Unassimilated Immigration: Dystopia Now!

Watching the latest wave of refugees fleeing to Europe (and soon the U.S.) from the Middle East and parts of Africa, I am reminded of Jean Raspail’s 1973 apocalyptic novel, The Camp of the Saints.  (Others have had the same recollection.)  The novel was translated into English in 1975.  It was reissued in the U.S. in 1994 -- and is still in print -- and returned to the bestseller list in 2011.  (After events this summer, it may do so again.)

Although the novel’s specifics differ from events in 2015, Raspail’s main thesis -- Europe and the U.S. are inundated by inassimilable illegal immigrants -- is being hauntingly reprised by contemporary developments.  Most of Raspail’s novel dealt with illegal aliens’ occupation of the French Riviera.  It begins, however, when Belgium offers to take in East Indian infants.  Subsequently, one of the British Queen’s sons is forced to marry a Pakistani woman, and New York City’s mayor must share Gracie Mansion with people from Harlem.  At the novel’s end, Switzerland -- the lone European holdout against inundation by inassimilable aliens -- is shamed into acquiescing.

Reaction to Raspail’s novel has divided according to reviewers’ ideological proclivities.  Leftists -- such as the Southern Poverty Law Center -- and even centrists -- such as Linda Chavez -- have dismissed it as racist.  Conservatives -- such as William F. Buckley, Jr. and Chilton Williamson -- have praised it.

Many years after it appeared, Raspail’s novel continued to attract attention from publications such as The Atlantic Monthly (1994) and writers such as Lionel Shriver (2002).  Given America’s long-standing problem with undocumented aliens and Europe’s vexatious difficulties following a new influx of illegal aliens, Raspail’s warnings seem especially prescient.  (Several European nations -- such as France, Holland, Belgium, and Sweden -- are already dealing with difficulties posed by inassimilable aliens, so the latest wave only adds to the problems Raspail predicted.)

Critical to understanding both Raspail’s novel and the potential problems inassimilable aliens pose to western culture -- especially Europe and the U.S. -- is the notion of assimilation.  A standard dictionary definition of assimilation is:  “the process by which a person or persons acquire the social and psychological characteristics of a group.”

That definition -- albeit accurate -- only scratches the surface of what assimilation entails.  Assimilation means many things, of course, but the following seem to be its key features. 

First, those who wish to assimilate to a different nation should learn that country’s dominant language.  Unless one speaks and reads a nation’s foremost language, there is no hope for integration into that society.   (It may take a generation or so before foreign accents disappear, but even those who speak only broken English -- to focus on the U.S. as an example -- have at least a sense of their new society’s warp and woof.)

In the United States today, many Hispanic immigrants -- legal or otherwise -- refuse to learn English and retain their native tongue, a practice made easier by the ready availability of Spanish-speaking media, English-as-a-second-language instruction in schools, and a host of other bilingual practices.  Failure of so many to learn English means, above all, that no matter how long Hispanic immigrants have lived in the U.S., they remain perpetual outsiders, doomed to life at the bottom of American society.

(Failure to learn English does not pose as great a problem for most Muslims living in America. As Mark Steyn has noted, Muslims have other issues making them inassimilable.)

Another manifestation of assimilation is learning (and living) the adopted country’s culture, particularly its dominant values and manners.  Contrary to leftists’ constant bleats, multiculturalism is not a strength.  It is a sign that a nation, or at least its ruling class, is committing suicide.

In 2007, Robert Putnam -- author of Bowling Alone (2000) -- published an article, “E Pluribus Unum:  Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century,” which showed that the more diverse a community is -- in terms of the number of immigrants, ethnicity, etc. -- the less trust members have in others, including the political system, and even themselves.

Although, Putnam -- perhaps bowing toward political correctness -- claimed that previous immigrants were eventually assimilated and then contributed to America’s sense of community, the country’s experience with (mostly legal) immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries occurred before elites lost belief in themselves and the U.S.  Today, our ruling class -- i.e., most politicos and the chattering classes -- lacking belief in the country’s exceptionalism and their own rectitude, makes virtually no effort to assimilate recent immigrants (legal or otherwise).

Once-upon-a-time, (mostly legal) immigrants were expected to learn America’s history, to honor its heroic personalities and observe its official holidays.  Today, not only is our history not taught (to immigrants or to natural born Americans), newly naturalized citizens aren’t required to take an oath of loyalty to the United States.

Unable to speak the dominant language, no knowledge of their new country’s past, no sense of loyalty to the same, no assimilation.  If you want to see the consequences of lack of assimilation, read about conditions in France’s banlieues, i.e., suburbs dominated by unassimilated Muslims who have made them no go zones where the police do not intrude.  Most, if not all, of the banlieues are governed by Sharia, not French law.

Still another feature of assimilation is acceptance and obedience of the new country’s laws. This also means acknowledging the legitimacy of “new” country’s legal system.

When people arrive as illegal immigrants, their very act of entering the country entails breaking the immigration laws.  As scofflaws from the outset, it is not surprising that a disproportionate share of illegal aliens habitually runs afoul of the law.  Juan Francisco Lopez, the illegal Mexican alien who murdered Kate Steinle in San Francisco last July, for example, had repeatedly been deported only to return, was deeply into drugs, and had a long rap sheet typical of a repeat offender. 

When Lopez was arrested, he told authorities that he had come to San Francisco because it was a sanctuary city.   The very existence of hundreds of sanctuary cities in the U.S. lends credence to the contention that some of the ruling class have lost belief in America’s righteousness.

A new Pew Research Center report sheds interesting light on patterns of immigration to the U.S. and ignores critical facts.  Ann Brown, the report’s author, projects immigrants will be 17.7% of America’s population by 2065.  By then, Asians will comprise 14% of the country’s population, Hispanics will make up 24%, Blacks, 13%, and Whites, 46%. 

Forty-seven percent of immigrants came from Latin America in 2000; 34% came from Mexico alone.  By 2011, Asians made up the largest percentage of immigrants to the U.S., a trend projected to continue.

Missing from Brown’s report is any information about illegal immigrants, or trends in assimilation.

In short, America’s situation vis-à-vis immigrants, is probably a lot worse than she lets on.

In 1965, leftists, led by Ted Kennedy, changed U.S. immigration law, blithely assuring people the new policy would have no significant effect on America’s population.  Today, unless changes are made, and soon, we will find that Kennedy and his ilk were wrong, and Raspail was right.