Tuesday, April 04, 2006

On Being American - Assimilation TIHP Part II

Part I here.

Over the weekend, via Instapundit, I read an opinion column at the WSJ from Peggy Noonan. Her words for me hit the argument perfectly:
..it's not fear about "them." It's anxiety about us.
She is so right. And she continues (my emphasis):
...we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don't do that, you'll lose it all. We are assimilating them culturally. 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.
When I read that, I knew she was right. That is exactly where as a nation and as a government we are failing with immigrants. Multiculturalism, instead of teaching tolerance and respect, is teaching separation, ostracism, and nationalism to the wrong nation. It reminded me of Teddy Roosevelt's quote on being American:
The foreign-born population of this country must be an Americanized population - no other kind can fight the battles of America either in war or peace. It must talk the language of its native-born fellow-citizens, it must possess American citizenship and American ideals. It must stand firm by its oath of allegiance in word and deed and must show that in very fact it has renounced allegiance to every prince, potentate, or foreign government. It must be maintained on an American standard of living so as to prevent labor disturbances in important plants and at critical times. None of these objects can be secured as long as we have immigrant colonies, ghettos, and immigrant sections, and above all they cannot be assured so long as we consider the immigrant only as an industrial asset.
How right he was. He also foresaw that the ruin of this great nation, would be the day we surrendered to becoming squabbling nationalities rather than ONE WHOLE AMERICAN NATION. He referred to this as the hyphenated Americans - Mexican-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, German-Americans. But how well these terms have been sold to us! To show our heritage, and our ethnic pride. To be yet another segmentation variable to a Marketing firm, another segment to be targeted, another box to check in the Census. They should be asking if we are citizens or not, and what our heritage is. They should also be asking if we are willing to die for this country - I am are you?

To end this post, there was a great article on The American Thinker regarding this very subject of being American - and not just on paper. But being American means pledging allegiance to this nation, loving her with your heart and soul, and being willing to die to defend it. My spouse is not even a citizen yet and he would defend this nation from an attack with his life; no questions asked.
To ordinary Americans, the definition of “immigration” is very specific: You come here with absolutely nothing except a burning desire to be an American. You start off at some miserable, low-paying job that at least puts a roof over your family’s head and food on the table. You put your kids in school, tell them how lucky they are to be here – and make darn sure they do well even if that means hiring a tutor and taking a second, or third, job to pay for it. You learn English, even if you’ve got to take classes at night when you’re dead tired. You play by the rules—which means you pay your taxes, get a driver’s license and insure your car so that if yours hits mine, I can recover the cost of the damages. And you file for citizenship the first day you’re eligible.
If Americans saw this in the majority of the groups marching and protesting, if Americans saw this in the recent waves of immigrants, they'd probably be more willing to accept the resolutions being debated. In addition, the article tackles specifically the Hispanic population:

...Hispanics who have come to our country in the last several decades – and it’s the Hispanics we’re talking about in this debate, not those from other cultures—are, in fact, two distinct groups. The first group...are not the problem. Indeed, most Americans welcome them...The problem is the second group of Hispanics.

They aren’t immigrants – which is what neither the Democratic or Republican leadership seems to understand, or wants to acknowledge. They have come here solely for jobs, which isn’t the same thing at all. (And many of them have come here illegally.) Yes, they work hard to put roofs above their heads and food on their tables – and for this we respect them. But they have little interest in learning English themselves, and instead demand that we make it possible for them to function here in Spanish. They put their children in our schools, but don’t always demand as much from them as previous groups demanded of their kids. They don’t always pay their taxes – or insure their cars.

I'd advise you all to read all three documents. It will shed light on why this immigration debate is raising so many emotions. And NO it's not Xenophobia, its not racism, it is not anti-immigrant sentiment. It's the lack of Americanism, the lack of want and drive to be an American. It's the lack of love some of these groups feel towards our country because many of them are still in their homeland.

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