Opinion

Immigration and lessons learned from the Klondike

Liberal orthodoxy holds that culture, religion and ethnicity don’t matter. Sure, most of the major conflicts of our time center on these three things, but the United States is different. The U.S. is free society, built upon the idea that humans of all backgrounds and creeds can come together and build their own destinies.

Yet there are limits to the notion that “diversity is our strength.” Firstly, it is not entirely clear that the U.S. always has been what the American Civil Liberties Union makes it out to be. As the Rockford Institute’s Paul Gottfried points out, “Up until well into the twentieth century, wide popular support and even Supreme Court decisions favored the view that the U.S. was a Western Christian country” (or perhaps Judeo-Christian) in character and culture.

Secondly, culture and ethnicity can be more divisive than one might expect, even in a free society. As immigrants from Southeast Asia pour in, Asian Americans, once thought among the best integrated of minorities, are slowly beginning to form their own spaces in society. Counter-assimilative forces are even more noticeable when language is a factor. The sheer number of Spanish-speaking Mexicans to (legally or otherwise) to southwestern U.S., plus its close proximity to Mexico, makes that group difficult to assimilate.

The potential this creates for ethnic tension should not be underestimated. One need only look to our bilingual northern neighbor, where francophone Quebec functions largely apart from Anglophone Canada and has on occasion sought full independence. Keep in mind that, apart from language, British and French Canada have much in common: Both are European and Christian and their peoples could, at least at a glance, be mistaken for one another.

At least, they were European and Christian. Canada, like the U.S., has begun to witness a massive surge in levels of third world immigration and, except for language, is not even trying to assimilate its newcomers (if they did try, they would fail due to numbers alone). It should also be pointed out that, after several decades of trenchant secularization, Canada – especially Quebec – boasts a severely depressed birthrate and distressingly high abortion and suicide rates.

Americans should not ignore the message here, as we are also relinquishing enough of our identity to endanger our survival as a coherent nation. For the sake of our posterity, and ourselves, let us decide once and for all who we are and form our policies accordingly.

Nicholas G. Moses can be contacted at n.moses@umiami.edu.

November 2, 2004

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.