American Dreaming

Late night musings:

I’ll be the first to admit that I have mixed feelings about illegal immigration, immigration laws, border patrolling and the like. Furthermore, I won’t claim to know the exact ins-and-outs of the current laws with regard to immigration and what D.C. has up its sleeve for “stopping” the flow of illegals into the US.

Yeah, protests are breeding grounds for attracting the garden-variety radical “-isms” (cue Ferris Bueller shower speech scene). But while television cameras may catch a smattering of “reconquest” placards and street hooliganism (controversy sells), my feeling is that the vast majority of protestors yearn to be American, love America, contribute greatly to the economy, have a desire to work, and accept the US/Western way of life.

I say this here because last fall's news of balkanized violence around major European cities is still fresh in my mind. Pockets of mainly North African immigrants in the London and Paris ‘burbs who are ambivalent toward their adopted country at best, and violently hostile towards it at worst, still echo. While it’d be naïve to believe it’s all a bed of roses here in the US, the assimilated melting pot has still gone strong.


(I know I’m generally preaching to the choir, but…) Xenophobia and ethnic-based hatred are always ugly animals that will be with us. But whatever comes of these immigration issues over the next x years, we can’t afford the rise of balkanized silos or a salad-bowl scenario.

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A guest worker program is

A guest worker program is exactly what caused France's problems, and it's exactly what we don't want. Guest workers are a permanent government-created underclass.

Digamma, I agree. That's why

Digamma, I agree. That's why public policy should cut them loose. No more living in limbo waiting for a Visa renewal to be accepted, segregating families and placing immigrants at the mercy of the state's beauracracy. End state violence against peaceful violators of unjust borders.

What's a "salad-bowl

What's a "salad-bowl scenario"?

Pretty much the opposite of

Pretty much the opposite of a melting pot.

Lots to peruse here. :smile:

I drew up something that I

I drew up something that I think captures the hypocrisy of the U.S. government's stance on immigration. Please let me know what you think.

"... we can't afford the

"... we can't afford the rise of balkanized silos or a salad-bowl scenario."

Yeah, that would be horrible. I mean, we could end up like Switzerland or Belgium.

Unless, just maybe, violence in certain multinational societies (French immigrant ghettoes, the Balkans, Iraq) has more to do with issues of constitutional politics, and not much at all to do with cultural "assimilation" or the lack of it, after all?

Rad Geek, I'm pretty sure

Rad Geek,

I'm pretty sure that, at best, its a chicken or egg situation, but it does seem fairly clear that the muslim rioting is predominantly due to a violent rejection of French culture.

And really, Belgium? not the best counterexample. *shudder* Thats a horrible situation even in a best case scenario. If thats the alternative, the Hell Yeah to the melting pot of American syncretism.

Brian, I think you're


I think you're oversimplifying the causes of the riots in France (the relationship of the police to residents of the immigrant ghettoes, just to take one example, seems to have been pretty important). But even if the riots were purely about "violent rejection of French culture," there's two different elements that you have to look at in that formula: (1) the rejection of French culture (whatever that comes to concretely), and (2) the violent expression of that rejection. I'd like to suggest that (1) is not a sufficient condition for (2), and Belgium and Switzerland are good examples of why.

It's true that Belgium, like many of its neighbors, has problems with bristling, sometimes-violent relationships between the white population and the residents of immigrant ghettoes. What I was referring to, though, was the prickly but notably nonviolent relationship between Flemings and Walloons (as well as the small German-speaking minority), not the relationship between the white ethnic groups and the population in immigrant ghettoes. The fact that these two kinds of relationships across inter-ethnic divides are so different might tell you something about the underlying causes. Perhaps it has more to do with the way that immigrants and their descendents are treated by the government than it does with whether or not any particular national group is "assimilating" to, selectively incorporating elements of, rejecting, or simply ignoring the culture of other national groups within the country?

The point here is that people very often cite countries that have suffered ethnic bloodbaths within living memory (the Balkans in the past decade, for example) in order to "demonstrate" the need for unitary, homogenous national cultures within the borders of a given state. I find this frankly ridiculous. Quebec is not descending into civil war; Czechoslovakia existed and then disappeared without bloodshed; and Switzerland has remained as peaceful, prosperous, and free as any country in Europe for several centuries. There's precious little evidence to suggest that "balkanized silos" of people who aren't substantially alike in their language, religion, literature, etiquette, habits, leisure activities, dress, or other elements of culture, are a sufficient condition for making inter-ethnic relationships particularly hostile, let alone openly violent. What does tend to reliably produce inter-ethnic hostility and violence are political arrangements in which some national groups are ghettoized and politically and culturally subordinated to other national groups. In other words, the issue here is political domination vs. political equality, not cultural melting pots vs. cultural salad bowls.

Rad Geek- Disjoint thoughts,

Rad Geek-

Disjoint thoughts, in turn:

When I shuddered at Belgium, I was also thinking of the acrid relationship of the Flemish and the Walloons, for whom a great deal wouldn't cross the road to defecate on the other even if their lives depended on it. That they (generally) don't express their great disdain for the other with violence isn't much of a mitigator. It could be either the culture of both is to be law-abiding or that a suboptimal system of ethnic spoils simulatenously exacerbates the tensions while giving them a political outlet. The latter is odious and the (generally) nonviolent nature of the antipathy is no excuse to keep an ethnic spoils system in place as a safety valve. In any case, I'd still rather live in the US where (generally) ethnic identity is not a respectable or formal basis for governance.

Quebec has been the main source of all that is bad in Canada for decades now, and every move to placate them politically has resulted in greater dissention; the more that Canada's government embraced and legitimated the "otherness" of Quebec, the worse things have gotten for everyone.

When Doug shudders at balkanized silos of ethnicity, the last thing that comes to mind is Switzerland. Switzerland, for everything else that is going on, DOES have a unified culture- in the way that matters. That is, everyone is Swiss, and everyone who wants to live in peace *as we do* may do so, regardless of language/ethnic background (granted it was all white back in the day, and pretty much remains so, but still). Switzerland is not just a peaceful, white Anarcho-Somalia where people just happen to be there and get along. A Swiss culture exists, and it is admirably liberal in its meta structure- a framework for utopias & cooperation. But the framework IS the national culture and people who live there *are expected* to grok it ASAP.

Thus Switzerland isn't a very good counterargument to Doug, since Switzerland (and the US generally) has a unified/singular liberal metaculture and is not set up ala the

In other words, the issue here is political domination vs. political equality, not cultural melting pots vs. cultural salad bowls.

...which is a non-sequitur to the first statement. Mass politics explicitly based on politics-through-ethnicity is anathema to a liberal, cosmopolitan society. If you want people not to get up in arms about this that or the other thing by ethnic community, the last thing you do is *politicize* the ethnic community. Unlike with free speech, it seems highly unlikely (if history is a guide) that the solution to bad ethnic politics is *more* ethnic politics.