By John Vinson, March 31, 2021
When I began my work in the immigration restriction movement more than thirty years ago, I saw where the tends were headed. One of my chief concerns was that we were admitting too many people to assimilate. But when I raised this issue to mass immigration advocates, they commonly replied, with a smug lilt in their voices, that “You restrictionists have always said that immigrants wouldn’t assimilate. Benjamin Franklin feared that the Germans would overrun Pennsylvania. But all those fears were groundless, and the melting pot worked just fine.”
I was never convinced that assimilation was an easy process, or that some of the warnings weren’t valid. The Germanization of Pennsylvania would have been a problem if the flow of immigration hadn’t slowed down. Another truth that seemed obvious to me was that assimilation is not automatic, something we can take for granted. It requires, at minimum, three conditions to succeed: 1) native-born Americans who agree on what their common culture is; 2) native-born Americans who have the confidence and determination to impose that culture on newcomers, whether by persuasion or stronger measures; and 3) a level of immigration which doesn’t overwhelm the will and ability of the natives to carry out assimilation.
Years ago I heard a speech by an elderly man, from Eastern Europe who described his schooling after he and his family arrived as immigrants. His teachers laid down the rules in no uncertain terms – he and his fellow immigrants were to learn the language, culture, values, and folkways of their new country. With this and other incentives, he and his classmates became Americans. Assimilation worked then, because we made it work and because, around that time, we decided to limit an unprecedented level of immigration.
Now let’s fast forward to the present. California is now considering a course of study which would have students praying and chanting to the gods of the Aztecs. The promoters of this scheme say it can help atone for the imposition of Christianity by European colonizers. It’s a far cry to be sure from the curriculum that the elder from Europe described in his speech. And it is no anomaly. Classrooms across the country abound in anti-American abominations such as the 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory. The instruction they offer will ensure that immigrants will only assimilate to the national self-loathing of our country’s elites. And, sadly, such misinformation will prevent a lot of homegrown kids from loving the land of their birth.
Some “conservative” immigration defenders say we should not blame immigrants for the work of native-born multiculturalists. There’s some truth to that, but it is also true that the collective impact of mass immigration creates social and political conditions which allow our native-born multi-cultists to thrive.
It’s no coincidence that California has some of the zaniest expressions of multicultural nihilism. After all, it is the state with the highest number and percentage of immigrants. It’s hard to keep a core culture when so many people of different backgrounds are arriving. And as the old saying goes, “Where California goes, the rest of the country will follow.” Today, as we live through the highest sustained level of immigration in our history, the very concept of assimilation is becoming questionable in some quarters and even disreputable. Our Woke masters now inform us that asking newcomers to assimilate is an expression of intolerance and “racism.”
At this point a reality check is necessary. Mindless people may scream all they like that “diversity is our strength,” but that can’t erase a simple truth: diversity without a common core is anarchy and social chaos. Without assimilation a common core can’t exist. America, now a confused and divided nation, desperately needs a breathing space to recover her sense of national identity. A pause in immigration is essential for that to happen.
John Vinson is President of the American Immigration Control Foundation.