Jesse Washington wrote, "But today, with the world a mouse click away and most every country in the world accessible in little more than a day, globalization is competing fiercely with assimilation. People who have a foot in two strikingly different cultures no longer leave one behind for the other. Now they can move between them easily, fluidly, quickly. Thus it becomes possible for a fanatical few Muslim-Americans, living in the belly of what they perceive as a hostile culture, to feel closer to a bombed Afghan village or a Pakistani madrassa than to the America outside their own front doors." The assimilated terrorist: an outsider no longer—he became a home grown terrorist .
A reader named Milt wrote me a compelling understanding of what America faces as it immigrates and displaces itself out of its own culture and language. The Muslim-American Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad last May illustrates our plight.
“Mr. Washington's perceptive description of the limits of assimilation in an environment of rapid globalization is, I believe, an increasingly important consideration in the immigration debate,” said Milt. “The problem, as he so eloquently describes it, is that -- thanks to advances in transportation and instant communication -- it is now easy to physically reside in this country while maintaining a completely functional psychological attachment to one's country and/or culture of origin. As Geneive Abdo (cited in the article) puts it, "Globalization has changed the nature of assimilation."
“From the perspective of the global market and its ideological supporters, who "needs" to assimilate when you can, seemingly, have the best of both worlds? Rather than having to deal with the messy issues and obligations of American citizenship, you can -- with Washington's blessing, apparently -- live here as a "consumer" of existing American institutions without adopting any of this country's core values or in any way contributing to its survival in an increasingly indifferent, if not hostile world. And, should you happen to dislike some aspects of your new American life (the local authorities frown on the honor killings that you wish to perform or the bribes that you wish to pay to the local zoning board), there are numerous organizations dedicated to changing America to better suit your tastes.
“Witness the sad case of the Times Square bomber and others like him. Viewed from this perspective, the whole discussion about the "need" for immigrants to assimilate takes on an entirely different context. Indeed, if we acknowledge that we are now living in a global environment in which immigrants are under less and less pressure to adapt and adopt our traditional American culture as their own, what should be our policy about allowing such people to reside here and how should this phenomenon influence our thinking about immigration? Do we need or want more people like Mr. Shahzad living in this country who, apparently, shares very few our core values, or -- as The Powers That Be in Washington keep suggesting -- does he represent the new (totally expediency-based) paradigm of what being an American is actually all about?
“Or, in other words, should we CARE whether or not people adhere to the norms and mores of traditional American society, or -- as some view the Constitution -- is our society itself a "living document" that should instantly conform to whatever cultural beliefs and practices people bring with them? Rather than representing a uniquely valuable set of beliefs and institutions (our "cultural DNA," as Hazel Henderson so aptly puts it), is America simply a place where everything (and anything) is accepted out of a misplaced faith in "tolerance," and there are no standards that are worthy of preservation?
“This is the subject of Samuel P. Huntington's excellent -- if all but unknown -- book, Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity, published in 2004. If there were ever a book that “The Powers That Be” do not want you to read and think about, this is it.
“Put even more plainly, do existing societies have the "right" to try to preserve themselves by limiting entrance into their territories (through immigration laws) and participation in their cultures, or do the emerging concepts of the "inalienable rights" of "global citizens" trump the abilities of nation states to control their own destinies? And, if assimilation is no longer the assumed natural outcome of physical separation from one's home society -- our historical experience here in America -- what should countries demand of those people that they do allow [assuming that they have such a "right"] to reside within their borders?
“In an ideal sense -- and if there is any desire at all to preserve something like the traditional idea of America -- no person should be allowed to become a citizen of this country [or even to reside in it for more than a short period of time] without exhibiting some convincing demonstration that they wish to adhere to the ideas and ideals on which this country was founded as opposed to retaining whatever beliefs and ideologies might obtain in their country of origin. If you wish to physically reside here (whether out of convenience or necessity), then YOU are then obligated to adjust to the norms of OUR society, and not the other way around. No ifs, ands, or buts in this matter.
“Of course, the Kennedy wing of the " progressive" movement believes in none of this. In their enlightened worldview, the "rights" of anyone who wants to take up residence here completely supersede the "rights" of native or naturalized Americans to preserve their existing culture and society [we are all evil nativist, know-nothing, knuckle-dragging, black-hearted haters of humanity, don't you see] or, for that matter, even our right to attempt to preserve this country and its liberal, democratic government. No, the time has come to end all of that evil nonsense and to "embrace diversity" in whatever forms it may assume when it arrives on our shores.
Let us have, instead, bombings, honor killings, gay killings, genital mutilation, drug wars, religious intolerance, no belief in the value of secular education, institutionalized corruption, the persecution of minorities, and the suppression of women's rights. Then we will have the "good" society that we are all seeking, won't we? And newcomers to our shores will be more "comfortable" when they arrive here.”
“What could possibly be more important than that?” said reader Milt.
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents "The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it" to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715