Friday, November 18, 2005

Why America Beats Europe at Integrating Immigrants

The Economist hits the nail on the head (subscription only article):
Work is the archetypal social activity. It provides friends and contacts beyond your family or ethnic group. If you start your own company, it pulls you further into the society around you. And here is a striking difference between Europe and America. Unemployment in France is almost 10%. Among immigrants or the children of immigrants, it is at least twice and sometimes four times as high. In contrast, unemployment among legal immigrants in America is negligible, and business ownership is off the scale compared with Europe.

The second big motor of integration is home-ownership, especially important in the second and third generations. This gives people a stake in society, something they can lose. Thanks to cheap mortgages and an advanced banking system, half of Latinos in America own their own homes. Britain, after its council-house sales and property booms, also encourages house ownership. In contrast, most of the blocks in the French banlieues are publicly owned.

Between them, a job and a house help to create not only more integration but also greater social mobility. Latinos supported America's turn towards assimilation because they feared the trap of Spanish-language ghettos. But the banlieues are full of people who have grown up without jobs, or any hope of getting a better income or a better place to live. For them, integration is a deceit, not a promise.

A job and a house will not solve everything. The father of one of the July 7th London bombers owned two shops, two houses and a Mercedes. But if you want to know why second- and third-generation immigrants integrate more in some countries than others, jobs and houses are a good place to start.
Having lived half my life in Europe and the other half in America has led me to the same conclusion. I have never met an immigrant to Europe who speaks of his new home with as much respect, gratitude and admiration as many first and second generation Americans do.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bruce Bawer: Not all Muslims want to integrate

Our friend Bruce Bawer has a new piece out, this time about the state of Muslim immigrants in Europe (via Andrew Sullivan):
A government report leaked last March depicted an increasingly two-track educational system: More and more Muslim students refuse to sing, dance, participate in sports, sketch a face, or play an instrument. They won't draw a right angle (it looks like part of the Christian cross). They won't read Voltaire and Rousseau (too antireligion), Cyrano de Bergerac (too racy), Madame Bovary (too pro-women), or Chr├ętien de Troyes (too chr├ętien). One school has separate toilets for "Muslims" and "Frenchmen"; another obeyed a Muslim leader's call for separate locker rooms because "the circumcised should not have to undress alongside the impure."
I've heard similar stories from friends in Norway who work in the military or the school system (some Oslo schools have "ghetto-like" immigrant populations). Tales of separate showers, lockers and kitchens (where pots are not stained by pork), and refusal to participate in ordinary school activities. Clearly this can't go on.

I am a Norwegian living in America and I am offended by many things American. But my choices are clear; I either put up, leave, or work to change things in a constructive manner. (This blog is partially an attempt at the latter.) The same should go for Muslims in Europe. Therefore I support Bawer's conclusion:
It's a war authorities can't afford to lose. By accepting separatism, Europe is becoming a house divided against itself. Governments must take a firm, aggressive, integration- oriented line - must, among other things, end separate treatment in schools and turn welfare recipients into workers. Above all, they must stand alongside Muslims who wish to integrate - not those who seek to colonize. And they must hope - and pray - that it isn't already too late.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Jews, Asians and College Admissions

College quotas: Matt thinks Asians are "the new Jews".