This may be a shock to some, particularly those who have never lived anywhere but the United States, but different cultures are different. There are very, very few universal standards. Freedoms that we take for granted are rare, unheard of, or even objectionable to others. Manners and morals we find odd or even objectionable are commonplace elsewhere.
It’s difficult enough making true generalizations but true generalizations that cross cultures are even harder.
I can’t believe that most wouldn’t agree with that. From there it becomes fuzzier. I think there’s also a “deep culture” and that culture is closely related to language. So, for example, that Russian lacks a verb “to have”, affects how Russian speakers think. They can express a concept something like our “to have” but it’s different, more like “by me/near me”. I think we would be prudent to require fluency in English of new immigrants.
So when I see people drawing conclusions about the behavior of 21st century Ghanaians based on the behavior of 19th century Germans, to cite one example, I just have to laugh. Not that there’s something wrong with 21st century Ghanians, something right about 19th century Germans, or vice versa.
They’re just different.
I also think that we’re going to have immigration into the United States for the foreseeable future, just as we have all through our past, and a lot of it. I think we need to go into it with open eyes.
Despite the similarities between the 19th century Irish and the 19th century Americans of the time, Irish immigration into the United States from 1840-1860 produced considerable friction. There was even more friction when the Southern and Eastern Europeans began coming to the United States in numbers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so much friction that we slammed the door for a couple of generations.
For the last 30 years we have had considerable immigration from Mexico and Central America. We have very nearly reached the point at which we slammed the door last time. Now immigration from Mexico is slowing for reasons I have pointed out many times and immigration from Pakistan, India, and China are increasing. The tensions and outright frictions, as we should have expected, from the number of new immigrants from cultures so different from ours are increasing, as we should have expected, while assimilation into American culture may well be more of a stretch than for previous cohorts even as the pressures to assimilate decrease.
I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride but, as I say, I think we should go into it with open eyes.