I Found Assimilation on a Two Way Street/And Lost it on a Lonely Highway
Really, a loss of our cultural hegemony is the least of our worries regarding immigration. Immigrants, ethnics, people of color, all realize that part of the game of Life in this country is to in part conform to the norms. Most of managed the balancing act of having a face for mainstream America and a face for the folks in their enclave. It drives some people crazy, what I call cultural schizophrenia.
Not only has the enthralling Anglo culture been able to withstand the influx of European ethnics, Asians, Jews, and the special import population, it has expanded its reach globally with the power of the cathode ray tube. The culture is a flickering filament in the beam of light that draws people here. However, what they see is not the culture that AC sees.
Assimilation in the form AC would like to see, total and utter submission to the Borg of bland J. Crew-ness (the company makes a fine pair of chinos) is a two way street. Not only does the group/sub-culture in question have to believe abandoning their sending culture is beneficial enough to go through the machinations, it has to be accepted by the majority. That acceptance, as B points out, comes grudgingly, if at all. Now, how, tell me, do you expect Arab and Persian immigrants to want to be a part of the “melting pot” when it is boiling them alive with suspicion and doubt? How do you expect Hispanic and Latino immigrants to want to jump in with both feet when the police are getting Bull Conner on their asses? Sure, the majority would like to assimilate half of the Asian population and welcome them with open arms and sweaty palms. What about the other half, derided as either hopelessly effete or dangerously inscrutable? (Yes, I’ll get to “us” in a minute)
Moreover, what exactly does it mean to assimilate in these modern times? Playing golf and liking it? Being able to discuss American Idol, Heroes, and The Office over morning coffee? Owning a gun? Speaking the 10th grade level English that most of us speak (I’m working on 7th)? Not owning a business that operates on some level tied to the country of your birth or parent’s birth? Listening to rap music? Eating Pizza? Drinking beer? Being a “soccer mom?”
Assimilation has been effective as a one-way street in the US in a couple of cases, the relocation of Africans and Native Americans. So, let’s use that model in the modern day! All you have to do is beat the foreign out of them, force them to take Anglo names or forbid them from speaking their language. Make them go to church on the reg, just not their church. If you really want to assimilate them well, make them resemble you by sneaking into their women’s bedrooms at night while your kids are asleep. Okay, perhaps that doesn’t work so well because of the whole recessive genes thing, but you get the idea. Damn science. If they feel like they want to get sassy and demur, give them a distraction, like liquor, small pox, or the WB.
So, bud, you’re saying that if these “aliens” just play it like Clarence, all the compunction about immigration would go away? Hmm. Guess I better forget the whole teaching my son Japanese thing.
The argument that immigration is a danger to our way of life is not only dangerous itself, but flawed. The way of life you’re trying to protect isn’t the way of life immigrants want when they come here, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. AC misses the point of B.’s aside. It isn’t that “because we are all immigrants we should allow unfettered immigration,” it’s that there’s nothing wrong with bringing some of your “alien culture” when you immigrate AND keep it while you stay.