Wednesday, November 08, 2006

melting pot or tossed salad?

The election is over, but while the politics stuff is still warm I wanted to share this interesting article on immigration.

Cougars Among the Flock

Immigration is one of those issues that I'm not always sure what to do with. How does the Gospel apply to immigration? What does a Gospel-centered perspective on immigration look like?

I'd like to read Dykstra's book entitled "Yearning to be Free." (That's a good Dutch name!) I'm intrigued by this guy's ideas. . . . here are a couple of excerpts. . .

The law of God also made a clear distinction between the foreigner willing to assimilate and the one who refused to do so. Isaiah 56:3-8 is a good example of the assurances and encouragements given to the foreigner who embraced Israel's culture. Ezekiel 44:6-9 is a good example too of the restrictions placed on the foreigner who refused to assimilate. These distinctions between the one willing to assimilate and the one who refused to do so are good and wise, and we put our future in peril by refusing to apply them to the current immigration debate.

WORLD: Why did we move from a "melting pot" emphasis to our current "tossed salad" thinking?

DYKSTRA: The jettisoning of our historic melting pot concept, (E Pluribus Unum—"out of many one"), has taken place because of our uncritical acceptance of multiculturalism. George Will recently wrote of "the sacramental nature of multiculturalism." The belief that no culture is superior to another is an assertion that needs to be challenged and not merely accepted. The roots of multiculturalism are Marxist, and the degree to which it has been accepted is frightening. The current "tossed salad" alternative to the "melting pot" will only lead to more and more fragmentation of society.

WORLD: When countries don't require immigrants to assimilate, what is likely to happen?

DYKSTRA: I guess that depends on the immigrants. If they are peaceful and law-abiding, then assimilation is bound to take place over time. If they arrive determined not to assimilate and determined to overthrow their host country, then that is a grave danger. This is precisely what we are facing with Islamists, and they are open and frank in admitting it. The clear goal of Islamists is the establishment of totalitarian theocracies. Their ultimate goal is the establishment of a borderless Islamic caliphate. Our policies in the West should be toward requiring assimilation into our common culture and opposing the dangerous policies of allowing immigrants to live in host countries separate from the overarching culture. We should begin by challenging the assumptions of multiculturalism.
What are your thoughts? How might these principles apply to hispanic immigration?


Joe Pollon said...

I totally agree. I think that somewhere in the 60’s and 70’s it became cool to challenge the idea of America having a culture, not to mention being superior in any way. So if it isn’t any better, why make people conform. Multi-culturalism became vogue.

However, ideas and values have consequences—as is evident in cultures throughout history and around the world. Our level of stability, prosperity and peace are directly related to the values we hold, just as the level of instability, poverty and violence grow out of the values held in Africa or Asia or anywhere else.

Maybe we are not in the position to determine which cultures are better than others, but we can determine in which we prefer to live. And to welcome those willing to support that preference and turn away those who do not.

Immigrants, Hispanic or otherwise, who are willing to become “Americans” and assimilate to whatever degree that implies (common language, rule of law, constitutional principles, etc.) should be admitted. Those with different values seeking a different culture ought to find the land that better fits.

Andy Gibson said...

Wow, if there is one subject in the world that gets me rolling hit it.

I'll be frank here, and admit that I get extremely angry when I consider how every hard working, tax paying, health insurance policy holding citizen gets taken by (illegal) immigrants. Jeannett always gets mad at me for it and tells me to keep it to myself, which I never do, and tells me to just be gracious and love them, which I try to do but my fault is I can only do it about .1% the amount I should. I expected this article to carry that same theme at first glace, but I was, dare I say (because I don't sugarcoat anything), pleasantly suprised.

While the article focused mainly on Islam and the danger we bring upon ourselves by being so loose about "accepting" them, I read the whole article with hispanics in my mind. Although he makes a valid point with Muslims as well.

(BTW and indirectly off topic, who came up with the "accepting" under any circumstances politically correct BS? Well, let me see here....Dykstra mentions Marx (communist, which is ultra uber extreme left), and Joe hits it above; it came out of the 60's and 70's (hippies...which are maybe more socialist than communist, but very similar IMOP). What am I trying to say...I believe that we can probably place some blame on the left in the country over the past 30 years for where we are today and what Dykstra hits on in his article. We have gotten away from having God centered and Bible centered living in this country, which is the underlying theme even here with this immigration issue. The ACLU, our way too "accepting" leaders here in California (Capps, Feinstein, both of which just won....again)...on, and on, and on, and on. Sorry if I am offending anybody, but I would love to hear other factors that could have contributed to the "tossed salad" we have created in America, some defending of the ACLU, etc.? It's pretty black and white to me. But then again, it's a subject that definitely gets my wheels turning, sometimes too fast.)

Anyways, I digress. I think Ezekiel 44 said it all. We do put our future in peril...actually, it already is, by not forcing (I use the word force intentionally) people to assimilate to a certain degree into the culture. Don't get me wrong, I am all for supporting the immigrants that take up the dream and bust their butts here in America for the greater good of up their own businesses, etc. It's also wonderful if people want to keep a pieces of their heritage when they come here, like speaking their native language (at home, amongst themselves, etc.) and eating their foods. That is part of what makes America so great, eating good Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and Thai food. The issue is moving here and then refusing to accept the fact that, well, you moved here. I am not for supporting the immigrants that refuse to learn English and expect us to speak their language, that are sucking our hospital ER's dry, raising our insurance rates by getting nothing but a slap on the wrist when driving without a license or insurance, etc. Why don't we deport these people the second they break the law? We are way too soft on them. If we did deport them or throw them in jail, the ACLU would step in and sue us for doing it. God Bless America.

America is probably already in trouble and I believe it is too late. We have too much diversity and multiculturalism in the form of a "tossed salad", our work ethic has gone down the drain (and been picked up by India and China, mind you), etc. We made our bed, and now we have to sleep in it. The culture that made America the way it is today over the past century is now the minority. But maybe I'm just a pessimistic Californian who loves living here, but at the same time, is absolutely sick of it.

Andy Gibson said...

I came across this LONG but interesting and thought provoking article about Islam and is related to this topic here, assimilation, etc. It focuses on the demographics of Europe, and how Muslims are essentially, slowly, for lack of a better term, taking over the world and we'll have to assimilate to their culture.
There are a lot of politics in it, but it is good nonetheless. I thought I'd share it.

Brianna Heldt said...

I think it's essential to filter thoughts on any issue through the grid of Jesus' words about the greatest commandments being loving God and loving others. God cares about everyday life, He cares about our politics and our views on this stuff. He cares ultimately about our hearts and how we feel towards others.

I've been thinking a bit lately about how Jesus would have me respond (beginning in my heart) towards immigrants, both legal and illegal. And being that I have two immigrant sons (neither are US citizens yet), and our family is racially mixed, some of these issues feel close to home.

I believe in obeying/enforcing the laws of the land. I believe our tax dollars should not automatically be spent on printing everything in several additional languages. That being said, Christ calls me to esteem others better than myself. Whatever my thoughts on immigration or assimilation, loving others has to come first.

As far as assimilation goes, I do worry about who decides what it means to be assimilated--is it listening to James Taylor and living in the suburbs with 1.2 kids and a dog? If we're honest with ourselves I think (sadly) we're all most comfortable around people who look, dress, believe and act like us. But God loves diversity (though He calls us to have unity with one another, and we are all one in Christ Jesus.)

I think my allegiance to God and my citizenship in His kingdom should always far outweigh my allegiance to and citizenship in the USA. I really don't believe our culture is objectively superior to any other--I can think of several wonderful qualities about our culture as well as many shameful ones; same for any other society, because society is comprised of people and people are sinful. If God has gifted America with more wealth than we know what to do with (and He has), let's share it so that we each have enough (2 Cor. 8:13-14). It all belongs to Him anyhow.

I hope and pray that as Christians we can lead the way in our society to love people and put them ahead of ourselves. As this whole immigration debate seems to be heating up, what an amazing opportunity for believers to humble themselves and reach out with the love of Christ. I pray He will soften my own prideful heart and help me more fully love my neighbors.

Jeannett Gibson said...

I agree with both Andy and Brianna, because I don't believe that their views are mutually exclusive. I think you can love someone, but it doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they do, and that you can't get mad or annoyed at them. So, while I agree that regardless of what we believe politically about the issue, that we need to remember to love them first and foremost.

With that said, I do believe that assimilation doesn't have to be a bad word. It doesn't mean that you have to dye your hair blonde, drive an SUV and have a goldfish and a white picket fence. The beauty of America is that we are a make up of a variety of wildly different people, with incredibly different backgrounds, yet, we can come together for the common good. American culture (and yes, I do believe there is one) is not something specific to your hair color, what language you speak, or what country you are originally from. America is defined by the entrepreneurial 'can do' spirit of people working together to achieve anything they put their hearts and minds to. I don't believe you have to stop being "German" to just means using your "Germanness" to the fullest extent while still being respectful of the larger entity. Assimilation does not mean you throw away and forget where you came from, so long as you remember and respect where you ARE.

Let our air fill with the smell of curry, cilantro, parmesean, and soy sauce, sounds of 1,000 tongues, and traditions from the "old country"...but do not forget that we are all here together, and frankly, if you don't like it, you can go back. (But leave your food here!)

(Besides, I live in the suburbs, and have TWO dogs, so hopefully it's not all THAT bad!) :)

Joe Pollon said...

Dennis Prager (a radio host) makes a great point about differentiating the micro from the macro. We can strongly oppose (or hate) the policy or agenda of a particular group without giving up our compassion or love for the individuals who belong to that group.

I may strongly oppose illegal immigration and tossed salad multiculturalism, but care for the man who risks his life and lives in the shadows to feed his children and give them a better life than they would have in Central America.

Andy Gibson said...

Came across this on another forum I frequent, actually the same one I found the link above in. Just thought I'd post it, you know, for fun.

"Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907"

I really wonder what he meant by "person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here."

Interesting, so where is the line between defining race, and dividing your allegiance? African-American, Mexican-American, Scottish-American, etc.?

Defining race is fine, but I think I may agree with Teddy that there can be no divided allegiance. Depends on the context in which he is supposed to be interpreted, I guess.