Multiculturalism is no Threat

I have confidence in America. We are overcoming the PC view of tolerance and we will make Americans of immigrants as we always have. It just is not possible to maintain a multi-cultural society the way the PC guys advocate. You can have a dominant culture that tolerates the manifestations of some others. That’s it and this is nothing new for America.

In 1910 there were more immigrants as a percentage of the population. As today, native born Americans worried. Let me assure those that oppose a multicultural America that they have nothing to worry about. And I can caution the proponents that they can't achieve their goal. The very diversity of it all ensures Americanization.

Most people can handle two cultures. If an American marries an immigrant, there is a chance for their children to grow up in a bi-cultural home. We all have seen this. But if immigrants from two different places marry, it becomes much more complicated. What language and culture does the Chinese-Spanish couple teach their children? What happens when their children date another mixed culture kid? The permutations grow exponentially. So everyone defaults to the easiest solution and the default option (what happened in the past) is American. I see this phenomenon with my kids' friends. We live in a diverse neighborhood. My kids have Arab, Korean, Chinese, German and Indian friends (among others). When they all get together, the only language they can use is English and they are developing a common culture that will someday be called American.

(Some immigrants will isolate themselves in ethnic enclaves and sentence themselves and their progeny to poverty, but that is not multiculturalism; just stupid.)

Language is an interesting challenge. I have lived in various countries and at one time spoke four languages fluently, but never at the same time. It is too hard. A person with normal language talent just can't concurrently keep more than two languages fluent. Some people can't learn even one other language. (I don't count being able to ask for a bathroom or directions to the train station as language proficient.) There are two kinds of people who casually advocate people learn multiple languages: those who have unusual language talent and those who have never tried to function at a high level in another language.

Now my Euro readers are going to write in and tell me that they have friends who can speak several languages. So do I. Some people can. My guess is that it is about 25% of the population, not a small number, but not a majority and most people can't. And most Europeans can't. They speak English and their own language. They speak a third language much less well or not at all.

Anyway, what this means is that bilingual or bicultural is possible. Multicultural is not. And in the U.S. we have too much diversity for anyone reasonably to learn. So we will have "American" multiculturalism. It will be a lot like what our grandparents grew up with if they lived in a immigrant big city. And when the process is all done, we will have Americans.

Posted by Jack at July 12, 2005 10:59 PM