The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

As I was Saying: Assimilation Policy....Bad

In my last post, I was going on about how assimilation is a process that cannot be crafted into a workable policy by starry-eyed bureaucrats. And if you pick up tomorrow's edition of The Hill (a Washington daily about the shenanigans in Congress) you will see more of the same. Not by yours truly but courtesy of Oxford Analytica. Under the headline "Assimilation Policies Carry Risks" the anonymous OA writes:

"The integration (assimilation) models currently utilized in these (EU) states have a variety of structures, but they share some key similarities that may impede their effectiveness.

Integration processes often reflect one-way integration, in which the immigrant is expected to take the initiative to accomplish the level of integration that the state prescribes. However, in practice integration occurs as a two-way process: the state changes along with the immigrants it accepts.

However, this two-way process also can produce a backlash. Majority populations frequently are unhappy with the idea of their national culture changing. It is for this reason that integration programs are often portrayed by states as one-way processes, and why the majority population appears to change less quickly than a country’s immigrants..."

Please read the entire piece, click here

This is why I usually lambaste European countries: they created a problem, i.e. lack of assimilation; and are now selling a toxic concoction, i.e. bad "policy", as some kind of panacea. For whatever reason, they never seem recognize the fundamental differences between the Swedens and Germanys of say, 1906 and 2006. I mean, assimilate to what? To what the minorities are already part of? Seems redundant, no? Or to a subjective version of e.g. Germany that, at best, only existed in the past?

To me, it seems that it is the majority population, and at least many politicians, who are the ones who need to get on the assimilation train. Folks, it left Trans Central some three to four decades ago....

Backlash risks occuring by stigmatizing those suddenly expected to assimilate overnight, preferably by becoming as Western (?!) as possible. Any little difference previously seen as normal or even "exotic" could now be seen by the majority as evidence of lack of assimilation. And the backlash will be reinforced when the desired results of these misguided intentions are not forthcoming.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention that the OA piece also addresses the contrast between the U.S. and European approaches to assimilation:

" The state may either proactively or passively seek the successful integration of immigrants. For example, the United States has no formal immigrant-integration policy, other than a citizenship test requiring the demonstration of basic English language skills and knowledge of U.S. history.

Evidence suggests that integration is more successful when governments make education programs accessible and provide individualized integration plans.

The recent rise in perceptions of insecurity and deep social divides between immigrant and existing populations are prompting immigrant integration reform in most European states.

Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and parts of Belgium now all mandate integration....

Assimilation policies place the impetus on immigrants, asking them in essence to change their identity. However, making assimilation mandatory may actually impede the integration process it is designed to facilitate.

Indeed, integration is not achieved merely by labor-market and community participation; it also requires that the immigrant identify with and have loyalty to his new country. Mandating integration compels a speed of assimilation which may impede the developments of loyalty."

Mandating assimilation!!!! - what would Voltaire, Swift, Twain, Mencken, Wilde, Colbert et. al. write about such a Wonderlandesque concept? I laugh at that thought while crying about the rest of this sorry saga.


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