Monday, September 29, 2014

Multiculturalist quartet

One of the least talked about events of World War II is the internment of 100,000 Japanese Americans after the Pearl Harbor attack. Japanese immigrants’ national loyalty was a motivating concern. With Pearl Harbor burning, the Pacific was wide open, and fears were Japan would attack American west coast. Could Japanese Americans be a fifth column? FDR decided it wasn’t worth the risk to find out.

People precede empire. Crimea is majority Russians, and the people cheered upon being “invaded” by the Russians earlier this year. Eastern Ukraine also has a lot of Russians. A handful of them, tacitly supported by the rest, are acting as de facto agents of the Russians state, mounting an insurgency against the Ukrainian authorities. Unless the Ukrainians defeat them, they will clear the way for the Russian army.

Alton Nolen of Moore, Oklahoma, pledged allegiance to an entity hostile to America and to Christians, and he murdered a coworker who wouldn't pledge with him. The “workplace violence” vs. “terrorism” debate peddled in the media is trite and tedious. The real debate to be had is how to tell friend from foe in an asymmetric cultural battlespace.

It was disconcerting when the national soccer team ventured into hostile territory—Southern California—to play Mexico in 2011. Sportswriter Bill Plaschke explained the Americans cheering for Mexico’s “sporting souls remain elsewhere.” But do their loyalties end at sport?

Tressy Capps tried to shame her neighbors into taking down the Mexican flag hanging in front of their house. Shame used to be commonplace to assimilate immigrants, Victor Davis Hanson writes. The weight of the home culture came to bear on the parents, who taught their children accordingly.

Assimilation is a process, the arrow between origin and destination. What is the destination culture? Is it desirable? Hanson writes:

How did the old assimilationist model work? Brutally and effectively. In our grammar schools during the 1950s and 1960s, no Spanish was to be spoken on the playground—officially at least. Groups of four and larger were not allowed to congregate at recess. When we were caught fighting, nontraditional kicking instead of the accepted punching earned four, rather than two, spankings. A rather tough Americanism in class was rammed down our throats—biographies of Teddy Roosevelt, stories about Lou Gehrig, a repertory of a dozen or so patriotic songs, recitations from Longfellow, and demonstrations of how to fold the flag. “Manners” and “civics” were taught each week, with weird lessons about not appearing “loud” in public or wearing glittery or showy clothes, and especially not staring down strangers or giving people the “hard look” with the intent of “being unpleasant.” Our teachers were at times insufferable in their condescension as they disclosed the formula for “making it in America”—but make it in America the vast majority of these immigrants did.

That was then. Now, Capps gets sacked by her employer for not accepting the false paradigm of the universal, indiscriminate man. And the immigrant justifies himself with the sterile language of the libertarian:

“I don’t think it’s offensive because this flag doesn’t do anything,” he said.

Banuelos says he and his family never meant to offend anyone. They were just celebrating their Mexican heritage. He says the family keeps both a U.S. and Mexican flag flying.

“We decide. We have one American and one Mexican,” he said.

Related: the naturalization oath.

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