Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Reflections on my hometown, immigration, and assimilation

I had the great pleasure this past weekend of taking a group of Ashland University students--all members of our chapter of Phi Alpha Theta--to my hometown of Pittsburgh for a tour of some of the city’s historic sites. Not only did we have a first-class walking tour of the downtown area, and a not-quite-gourmet-but-still-tasty meal at the original Primanti Bros. restaurant, but we spent Saturday afternoon at the Senator John Heinz History Center, a tremendous museum dedicatd to Pittsburgh’s past. The Heinz Center is quite simply the best history museum that I’ve ever visited--although that might be nothing more than my hometown pride talking. The exhibit on sports history, complete with film of such legendary episodes as Bill Mazeroski’s amazing home run in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, and Franco Harris’s "Immaculate Reception" in the 1972 division championship against Oakland, chokes me up every time I see it (and I’m not even that huge of a sports fan).

But one can’t visit the Heinz Center without being reminded of the critical importance of immigration to the city’s development. Whether it be Russian Jews, Poles, Germans, Irish, Slovakians, Africans, or what have you, each group has left its indelible mark on Pittsburgh. What struck me most, however, was reading about the efforts made by Settlement Houses--most notably the Irene S. Kaufman House in the Hill District--to help immigrants to assimilate. Sure, these were run by liberals (progressives, to be more precise), who often advocated wrongheaded social policies, but the progressives of the early 20th century still believed in the basic goodness of America. They believed that in teaching recent immigrants English, and love for the flag and other American institutions, they were doing more than helping them to fit into a new society--they knew that they were making them into better people.

Why, then, aren’t there similar efforts being made today? Where are the Settlement Houses of 2007? We can all come up with reasons why, I suppose. Today’s liberals are far less convinced of America’s basic goodness, and therefore seem uncomfortable suggesting that it might be the duty of new immigrants to learn English and to respect American ideals. On the other hand, too many of those who oppose immigration do so on the demonstrably false grounds that people from Latin America and East Asia are incapable of being assimilated; why, then, launch a project that is doomed to failure? Of course, there is also the fact that so many Latin American immigrants are here illegally, and would therefore be hesitant to participate in a program that might reveal their status. Nevertheless I find it a sad state of affairs, and hope that any legislative effort to deal with the country’s immigration problems will take into consideration the vital task of assimilation.

Discussions - 23 Comments

On the other hand, too many of those who oppose immigration do so on the demonstrably false grounds that people from Latin America and East Asia are incapable of being assimilated; why, then, launch a project that is doomed to failu

I guess it depends on what you mean by "assimilation." Care to demonstrate what is so "demonstrably false" about the impression that America is a set of contending tribes rather than a fully-integrated society, particularly as it pertains to peoples who are of different colors and worldviews? And please, John, try to restrict yourself to LARGE flows of immigrants...any society can accommodate tiny minorities. Pro-immigration advocates are championing the integration of truly huge groups of aliens.

One of the principal means of assimilation should in theory be America's schools. Whatever about the adult immigrants, at least their chldren should be thought to respect the country they live in and to understand its culture.

Knowing what we all know about America's schools, what is the likelihood of this happening? The children of immigrants are much more likely to be told what an evil country this is and how it discriminates against them. As long as that is the case the chance of assimilation occuring is nil.

By way of illustrating the point, here is a link to some of the "poetry" of Nikki Giovianni, a professor at VT and a teacher to the killer Cho. Scroll down to see the work titled "The True Import Of Present Dialogue". Our children, immigrant and non-immigrant alike, are being taught to hate.

A sharp distinction needs to be made between muslim immigration and all others.

Islam is unlike anything that any immigration group ever brought with it to the West, as part of their mental baggage.

There is too much imprecision in the immigration debate. Whenever speaking of muslim immigration, you should specify as much. If not, that too, should be specified. So which specific countries and nationalities were you referring to when you used "East Asian?" And what specific religion do these "East Asians" profess? Was that term meant to include muslims, or exclude them?

An "East Asian" who is Buddhist or Christian is one thing. An "East Asian" who is muslim is quite another. And our immigration policy needs to take cognizance of that rather commonsensical observation.

This all reminds me of an economist joke.

A physicist, a chemist and an economist are stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The physicist says, "Lets smash the can open with a rock." The chemist says, "Let’s build a fire and heat the can first." The economist says, "Lets assume that we have a can-opener..."

The assumption here seems to be, "Lets assume we have a functional assimilation system which can efficiently transform people from anywhere in the world into good Americans."

We don't have such a system. We have the opposite of such a system. We have a system which takes native Americans from prosperous middle class homes and convinces them that they live in an unjust society. Let's start living in the real world, not one of our imagination.

Don't you know, John? The "market" will take care of it!

Something to consider. The Plains states and the South West rely for water on aquifers, basically underground lakes. These aquifers are being drained faster than they are being replenished. Here is a link.

America has a population at present of 300 million people. This is projected to grow to 450 million by mid-century, due almost entirely to immigration.

Those extra 150 million people will require water, from somewhere. They will require gasoline, from somewhere. They will require food, which will require farmland. These things do not exist in limitless abundance. The best farmland in the country is steadily being taken over by urban development. They will require schools and hospitals and roads and other services. Since they will be poorer than the average American these things will have to be provided for them by those who are better off. That's the way the tax code works.

There is far too much gauzy sentimentality here surrounding immigration. I don't know if this is peoples natural state of mind or if its simply a way of deflecting awkard quesions. But this is the "Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs" and the people writing here are academics. Could we have a little less emoting and a little more thought, please?

I guess right-thinking white Americans better stop having kids, then. Or do brown people use more water/gasoline/food than white people do?

I'm surprised you are smart enough to turn on the computer. Or did your mom do it for you?

John, the guy's using a low-wattage brain...it's all the rage these days among global warming types. Expect to see a lot more of it as we approach 2008, particularly if Al Gore runs.

I'd like to see John respond to his point. If he's going to start channeling Paul Ehrlich's doomsday stuff, shouldn't it apply to any form of population growth, and not just that from immigration?

Why would they want to assimilate? At least for European immigrants, they can claim as part of their ancestral tradition learning Greek and Latin, reading Shakespeare, Aristotle, Jean Raspail, St. Augustine, etc. But this is not part of the ancestral tradition of the third-world invaders. Their ancestral tradition is different, and as Burke said, it is one's ancestral tradition that should guide him. And even the Mexicans. Mind you, except for a very small upper class of European blood, most Mexicans are either Amerindian or Mestizos (mostly Amerindian with a few drops of Spaniard blood).

Dan: Regarding Muslim immigration, they don't need to immigrate. They are converting here. Christian Science Monitor had a article a while back showing that in the past couple years alone over 200,000 Hispanics in the U.S. have converted to Islam, and this number is expected to increase exponentially.

Well? I seriously want to know. If we're in danger of running out of all this stuff, like John claims, then shouldn't we, in addition to closing the borders, impose a one child rule like they have in China?

No need to, Don. If we eliminated immigration, our population growth would slow way down. Besides, the demand side of immigration isn't the major concern, at least for me.

Don Gerlach


Which "point" of Mr Hate would you like me to respond to?

This one: "do brown people use more water/gasoline/food than white people do?" You're rehashing Paul Ehrlich's old discredited claims about overpopulation. Why does it matter whether the increase comes from immigration or births by white people?

Since I never claimed, or even implied, that "brown people use more water/gasoline/food than white people do", I'm at a loss to understand why you want me to respond to this.

Nor am I "rehashing Paul Ehrlich's old discredited claims about overpopulation", whatever that means.

If you want to take issue with something I have said, go ahead. Reading what I wrote might be a good start.

Well, "Brown people" do not like Western Civilization for starters. Just look at "Catholicism" in Mexico. There is a widespread movement demanding that all "European elements" be removed from the liturgy and replaced with Aztlan elements. As a true patriot, I oppose the third-world invasion and conquest of the West. As Jean Raspail said in Camp of the Saints, "the best conservative novel ever written": We can oppose this deadly invasion, or watch our people and civilization fall.

Illegitimate Births Among Immigrants -

Study: Overall Rate Now Nearly the Same as Natives, Hispanic Rate Higher

WASHINGTON (April 24, 2007) – President Bush and others argue that immigrants have a stronger commitment to traditional family values than do native-born Americans. However, a new analysis of birth records by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that about one-third of births to both immigrants and natives are now to unmarried parents. Illegitimate children are at higher risk for social problems, and the risk may be even greater for those with immigrant parents because they need strong families to adjust to life in America.

http://conservativetimes.org/?p=445

Why does it matter whether the increase comes from immigration or births by white people?

Please point for me where I said that it matters whether the increase comes from immigration or births by white people.

Let's cut the crap, John. In arguing against continued immigration, you talked about the demands of 150 million people for food, gasoline, water, etc., etc. You implied that there wouldn't be enough of those things to go around, and that's exactly what Ehrlich said back in the 1960s. He was wrong then(for reasons Julian Simon made clear), and you're wrong now. If you think you're right, though, you should be advocating population control in general, not just an end to immigration. If you want to oppose immigration, that's fine, but don't use Ehrlich's arguments about overpopulation to do it.

I would not respond to the race baiting either. John's point was never about "brown people"...

I'm sure ripping these strawmen to shreds is very emotionaly satisfying to you, but its not very productive.

Since you have trouble reading I'll repeat what I said. I said that "The Plains states and the South West rely for water on aquifers, basically underground lakes. These aquifers are being drained faster than they are being replenished." This is true or false. If you think its false, tell me why.

I said that "America has a population at present of 300 million people. This is projected to grow to 450 million by mid-century, due almost entirely to immigration." Again, if you disagree, explain why.

I said that "Those extra 150 million people will require water, from somewhere. They will require gasoline, from somewhere. They will require food, which will require farmland." If you disagree with any of these points, explain yourself.

I said that "They will require schools and hospitals and roads and other services. Since they will be poorer than the average American these things will have to be provided for them by those who are better off. That's the way the tax code works." If you disagree, explain why.


In short, if you have an argument to make then I suggest you try to make it. I'm not interested in living in your fantasy scenario where I'm Erlich and you are Simon.

I also asked you where I ever said that it matters whether the increase comes from immigration or births by white people. You threw that out there. Either back it up or retract it.

Let's cut the crap, John.

I'm waiting patiently for you to make any sort of argument which will expose anything I have said as being "crap". Given your display of intellectual sophistication so far I imagine I'll have a long wait.

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