And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, "Editor Emeritus"

... that from Washington, D.C., through Des Moines, to our local boards of officials, it seems that more and more, everything is either black or white, my way or your way.

Sometimes, I think, that is not so much a difference of opinions, as it is a failure to define the terms of the argument. An ultra-conservative northwest Iowa congressman was soundly criticized recently for saying that he felt diversity was over emphasized, and that he favored assimilation.

As though the two things were direct opposites.

I, for one, favor both.

The successful immigration policy of the United States, in the latter half of the 1800s in particular, welcomed newcomers, with the hope that they would assimilate and eventually become citizens. And while there were Irish or German or Norwegian sectors in large cities and rural areas, there was enough interaction between them and earlier residents, that assimilation eventually came.

What seems to make that different from what is taking place today is that the newcomers seem to prefer living and staying within their own enclaves. In those olden days, while some continued to live in close proximity to others of like background, and some even spoke the “old” language in their homes, they were forced by economic and social circumstances to interact a great deal with others. In schools or places of business, it was required.

But today, European nations paint a picture in which that does not happen. Instead, the Balkanization of Great Britain, France, Belgium, and Sweden has not boded well for either newcomers or prior residents.

And sadly, it seems to be a more common happening in the United States. I remember reading about one woman, in the country illegally for 18 years, who had to have a translator, because she spoke not one word of conversational English!

The Judeo-Christian culture of nations such as ours has proven to be the most successful culture. Even with its failures, that culture produces a healthier, wealthier, and more comfortable living possibility for all its citizens.

Can anyone argue it is better than that of, say, North Korea? In some cultures, women have no rights. In some, adulterers and homosexuals are killed upon discovery. And even in the more benign cultures, there is something about the American way of life which beckons many of them.

Qualified immigrants should be welcome to join us, but not to come here and live apart from the rest of us.

Diversity and assimilation are both good.


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