One reason there’s not much of a debate about the mass immigration that has swept into the country during the last 30 years is that most of the eggheads who expound on immigration harbor the fond illusion that the immigrants will assimilate—that is, learn the English language
, adopt Western and American values, and live, work, and conduct themselves like everybody else in the country. That, of course, is pretty much what earlier generations of immigrants did, and the result has been satisfactory for everyone.
But that’s not what present-day immigrants are doing. They are not behaving the way the eggheads—and the lawmakers who listened to them—anticipated. Not only does the United States now sport such quaint Third World customs as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and alien religions that are little more than voodoo and black magic.
Language is one of the major bonds that holds a nation together and distinguishes it from other nations. It is also one of the easiest things for immigrants to adopt in the process of assimilation. And if immigrants don’t adopt the language of their new country, it is very likely they have not assimilated and do not intend to assimilate. In the case of recent immigrants to this country, it is now pretty clear they are not assimilating and have no plans to get on with it.
This week The Washington Times published a story about the language enclaves developing in the United States precisely because of unassimilated immigrants. It turns out that some 300 different languages are now spoken in this country, and as of 1990 some 31.6 million people who speak them. That is one-seventh of the entire population, and that was 10 years ago. Today there are a lot more.
“The changes,” the story tells us, “are reducing the prevalence and primacy of English in American life and culture. More than ever, modern America is multilingual.” You do not really need newspapers to tell you that. Go to the bank in most metropolitan areas, and the teller machine asks you in which language you want to do business. Churches, shopping centers, and many stores and restaurants sport signs and ads in languages other than the mother tongue.
Immigration is the overwhelming reason for the sprouting of the linguistic jungle in America, but there are also other forces at work. For one thing, as the article notes, “Immigrant communities in some states have become so large and insular that greater numbers of people find no need to learn English.” Little Havana in Miami is the example the story offers, but it is not alone.
Indeed, this points to the whole problem with mass immigration that brings in too many people too fast. When immigrants can have their own languages—and their customs and values—reinforced by large numbers of people like themselves from the same places, they do not need to assimilate. Instead, they form their own communities and enclaves, and the surrounding society has to assimilate to them.
Add to that the general weakening of the social disciplines in American culture over the last 30 years and what you have is not assimilation of immigrants but what may be the impending disintegration of the cultural—and maybe eventually the political—bonds of the nation. Affirmative action, laws that outlaw discrimination, bilingual education, and similar pea-brained notions have made it almost impossible for native or assimilated Americans to enforce their culture and language on newcomers.
The Times article also points out that the immigrants themselves often do not much care about adapting to their new homeland and its language and folkways. “There has been a widely reported surge in the growth of special ethnic language schools teaching Persian, Hindi, Mandarin, Korean, Farsi, Czech and other languages to immigrant youth. . . . They offer a way for immigrant parents to instill in their youngsters the parents’ native culture and traditions, while keeping their offspring from total assimilation into U.S. culture.”
That’s swell, of course. Everyone should grow up learning the traditions and culture their parents teach them. An even better way to learn it is for the immigrants to go back to their own countries and teach their kids there.
But what the linguistic anarchy now descending on the local schools, governments, economies, and culture of the nation means is that there is less and less pressure on new immigrants to assimilate at all, and more and more pressure on Americans already here to adapt themselves to what the immigrants prefer. And, as that occurs, there are fewer and fewer American leaders—eggheads or lawmakers—interested in trying to halt the flow of immigration or the massive injection of alien tongues and folkways into the disintegrating American civilization.
This article is excerpted from Shots Fired: Sam Francis on America’s Culture War (FGF BOOKS, 2007). It was originally published by Creators Syndicate on June 2, 2000).
The Samuel Francis Classics are copyright © 2008 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfbooks.com. All rights reserved.