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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Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's the Process, Stupid!


Some may think I was a little harsh on Germany in my last post. At the very least, I might have been more succinct. But there are just so gosh darn many angles to cover...

Accordingly, here's a link to the NYT's reporting on the new naturalization procedures for those wishing to become German nationals. I think Ms. Dempsey gets it right when she writes:

"In a decision that reflects the widespread debate toward the European Union's immigrant population, the interior ministers of Germany's 16 states Friday agreed for the first time to a package of measures aimed at setting new guidelines for obtaining citizenship.
The decision, made during a special two-day meeting in Bavaria, is a major change for a country long hesitant of accepting that there was a need for an integration policy despite Germany's 6.7 million immigrants make up nearly 9 percent of the country's population..."
(click here to read the entire piece)

She does a good job of tying it into the general immigration debate in Europe ( for more Swamp reporting click here, here and here), seeing both similarities and differences among the EU states, not to speak of non-EU countries like Norway and Switzerland.

But I have to raise at least some doubt regarding the term "integration policy". This expression raises the hope that the decades-long neglect of immigration and immigrants can somehow be resolved by policy, with a little social engineering. She is right in using the term since it's all the rage in Europe. But I would not call this "policy".

Unsurprisingly, this hoop-la is about creating the impression that politicians have acted, that they have done something that will then lead to a concrete result. And now it's laurel resting time. Wrong. Assimilation (integration is just another faux term for the same thing) is not about policy, it's about process. And as such it takes time and requires patience. Having a normal labor market that allows job creation and permitting, even encouraging, people to become citizens can facilitate the assimilation process. But it cannot be made to happen.

Back in the olden days, i.e. until very recently in all Western countries, there were 'assimilation policies': people were told to do this and become that. These policies succeeded only in their cruelty, stupidity and inhumanity, and failed in every other regard, especially in creating citizens out of immigrants. Let's hope the good folks of Europe know their own history.

But what do you know, here's a positive note to sign off on! On Tuesday as I was half-way across the Atlantic, new German citizens were being sworn in near my Kreuzberg home. In the neighboring area of Neukölln - a rather impoverished working class part of the former West Berlin with an interesting history of immigration, read the Wikipedia link - 54 immigrants from 15 different countries became Germans.

Becoming German. Neukölln, 9th May 2006.

Forget that the headlines were the usual moronic ones, e.g. on the 24-hour news channel N24 "Naturalization in Multicultistan: The Federal German Eagle and the Half Crescent". Neukölln is a part of Germany last time I checked. According to N24´s reporter Annette Bräunlein, 18-year old Ahmet Ügrenci "hid his (Muslim) half crescent medaillon" before the ceremony. Whatever, Anette....maybe you should hide your prejudice instead.

Anyway, Ahmet is now German. Too bad I missed it, after they all sang the national anthem there was a little party in the City Hall! Congrats, dude!

jo

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