A profound discomfort with the idea of “them” becoming “us”

The pillars of U.S. immigration policy are integration and emplyment; officials in Western Europe, by contrast, thought they were doing immigrants a favor by not requiring – or even encouraging – either. One might wonder why European authorities didn’t try to learn from the spectacularly successful history of U.S. immigration. I’ve lived in Europe long enough to know why: they didn’t see it as a success story. In the eyes of the Western European establishment, America is a fundamentally racist and materialistic nation that cruelly compels immigrants to shake off their identities and fend for themselves under a heartless, dog-eat-dog economic system. [..]

While immigrants to America are encouraged to become full members of society – and are rewarded for doing so – in Europe (where the native-born children and grandchildren of immigrants are actually called “second- and third-generation immigrants”) the establishment prefers its minorities unintegrated. Why? The supposed reason is that it respects differences; the real reason, as I gradually came to understand, was a profound discomfort with the idea of “them” becoming “us”. Immigrants to Europe are allowed to perpetuate even the most atrocious aspects of their cultures, but the price for this is that no one, including themselves, will ever think of them as Dutch or German or Swedish.

– Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept

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