Thursday, March 30, 2006

Assimilation: Peggy Noonan Voices America's Fear

Every week, I read Peggy Noonan. She is always provocative and always has something important to say even when her views seem wrong to me. Today, though, her views about immigration are spot on.

In a nutshell, she believes that America's worry about the immigrants both legal and illegal is that they are part of us culturally, but have not fully assimilated. They don't see the grandeur of America and she gives examples. They don't know the amazing history and she recites some.

She doesn't blame media and the academy or hold them to much account at any rate and that is where her opinion differs from mine. In the aftermath of WWII, American pride was at a zenith. And why not? We had saved the world from a terrible fate and this is not overstatement, much as some might bristle at the idea.

Watergate and Vietnam changed this. For the first time, the press not only reported the downfall of our greatness, the coverage took a gleeful tone, as if it was no small thing that the very trustworthiness of our most highest places was is in doubt. And then, those politically opposed to Vietnam used their bully pulpit to sway and push and prod public opinion. It went beyond reporting. Television gave those reporting the news power that their predecessors in print media could never imagine. The visual media people revelled in it. It will be, make that is, their downfall.

This frenzied energy surrounding the Clinton scandels bothered me for the same reason. While Bill Clinton's cigar usage in the Oval Office is beneath contempt, what is worse, in my opinion, is that everyone knew about this. America had come to this despicable place and some, mostly again, in the press revelled in it. Mostly, I think that those in the press who believe it is their mission to "right all wrongs" are naturally cynical beasts. Authority is not to be trusted and when authority falls, it just proves what they already believe.

But the problem is, most people I know don't believe this. They see how a damaged president, damages America. They don't like it. That, more than any other reason, is why people did not want to see Clinton impeached. Not because he wasn't wrong: he was a liar and user of people and everything else, but he was the President. When the President fails, the failure is felt for a long time. America feels it for a long time. The press, generally, is glad of this. They don't like a high-falutin' leadership, a noble bunch. Fallibility makes great news and jokes and stories. Dignity doesn't.

Well, we've enjoyed about fifty years of seeing in raw, gruesome detail the failings of the greatest nation on earth. But what we have seen is hardly the whole story, or half the story, or even one teeny-weeny part of the story. But when you see murder, rape, burglery, homelessness, displacement, "slow government response" to a natural disaster relentlessly, daily, hourly, visually in your home, it is easy to forget that criminals get due process, that they receive the benefit of a jury trial and are innocent until proven guilty, that the government does respond to disaster not just our own but the worlds and generously too, over and over and over. In fact, Americans seem incapable of donor fatigue, but that my friends is coming and I'll tell you why: when you do your best for people you don't know, who don't know you, simply because you imagine how it must be, and those people don't appreciate it, in fact, they HATE you it breeds frustration and indignation and finally resignation and eventually apathy. It doesn't matter what we do anyway....

When your allies spit on your hand ala France. When your allies join with your sworn enemies to make a buck. When countries all around treat you with disdain when you could have consumed them for a light snack in one afternoon, but don't because you DO believe in the notion of a sovereign nation. When the press ignores all the good our people, our soldiers, do, people get irritated and turn their energies where they believe they will count. When the press doesn't report the news but seems eager to destroy people, especially those who represent America, it angers them.

The internet, is a relief from this reality and also a sharper view of this reality, too. No smiling faces to couch the venom. No images of neutrality just raw, uncensored ..... for lack of a better word, hatred. Yes, hatred. There are those among us who seem to hate who and what America stands for, stood for and what made her great.

Now, I'm not saying that anyone who disagrees with me hates America. That kind of strident rhetoric is what is abominable. But it does seem that there are those whose contempt for our stature in the world hides under sneering elitism and in the case of the illegals marching all over God's green earth and highways and by-ways the contempt represents itself in a flag from another country and the American flag flown..... upside down. Upside down on her own grace-filled, blessed and giving streets. Upside down.

The average American sees this and it only confirms a suspician held for quite some time: America is great to count on in time of need, she will protect and fight for the safety and freedom of all free peoples not just her own, but she can be treated like dirt and be counted on to still do the generous thing.

That can change. And much as President Bush and the know-better-than-you Senators would like to pander for votes to ILLEGAL people, they confirm the belief that America no longer stands on principles. Don't give me the B.S. about being built on immigrants. America was built by immigrants--people who deeply desired to come to America and stopped speaking their native tongue immediately because they wanted to be AMERICAN--not Polish or Scottish or Italian or Irish. American.

I still have friends, even Mexicans, this way. They refuse to speak their native tongue. They want to be viewed as American not Mexicans who live and work here. My next door neighbors work their butts off every day to learn the language and fit in--even though the vulgarity of the M-TV culture offends them. It offends me too, I tell them. Good grief! These are the people we WANT here. Legal immigrants, small business owners who want to be good Americans because AMERICA IS GREAT and a land of GREAT OPPORTUNITY if you're willing to work.

America is still this place. I am sorry that whole sub-sets of our society is breaking down almost beyond repair and have become intergenerational slaves to the state. Some are almost beyond help. That does not mean that there isn't opportunity here. But you won't see it if you're doped up, strung out or watching the news. You have to live it these days to see it.

The media does contribute to this or even creates this nasty UNGRATEFUL atmosphere where every other country but America and every other religion but Christianity is portrayed in a charitable and noble light. Even Bill Clinton opined the other day that Britain is envyed in America. No it isn't. Not by me. Give me a break! You can't take a good shower or get clean teeth in that corner of the world. I love America. And when I leave, I'm always so glad to be back. It is the best country. By far. No question. No competition. END OF STORY.

With the greatness called into question, a very common-sense reaction could be: fine, we'll bring our soldiers back--from EVERYWHERE (except our loyal allies like Britain, Australia, Spain and Poland to name a few)--fend for yourself, we'll start up our factories, export the illegals, eat our own produce, build our own stuff. Our people are not above manual labor, much as those in high places would like to portray it so. And those who think every other country is heaven compared to the U.S., good-bye.

It's not just the lack of assimilation, Peggy, it's the unbridled contempt for what America is, was and stands for that galls most Americans. That there is so much self-loathing that the marching nonsense is even tolerated, that's what worries Americans. Assimilation will never happen if the preservation of what America is, is lost--and lost by her own citizens. We won't have to worry about fighting an enemy, we'll just spend our time consuming ourselves.

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