Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Salad Bowl Won't Assimilate


A few months ago I wrote a post entitled A Resilient Nation. The basic theme of the post was that the United States most stable asset was it's values. Those values came by the ability to assimilate almost everyone, regardless of their origin and creed, into having shared core values that are the basis for our country being successful. Those values are rooted in education, and trust in the law to protect individual rights.

An article by Lawrence Harrison in the Christian Science Monitor gave me pause to consider. Entitled The End of Multiculturalism, Harrison points out that the United States must retain it's title of a melting pot in order to remain vibrant. He writes:

Culture isn't about genes or race; it's about values, beliefs, and attitudes. Culture matters because it influences a society's receptivity to democracy, justice, entrepreneurship, and free-market institutions.........

He Adds:

A key component of a successful democratic transition is trust, a particularly important cultural factor for social justice and prosperity. Trust in others reduces the cost of economic transactions, and democratic stability depends on it.

Harrison goes on to point out that the recent explosion in uncontrolled immigration and the over emphasis on multiculturalism has led to the United States becoming a salad bowl of individual parts, each with it's own flavor and unable to mix. His recommendations are:

We must calibrate the flow of immigrants into the US to the needs of the economy, mindful that immigration has adversely affected low-income American citizens, disproportionately African-American and Hispanic, as Barbara Jordan stressed as chair of the 1990s Immigration Reform Commission. But the flow must also be calibrated to the country's capacity to assure acculturation of the immigrants.......

As with immigration flows of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an extensive program of activities designed to facilitate acculturation, including mastery of English, should be mounted.

Lawrence Harrison's article seem to overlook the fact that many others who immigrate here seem to assimilate quite well. These people are from the countries across the planet who have come here, brought their beliefs and traditions, and assimilated by learning the language and the culture. I have written about them several times on this blog.

On a supportive note, his article calls attention to many of the things that John Kao's Innovation Nation here and Frans Johansson 's Medici Effect write, are required for the United States to retain it's innovative position in the World.

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