A friend posted about immigrant integration in our country, agreeing with a particularly odious message from author Elizabeth Moon. My (lightly edited) response was:
We are a country entirely made up of individuals that did not integrate. We are an entire nation of not-fully-integrated foreigners. Ignore, for a moment, the fact that we're not members of a native tribe speaking Iroquois or Mohawk. Concentrate, instead, on the laughable nature of integration as you enjoy your won-ton soup, spaghetti with meatballs, taco bell, corned beef and cabbage, schnitzel, salted licorice, escargot, sushi, or pretty much any food that doesn't involve red beans and rice.
Consider the unsettling notion that we are, culturally, mutts. What makes us pretty fucking awesome is that we, culturally, are an amalgam of whoever shows up and brings something new combined with all of the new from the people who showed up before. We keep what we like, we discard the rest.
Oh, but make no mistake, this doesn't happen instantly. It takes time. It takes dedication by those individuals who can keep fixed in their minds what the entire purpose of this country happens to be; the notion on which this nation is predicated. A notion of immigration without the need to assimilate.
So, when in America, do as Americans do; which, at our best, is accept that others are different and embrace that difference for all of the flavor that it adds to our culture…and at our worst is crush everything that is different based on sexual preference, skin color, language, religious beliefs, etc.
On a final note: one of the points of "integration" that Elizabeth Moon calls for is at its core a religious one. She says:Not only were the attackers Islamic--and not only did the Islamic world in general show indecent glee about the attack, but this was only the last of many attacks on citizens and installations of this country which Islamic groups proudly claimed credit for.
So the thing they are supposed to shut up and integrate? Their religion. Join one of the "American" religions, I suppose (and possibly become less brown) and one can be "integrated" enough for Moon to consider them citizens.
I cannot say no fast enough or hard enough.
Please, do me one favor. Put yourself in the place of an American—a second generation Iranian, Muslim immigrant—English is your first language, you grew up with the same television, the same culture, the same concepts of what it means to be American…but you are Muslim and eat food traditional to your culture most nights in your home. Adopt that role, and re-read Moon's post.
Moon's post, for those who might wish to participate in this exercise, is here.
To expand on this thought, a little (and please recognize that the remainder of this missive is not, in fact, directed in any way to the original poster as the above message was, but instead expanding in Jer-rant fashion to related things that piss me off); I find the current social climate of the world profoundly uncomfortable. I am not easy to make feel awkward, but we live in an awkward time. We have been a nation sufficiently long that we have forgotten our roots entirely; not because our roots are so far in the past, but because we are a culture that reinvents itself with such rapidity that it is virtually impossible for the things that are important to those members of two generations past to impress those currently carrying the weight of civilization. So it manages to be entirely unsurprising that people whose ancestry got here by way of a "W.O.P." stamp on their paperwork don't have the institutional memory put themselves in the place of today's immigrant. Those whose genealogical forbearers were called 'micks' and imprisoned for even minor offenses have, of course, forgotten what it is like to be the new kid on the block; without even brown skin or a foreign language to sour the deal—merely an oft impenetrable accent. Now, generations later, they call for immediate integration (presumably from a cell phone as they drive past Chinatown or Little Italy.) Awkward.
More awkward still is the perversion of actual historical fact that allows some members of our culture to revise history in favor of a version that includes a foundation in Christianity or good Christian values despite the blatantly apparent, grade-school obvious fact that our forefathers—our immigrant patient-zeros—were fleeing persecution that would dictate their religious choice. No, our roots are not found in Christianity, but in common sense and decency (something in which Tea Party participants lack a basic understanding.)
So consider the sophistry of Moon cautioning the Muslim and Arab worlds (which she continually, and in racist fashion, conflates as being one and the same) about the degree of "forbearance" they have been shown, as if a mother cautioning her child about her waning tolerance. Tolerance, if any were to be sought, should be asked of the immigrants (whether they be of middle-eastern descent or by way of Mexico) for our manifold and continual transgressions against them which fly in the face of our promise to the world—a promise to take in the outcast and the downtrodden and make them our own…as is…the way we are. You know, like it says on the Statue of Liberty. You know, like how we got here.
So, I'd like to close with this: my tolerance for each of you racists, bigots, and petulant children has reached its end. Your xenophobia, your pseudo-Christian hate, it is no longer welcome. If you feel we should close our borders, you should feel free to leave and consider the borders closed behind you—this country's basis is one with which you clearly are not on board. If you use phrases like "the Islamification of America" or "*real* Americans", you are no longer necessary—you have missed the point. If you think there should be a national language (and can't for the life of you figure out why there isn't one already in our 200-plus year history) then it is time for you to find a place where there is a national language and go there. I have never been one to suffer a fool silently, and I'm going to be taking that to a new level. If you convey your ignorance, hatred, and anti-American sentiment (and make no goddamned mistake, there is nothing more anti-American—more un-patriotic—than isolationist xenophobia), then I will be happy to convey unto you exactly how ignorant you are.
Oh, and stop misuing “patriot” to mean hateful, bigoted douchebag…that's not what it means. Jingoism and patriotism are not, in fact, the same thing.
Go Fuck Yourself, Tea Party