I don’t see what’s so difficult or controversial about my claim that newcomers to a nation, any nation, this one included, have a duty to learn about the nation’s culture and accommodate themselves to it to a reasonable extent. As I said, this doesn’t mean they have to give up every last vestige of their own culture. It just means that American culture has no duty to accommodate itself to them or “represent” them on t.v. or elsewhere, which is what the original article I responded to was suggesting
I’m all for pluralism, a diversity of viewpoints, races, ethnicities and religions. I love the fact that, living here in New York City, I can eat authentic food from all over the world, and I love hearing different languages spoken and seeing different styles of dress and demeanor and customs and everything else. If I wanted bland homogeneity and total conformity, I’d obviously move elsewhere.
My point, however, is that there also has to be a basic level of respect for one’s host culture. Western Europe is dealing with this right now with its crisis of Muslim immigrants and migrants, many of whom live in ethnic enclaves, aren’t bothering to learn the relevant language and, in many cases, are just living like parasites, availing themselves of the very generous system of welfare-type benefits available in these nations while not bothering to look for work and then, after all this, having the gall to complain about how they’re treated, blaming their host nation for keeping them mired in poverty and, in the cases of a few radicals, even engaging in acts of terrorism against their host nations while dreaming of creating a universal caliphate in Europe.
I am using this an example to explain that there has to be a limit to tolerance and pluralism. There’s a point at which pluralism ends and tribal warfare and Balkanization begin. There’s a point at which we don’t need to be tolerant of those who don’t want to bother returning the favor.
There’s a level of assimilation that’s Borg-like and heavy-handed and ultimately ridiculous, and that’s not what most reasonable people here want and expect, but then there’s this other extreme of people who just got off the boat, as it were, and are saying, “Okay, I’m here! Clothe me, feed me, take care of me, represent me, speak to me in my language, and meanwhile, I’ll just keep living as though I’m back in the old country,” and that’s just as ridiculous in the other direction. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to find a middle ground, where immigrants aren’t forced to assimilate or die but are still expected to assimilate to some extent to be accepted in polite company, so to speak.
There’s a basic level of respect you have to have when you come to another person’s house. If they want you to take off the shoes you’ve been wearing outside and put on slippers, then that’s what you do. It’s the same with nations. If some brash, loud, disrespectful American arrives in Japan and ignores the more outwardly “polite” and “reserved” public culture and other local customs and starts acting like a boor, he will be judged for it accordingly, and deservedly so. I don’t understand why it’s so wrong for us to expect that same level of respect and accommodation to our norms and customs when someone from another country comes to America.