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The French Get Patriotic

As a typical conservative, I'm rather fond of patriotism and generally dissent from the "blame Amerikkka" crowd. And while I subscribe to a strain of American exceptionalism, I find patriotism in those of other nations to be highly commendable. In particular, I think Europeans are often lacking in national pride - leading to the sort of cultural drift currently observed in many northern European countries.

On the other hand, the last time France took a stab at patriotic nationalism, they ended up with the Reign of Terror. So, while I commend the latest attempt by the French to introduce substantive prerequisites to French naturalization, I do so with slight hesitation. According to France 24:

Foreigners seeking French nationality face tougher requirements as of January 1, when new rules drawn up by Interior Minister Claude Guéant come into force.

Candidates will be tested on French culture and history, and will have to prove their French language skills are equivalent to those of a 15-year-old mother tongue speaker. They will also be required to sign a new charter establishing their rights and responsibilities.

"Becoming French is not a mere administrative step. It is a decision that requires a lot of thought", reads the charter, drafted by France's High Council for Integration (HCI). 

Residing in Asia, I'm accustomed to rather strict naturalization laws. Viewing nationality as primarily a matter of blood, many Asian countries take a dim view of non-ethnic naturalization (excepting mixed-marriages) and simply forbid dual-citizenship. The thin-skinned may sense a pervasive racism in such sentiments, but there is an undeniable and obvious truth in the assertion that I, for example, am simply not Asian.  

America, of course, occupies the opposite end of the spectrum and is rather exceptional with regard to citizenship. We alone in the world are truly a nation of immigrants and boast no purely ethnic component to citizenship. History has rarely witnessed such a national condition, and never upon so broad a scale. We are truly unique.   

Immigration has never been my hot-button issue. Illegal immigration is certainly objectionable, but I can't passionately condemn something that I might very well attempt myself (for the safety and prosperity of my family) were I born into radically different circumstances. I see American citizenship as a privilege which should be available to those possessed of a certain American patriotism and willingness to adopt American culture (i.e., our language and basic civil and moral virtues). Immigration and citizenship are practical matters to me, best determined by balancing national interest with the circumstance of the applicant.

Yet America's immigration discussion generally encompasses Mexicans and the occasional Latin American. France is facing culture-altering waves of Muslim immigrants who have no will to adopt Western culture.

Guéant, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, described the [naturalization] process as "a solemn occasion between the host nation and the applicant", adding that migrants should be integrated through language and "an adherence to the principals, values and symbols of our democracy". He stressed the importance of the secular state and equality between women and men: rhetoric perceived largely as a snipe at Muslim applicants, who make up the majority of the 100,000 new French citizens admitted each year.

France's interior minister has made it clear that immigrants who refuse to "assimilate" into French society should be denied French citizenship.

Earlier this year, Guéant intervened personally to ensure an Algerian-born man living in France was denied French nationality because of his "degrading attitude" to his French wife.

That followed an earlier push by France's former Immigration Minister Eric Besson to revise existing laws in order to strip polygamists of their acquired citizenship.

France is correct in all of this. While Sarkozy is accused of "pandering to the right," he has a responsibility to uphold the basic laws and ethics of France. There is always a danger of such sentiments degrading into ethnic, religious or other forms of prejudice, but the alternate extreme of cultural abandonment is equally perilous. Nations must stand for something, and France is finally standing for something worthwhile.

Categories > Race

Discussions - 6 Comments

Yea, "nation of immigrants," etc. I'm about as tired of that phrase as the Native Americans must be. The fact is that the original settlers came to this country to create something NEW, not as a depot for the world's dispossessed. Our particular demographic history is no compelling reason to continue essentially out-of-control immigration, both legal and illegal. With the possible exception of Canada, no other developed country allows so many people in on a yearly basis. Now, the country is full (300 million and counting), our cities are jammed, and our politics are at the breaking point. Enough. All you "establishment" GOP-types who are so very sensitive to charges of "racism" (and yes, I'm talking to you NLT folk) had better start asking yourself what kind of country you want your children and grandchildren to grow up in. Do you want them to grow up with Western values under a system where they can control their own futures or not? California is what we are becoming, so wake up.

This seems rather relevant. Nice sample size (40K+) for the research, too.

"PROBLEM: Previous research has shown that national pride makes people feel good about their own lives. But does what you're proud of matter too?

METHODOLOGY: Tim Reeskens, a sociologist from Catholic University in Belgium, and Matthew Wright, a political scientist at American University, categorized national pride into "ethnic nationalism," which is tied to ancestry and religious beliefs, and "civic nationalism," which prioritizes respect for a country's institutions and laws.

They analyzed the responses of 40,677 people from 31 countries to questions that related to happiness and national pride in the 2008 wave of the European Values Study, and controlled for various demographic variables, including gender, work status, and per capita GDP.

RESULTS: Though national pride correlates with personal well-being, civic nationalists were generally the happiest. The joy of even the proudest ethnic nationalists barely surpassed that of people with the least civic pride.

CONCLUSION: Nationalism makes people feel good. But the kind that makes citizens the happiest is rooted in respect for policies and institutions, not race or religion."

From here (a further link to the full study within):

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/study-of-the-day-the-national-pride-that-brings-happiness/250636/


Redwald:

"The fact is that the original settlers came to this country to create something NEW, not as a depot for the world's dispossessed."

I bet the Statue of Liberty plaque with the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus really grinds your gears, eh?

"The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, 1883


Alternate history: Plaque by "Redwald" installed at Statue of Liberty today, which reads:

"Screw you, I got mine! Go home, no vacancy!"

The plaque on the SofL is NOT the Constitution, nor was such the original intent of the Founders. If you'll look at your history, even such notables as Ben Franklin were concerned about unbalanced immigration (Franklin was concerned about the "massive" German immigration and the language our nation would speak).

You don't have to be a bigot or jingoist to be concerned about this issue, Scanlon. Even the Sierra Club is concerned about it. To cite more research, once the massive flows stop the "natives" become less concerned, assimilation improves, and racial/ethnic tensions decrease. Less migration would be good for all concerned (accept the would-be immigrants, who must wait). Oh, and not as good for exploiting employers AND the Democrat Party.

"The plaque on the SofL is NOT the Constitution, nor was such the original intent of the Founders."

Yes, well, the Founders thought it was okay to consider certain people more like property and treating them as just 60% human, too.

Redwald, I'm guessing that you argue about parking tickets based on what (you think) the Founding Fathers intended.

The Founders did what they had to do to start the country, and at the time that meant allowing some people to be thought of as property. They also didn't allow women to vote - want to disrespect them for that as well?

Putting aside your lame snarkitude, the point is that there is nothing in our government design (nor in our cultural DNA for that matter) which compels us to continue these insane immigration policies.

If there WERE something "in our government design (or in our cultural DNA for that matter) which [WOULD] compel us to continue these insane immigration policies" - would you think that we should diverge from the Founder's intentions?

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