November 18, 2007, Roger Kimball, Pajamas Media:
Justice Louis Brandeis outlined the pattern in 1919. Americanization, he said, means that the immigrant “adopts the clothes, the manners, and the customs generally prevailing here … substitutes for his mother tongue the English language” and comes “into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations and cooperate[s] with us for their attainment.” Until the 1960s, the Brandeis model mostly prevailed. Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish groups, understanding that assimilation was the best ticket to stability and social and economic success, eagerly aided in the task of integrating their charges into American society.Via: VFR
The story is very different today. In America, there is a dangerous new tide of immigration from Asia, a variety of Muslim countries, and Latin America, especially from Mexico. The tide is new not only chronologically but also in substance. First, there is the sheer matter of numbers. More than 2,200,000 legal immigrants came to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1990s alone. The number of illegal Mexican immigrants is staggering. So is their birth rate. Altogether there are more than 8 million Mexicans in the U.S. Some parts of the Southwest are well on their way to becoming what Victor Davis Hanson calls “Mexifornia,” “the strange society that is emerging as the result of a demographic and cultural revolution like no other in our times.” A professor of Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico gleefully predicts that by 2080 parts of the Southwest United States and Northern Mexico will join to form a new country, “La Republica del Norte.”
The problem is not only one of numbers, though. Earlier immigrants made—and were helped and goaded by the ambient culture to make—concerted efforts to assimilate. Important pockets of these new immigrants are not assimilating, not learning English, not becoming or thinking of themselves primarily as Americans. The effect of these developments on American identity is disastrous and potentially irreversible.
Such developments are abetted by the left-wing political and educational elites of this country, whose dominant theme is the perfidy of traditional American values. Hence the passion for multiculturalism and the ideal of ethnic hyphenation that goes with it. This has done immense damage in schools and colleges as well as in the population at large. By removing the obligation to master English, multiculturalism condemns whole sub-populations to the status of permanent second-class citizens. By removing the obligation to adopt American values, it fosters what the German novelist Hermann Broch once called a “value vacuum,” a sense of existential emptiness that breeds anomie and the pathologies of nihilism.
As if in revenge for this injustice, however, multiculturalism also weakens the social bonds of the community at large. The price of imperfect assimilation is imperfect loyalty. Take the movement for bilingualism. Whatever it intended in theory, in practice it means not mastering English. It has notoriously left its supposed beneficiaries essentially monolingual, often semi-lingual. The only “bi” involved is a passion for bifurcation, which is fed by the accumulated resentments instilled by the anti-American multicultural orthodoxy. Every time you call directory assistance or some large corporation and are told “Press One for English” and “Para español oprime el numero dos” it is another small setback for American identity ...
The combined effect of the multicultural enterprise has been to undermine the foundation of American national identity. Huntington speaks dramatically but not inaptly of “Deconstructing America.” What he has in mind are not the linguistic tergiversations of a Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucault but the efforts—politically if not always intellectually allied efforts—to disestablish the dominant culture by fostering a variety of subversive attitudes, pieces of legislation, and judicial interventions. “The deconstructionists,” Huntington writes,promoted programs to enhance that status and influence of subnational racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. They encouraged immigrants to maintain their birth-country cultures, granted them legal privileges denied to native-born Americans, and denounced the idea of Americanization as un-American. They pushed the rewriting of history syllabi and textbooks so as to refer to the “peoples” of the United States in place of the single people of the Constitution. They urged supplementing or substituting for national history the history of subnational groups. They downgraded the centrality of English in American life and pushed bilingual education and linguistic diversity. They advocated legal recognition of group rights and racial preferences over the individual rights central to the American Creed. They justified their actions by theories of multiculturalism and the idea that diversity rather than unity or community should be America’s overriding value. The combined effect of these efforts was to promote the deconstruction of the American identity that had been gradually created over three centuries.Taken together, Huntington concludes, “these efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they governed were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history.”
The various movements to deconstruct American identity and replace it with a multicultural “rainbow” or supra-national bureaucracy have made astonishing inroads in the last few decades and especially in the last several years. And, as Huntington reminds us, the attack on American identity has counterparts elsewhere in the West wherever the doctrine of multiculturalism has trumped the cause of national identity. The European Union—whose unelected leaders are as dedicated to multicultural shibboleths as they are to rule by top-down, anti-democratic bureaucracy—is a case in point. But the United States, the most powerful national state, is also the most attractive target for deconstruction.
It is a curious development that Huntington traces. In many respects, it corroborates James Burnham’s observation, in Suicide of the West (1964), that “liberalism permits Western civilization to be reconciled to dissolution.” For what we have witnessed with the triumph of multiculturalism is a kind of hypertrophy or perversion of liberalism, as its core doctrines are pursued to the point of caricature.
Assimilation only happens under the weight of a dominant population, and the weight of a confident culture. Neither of these conditions exist in the West now. Assimilation is a thing of the past. That's why immigration of incompatibles should stop.