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More on Assimilation as a Desideratum

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The furor over the immigration bill also involves that word I like: assimilation. Note Ann Coulter’s rage against Hispanics here:

[T]raitors who are citizens have destroyed all acculturating
institutions… Until the recipient culture is capable of doing an effective job
of Americanizing immigrants, it’s preposterous to talk about a massive
influx of Hispanic immigrants accomplishing anything other than turning
America into yet another Latin American-style banana republic. And it
is simply a fact that no one is trying to turn immigrants into

The idea of assimilation, turning immigrants into Americans, is sanctified among conservatives. And yes, the idea often has racist overtones, as it does here. Speaking as a leftie, I have much more respect for minority rights than the conservatives do; I trust the ability of the U.S. to absorb and acculturate newbies without compelling the newbies to give up their ways. But sometimes you have to draw the line.

I bring this up again apropos of my Jewish people. Michael Walzer has said that Jews have an "anomalous" citizenship, being members of a nation that includes Israel. As a tolerant liberal, I find Walzer’s formulation acceptable; after all, the Supreme Court overturned centuries of tradition by allowing a Jew to vote both in Israel and the U.S. But that’s not to say that his formulation is preferable. In fact, it creates a great deal of confusion when anomalous citizens are in the White House, advising the president on Middle East policy. (Why don’t the conservatives go near that one?)

My bottom line: There should be honor for Jews who say, Guess what, I’m a citizen of the United States, my heart is here, and I will place my country’s interests above all other countries…

P.S. My friend George Ajjan is right to object to the grotesque profanity of a reader’s comment yesterday. It was all about me having sex with my Christian in-laws. And it’s gone.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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