Mona Charen with a terrific column today on the immigration protests. Excerpts:
Too many Americans, particularly those who control the schools, have abandoned the goal of assimilation -- the idea that Americans had a right to demand that immigrants learn our language, abide by our laws, adopt our customs and abandon loyalty to any other power. Exalting multiculturalism and multilingualism, and encouraging separatism on the part of minorities, liberals are in effect asking Americans not just to open their doors but to tear down the house.
Most galling to many Americans (both native-born and naturalized) is the attitude of entitlement displayed by the illegals who thronged the streets in recent weeks. To stage a demonstration demanding anything when you are not in the country legally is an act of supreme chutzpah. But what do we expect? When immigrants arrive, they find school systems bending over backward to offer bilingual education, Mexican pride festivals and Spanish language options at the bank, supermarket and post office. Our intellectual climate tells them that separatism is the way to go.
Meanwhile, over at NRO John Derbyshire (don’t always agree with him, but gotta give him props when he’s on) offers suggestions on how to answer the canned statements that come from those who want to open the borders up:
This is not to suggest that Mexican immigrants abandon pride in their origins or forsake their cultural heritage, merely that they do what every other immigrant group has done -- integrate in public and save the mother tongue for the home. It would also be fitting for them to remember that gratitude is becoming; entitlement is not.
- "They're just coming here for a better life." Well, that's also the reason people rob banks. If you rob a bank and get away with it, you'll have a MUCH better life than you had before. Should we legalize bank robbery? [a comment which has become a point of contention in The Corner; is he putting illegals on an equal status with bank robbers? I think not; he’s simply pointing out that there are a lot of things you can do to make your life “better”; better does not necessarily mean better, if you get my drift.]
- "Many of them have sons & daughters in the military, fighting in Iraq." On general grounds, I think hiring illegal immigrants into the armed forces is a lousy idea. When the Romans ran out of citizens willing to fight, they hired Germans, and look what happened. Still, any illegal who has served in combat on this country's behalf ought to be given citizenship, though I'd make his relatives go through proper channels. At least we'd find out how many is that "many."
- "Deporting illegals would mean splitting up families." Only if they chose to split up. If a man is illegal, his wife legal, and their child a citizen, I'd deport the man. They'd have to decide among themselves whether to split up the family or not. The wife and child could go with the man, if they didn't want to be split up.
Why is this such an emotional issue? I think Mona Charen’s concluding paragraph sums it all up:
The fashion of multiculturalism has sparked exactly the opposite of what its propounders intended. Hostility to foreigners has increased because Americans have declining confidence that immigrants want to or can assimilate into the larger society.