you. Comments on this blog become the sole property of the blog, and may be reused or quoted on the blog or in any other media. Anyone mentioned in relation to a crime is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Contact: writetokevinp@gmail.com. All e-mails are presumed to be for publication on the site unless I am specifically and politely told otherwise - if you’re rude I’ll publish them just to hack you off. All comments are subject to deletion or revision should the author find them offensive or just simply not like you. Trolling will not be tolerated.

  © Blogger templates ProBlogger Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP