I wasted my time getting in to another fruitless exchange about illegal immigration. Luckily, I have my own weblog on which to vent at length.
What we see today is what I consider significant problems with illegal immigration. When we have polticial marches in which the marchers proclaim allegiance to a foreign government and declare that government the true owner of part (or all) of our country, we are far out of the acceptable behavior of ethnic pride parades.
Yet ultimately, OJ is correct to the extent that the root of the problem is not that the immigrants of today are much different from those of previous eras. The immigrants of today bring along social pathologies, coming as they do from less functional or outright broken societies. Yet the immigrants of yesteryear were hardly better in that regard.
What has changed is our own nation. During previous immigration waves, we had a strong, self confident culture that brooked no question of whether immigrants should assimilate. In such an environment, adaptation was rewarded and dysfunction punished. In effect, our society had a healthy immune system, capable of rejecting the pathologies carried by the immigrants while refreshing itself with the adoption of useful cultural imports.
Today, however, our society rewards deviance, defiance and disloyalty. Play by the rules, try to assimilate and you’re on your own. Rage defiantly at the dominant culture and you will be provided with special programs, help and affirmation. Instead of rejection, such pathologies are magnified and, in a variant of the “broken windows” effect, the inchoate middle is dragged in the wrong direction.
This is fine if your goal, as it seems to be for much of the MAL, is the destruction of American culture. If, however, one thinks that we have achieved in this country the basis for a great nation, it’s not so good. When one has a weak immune system, the choices are to either strengthen the immune system or reduce exposure to infections. While the former is clearly preferable, it is not always achievable. While I am sure there are racists who don’t like immigrants per se, most of the peope I read object to massive levels of illegal immigration in to a society that (in their view) is no longer capable of proper assimilation. If one truly believes that our society cannot assimilate as it has before, due to the rise of multiculturalism and the welfare state, what alternative is there but to restrict the flow of immigration, at least temporarily? And if one is going to engage in such restrictions, it seems that illegal immigration is the best place to start.
If President Bush really wants to get his guest workers / amnest program through, then a real committment to the kind of assimiliation this nation has done in the past would likely go a long way towards placating the American Street.