Migration, Multiculturalism and Ghettoization

From Maggie's Farm, an article by George Friedman, author of Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe:
The current crisis has its origins in the collapse of European hegemony over North Africa after World War II and the Europeans' need for cheap labor. As a result of the way in which they ended their imperial relations, they were bound to allow the migration of Muslims into Europe, and the permeable borders of the European Union enabled them to settle where they chose. The Muslims, for their part, did not come to join in a cultural transformation. They came for work, and money, and for the simplest reasons. The Europeans' appetite for cheap labor and the Muslims' appetite for work combined to generate a massive movement of populations.
The matter was complicated by the fact that Europe was no longer simply Christian. Christianity had lost its hegemonic control over European culture over the previous centuries and had been joined, if not replaced, by a new doctrine of secularism. Secularism drew a radical distinction between public and private life, in which religion, in any traditional sense, was relegated to the private sphere with no hold over public life. There are many charms in secularism, in particular the freedom to believe what you will in private. But secularism also poses a public problem. There are those whose beliefs are so different from others' beliefs that finding common ground in the public space is impossible. And then there are those for whom the very distinction between private and public is either meaningless or unacceptable. The complex contrivances of secularism have their charm, but not everyone is charmed.
Europe solved the problem with the weakening of Christianity that made the ancient battles between Christian factions meaningless. But they had invited in people who not only did not share the core doctrines of secularism, they rejected them. What Christianity had come to see as progress away from sectarian conflict, Muslims (and some Christians) may see as simply decadence, a weakening of faith and the loss of conviction.
. . .
. . . Newly arrived immigrants are always poor. That's why they immigrate. And until they learn the language and customs of their new homes, they are always ghettoized and alien. It is the next generation that flows into the dominant culture. But the dirty secret of multiculturalism was that its consequence was to perpetuate Muslim isolation. And it was not the intention of Muslims to become Europeans, even if they could. They came to make money, not become French. The shallowness of the European postwar values system thereby becomes the horror show that occurred in Paris last week.
Friedman has no solution to suggest. I take him to be implying that we've got a fight coming, whether we like it or not.  He won't claim a moral justification for the fight, but he also declines to be slaughtered.


douglas said...

One of the things that concerns me here is that I have seen in my lifetime a huge shift in the immigrants from Mexico and points South their reasons for coming and their increased isolation in essentially largely segregated communities. Part of this is simply the ability to operate in your day to day life without learning English- radio, tv, store employees, ballots- you can speak Spanish only and have no trouble at all. The other thing is that now, many of the recent immigrants come to make money and either retire back to Mexico, or really do believe- to some extent- the Reconquista narrative, and have little interest in assimilating. When I was a kid, the other kids from Hispanic families had anglicized names, and rarely spoke Spanish at home, or at best spoke a mixture. Of course, the majority of them were second generation, but you saw the first generation coming then emulate their model. Not anymore.

Texan99 said...

I wouldn't have any trouble with people speaking Spanish at home or anywhere else if they could get good jobs or start businesses that way. I never expect assimilation from people who can succeed without it. And I never excuse failure from people who can't be bothered to assimilate to whatever nearby culture is managing to feed itself.

Eric Blair said...

Douglas' comment is what is worrisome. France shut out their African immigrants--as have most European countries with all that left over "blut und volk" nationalism from the 19th century.

The US was mostly spared that, in that most immigrants could find a place and become part of the US if they wanted to.

douglas said...

Oh, I certainly have no problem with people speaking Spanish, and even using that to make a living- I don't think the Spanish language tv or radio stations are evil per se- but when you have enough of them, and they cleave more closely to the traditions of the old country than to the new, you create a bubble within your society that is actually of another culture.

I suppose I have no right to expect assimilation- every man is free to do as he pleases in that regard, and rightly so- but I can think it's bad for the society that produced the riches they came here for, and the security that helped create the fertile ground for that prosperity at the same time. I also don't see why I should feel beholden to others to produce ballots or other governmental publications in languages other than English. Language being so central to culture, I think an English only policy would be an excellent idea.

So I suppose my point is, we might be creating a place that's compassionate to the individual immigrant, but is it compassionate to the society at large and the future?

By the way, oddly enough, my parents and both brothers speak from passable to excellent Spanish- especially my Dad who was a Latin American Studies major in college and can, these 60 years later, still quote you the opening sentences of Don Quixote in the original Spanish- I'm the only one who really doesn't. I know a lot of word's but just never really got it enough to be useful.

Texan99 said...

"France shut out their African immigrants"--did they really, though? The article I quoted the other day described the process for most immigrant groups, which is that the first generation generally finds itself remaining somewhat separate, while the second and third generation assimilate. Were African Muslim immigrants to France really denied this chance, or did their culture lead them to reject it?

Historically U.S. immigrants never were given the option to remain separate. That seems to be changing, as Americans increasingly adopt the notion that it's unfair to expect anyone's culture to adapt, even if it's a choice between that and permanent helpless poverty.