Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Most Persuasive Case

from Prof. Amy Chua in today's Washington Post, The Right Road to America?.

Chua examines both sides of the immigration debate and argues for both tolerance and toughness. Read the whole thing, including her prescriptions.
The United States is in no danger of imminent disintegration. But this is because it has been so successful, at least since the Civil War, in forging a national identity strong enough to hold together its widely divergent communities. We should not take this unifying identity for granted.
If there is any value to identity politics, Chua's analysis suggests (indirectly), it lies in America's historic success in "forging an ethnically and religiously neutral national identity" as a means to national cohesion amidst ethnic and religious diversity instead of a " 'white, Christian' identity and what Huntington calls its Anglo-Saxon, Protestant 'core values' ."

Yet, she suggests,
America's glue can be subverted by too much tolerance. Immigration advocates are too often guilty of an uncritical political correctness that avoids hard questions about national identity and imposes no obligations on immigrants. For these well-meaning idealists, there is no such thing as too much diversity.

The right thing for the United States to do -- and the best way to keep Americans in favor of immigration -- is to take national identity seriously while maintaining our heritage as a land of opportunity. U.S. immigration policy should be tolerant but also tough.

Like all Americans, immigrants have a responsibility to contribute to the social fabric. It's up to each immigrant community to fight off an enclave mentality and give back to their new country. It's not healthy for Chinese to hire only Chinese, or Koreans only Koreans. By contrast, the free health clinic set up by Muslim Americans in Los Angeles -- serving the entire poor community -- is a model to emulate. Immigrants are integrated at the moment when they realize that their success is inextricably intertwined with everyone else's. (emphasis mine)
And that's true for each of us.

Just last night we were discussing the merits of mandatory national service for keeping the country out of wars of choice instigated by national leaders without buy-in by the citizenry. Chua's observations suggest its value as "cultural and political glue" as well.

No comments: