How the concern over ethnic “separation” misstates the problem

Have you ever noticed how commentators concerned about the Muslim immigrant problem in Europe, as well as about the Mexican immigrant problem in the U.S., will express their worries by saying that the immigrants “are separating instead of assimilating”?

In fact the issue is not that these groups are “separating” from the mainstream culture. It is that they are expanding their numbers and power—the power of their culture, religion, or ethnos—and in the process weakening the culture, sovereignty, and nationhood of the host society. But Western opinion makers almost never state the issue in those terms, because that would mean defending the specific culture of the host society, rather than defending the liberal ideal of the mutual harmonious blending of all peoples.

To speak of the “separation” of Muslims makes it sound as though they just seek to be in their own enclaves away from the mainstream. Actually that would be far less threatening than what they are seeking. Further, given their unassimilability, any serious attempt to make Muslims integrate into the mainstream culture would be even more destructive to the mainstream culture than if they were allowed to stay by themselves.

The fear that Muslims (and others groups) are “separating” themselves is a mirror image of the modern liberal belief in the West’s unlimited capacity to assimilate non-Western and nonwhite immigrants. It conveys the idea that such separation is a deviation from the normal, natural, and correct course of things, which is assimilation. From the liberal point of view, assimilation, which is the liberal ideal, and separation, which is the failure or rejection of that ideal, are the only two conceivable options.

As suggested above, this view of the problem excludes other possibilities, such as that the immigrant group is not interested in assimilating or in separating, but, as human groups have been doing since the beginning of time, in spreading itself at the expense of other groups, namely our group. This possibility is never admitted by mainstream commentators, as it would mean the end of the belief in the universal sameness and equality of the human race, and thus the end of modern liberalism.

However, even if liberals conceded the falsehood of their belief in the West’s capacity to assimilate all peoples, that would not necessarily lead them to return to the traditional belief in nationhood. It could lead them—as we see in William J. Stuntz’s article in the Weekly Standard—to call for the nation’s surrender to the hostile aliens among us.

And that indeed would demonstrate the normal and predictable evolution of liberalism, from right-liberalism, which (1) states that all peoples are the same as us and can assimilate into our society and (2) therefore concludes that all discriminatory and exclusionary practices are the greatest moral evil; to left-liberalism or leftism, which (1) recognizes that the other peoples whom we have admitted en masse into our society are not like us and even intend us harm, but (2) still maintains the right-liberal belief that discrimination is the greatest moral evil, and (3) therefore tells us that we must appease and acquiesce to those other peoples who intend us harm.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 12, 2008 12:36 PM | Send

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