Gerald Seib’s recent Wall Street Journal column on the problem of assimilation is a good example of why our immigration system is failing. Seib argues that the Marathon bombing is an extreme example of a general problem with assimilation. He then does a fine job of pointing out some important reasons why assimilation isn’t succeeding the way it used to in this country. Yet Seib’s supposed solution is destined to fail. He thinks still more celebration of diversity will help, when confidently teaching the principles of our founding and celebrating our common American heritage is the only way to assimilate immigrants to this country.
Today’s piece from NR’s Editors on Boston and immigration policy gets assimilation right. But what are the chances congress will deal with the problem when so many believe that more celebration of diversity is the way to go? The report on our failed system of patriotic assimilation by Hudson Institute’s John Fonte and Althea Nagai is worth reading on this score. Consider that Maryland recently created a task force to promote the maintenance of immigrants’ birth languages, with funding from the state. Massachusetts explicitly rejects the idea of “pushing children to learn English as quickly as possible.” It’s all the opposite of what’s needed.
Fonte and Nagai quote a veteran from the post World War II era of military integration who remembers his Marine Corps drill instructor saying: “If you daddy is a doctor or if you come from the projects in East St. Louis or a reservation in Arizona, it no longer matters. Black. White. Mexican. Vietnamese. Navajo. The Marine Corps doesn’t care! Your drill instructors don’t care. You are now green! You are light green or dark green. You are not black or white or brown or yellow or red. Do you understand me, recruits?” Today, however, under the “changing demographics” rationale the Pentagon explicitly says that diversity management is “not about treating everyone the same.”
Is this the environment into which we want to bring a massive new surge of citizens? I don’t think so. There are ways to fix our assimilation problem, but they won’t be easy or fast, and they won’t involve more cultural “sensitivity.” Until we get our own house in order and pare back our excesses of multiculturalism, this immigration bill is a bad idea.