09 June 2007

Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?

An interesting article appeared today on Townhall.com by Diana West titled, “The PC End of the English-Speaking Peoples.” It’s a good read, though maybe uncomfortable for some – or most – readers.

That America and Britain are being changed forever by immigrant populations is without question. That the fabric of America is changing as a new group of people comes into the country is nothing new; it has happened again and again. What is different, I think, is the lack of assimilation of this group of immigrants. Separated by language and culture, and to some extent unwilling to adopt the language and culture of their gaining country, this group of Spainish-speaking, largely illegal, mostly Mexican immigrants has become a subset of the American population.

What will American culture be in 20 to 30 years, given this influx? The politically correct set say not to worry. America – what ever that means – will not be negatively affected by a subculture of undocumented workers separated by language living within it. It will be enriched! We ought to celebrate our diversity and welcome all into America with open arms – and no questions. American citizenship is, after all, the inalienable right of all living people on the planet.

And yet, that last statement smacks of guilt. Should I feel guilty about being born an American? Should second generation legal immigrants about their citizenship? Must we share our country with anyone who demands a piece of its prosperity? Why must America absorb any influx of illegal aliens (undocumented workers, sorry) regardless of ethnicity? Why is it considered a bigoted point of view to want to keep American culture more like what it is (or was) and demand that newcomers assimilate to it and not the other way around?

And there is something to this idea of American culture, I think, and it has nothing to do with race or gender. It has to do with opportunity, self-reliance and self-respect. It has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with demands, race-baiting or wealth-envy. It is bound up by a common language, English, and a common idea that everyone deserves a fair go at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How individuals – not groups – prosper from this cultural attitude defines America. That groups of the self-interested disparage these attitudes and advance “some animals are more equal than others” agendas is a detriment to the country and the culture.

Assimilation, as well, is not an act of a group, but rather an individual choice repeated again and again. Making that choice easier by making aspects of it mandatory, like learning English, is key. No citizen is more equal that another, and no potential citizen should be sold the American bill of goods as if they're entitled to it. It must be earned.

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