- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2006

One of the great miracles that is America has been the 19th and 20th century achievement of accepting, even welcoming, millions of immigrants from all corners of the globe and leaving them alone as they and their children acclimated themselves to the joys of opportunity in our democracy. What other country would have accepted as a symbol of its unquestioning hospitality the deserved implantation of the Statue of Liberty in New York’s spacious harbor?

Maurice Cranston, the late British philosopher, once described “the almost miraculous achievement in the United States [of] a community of near equals out of an immigrant stock of enormous diversity.” The achievement, he said, “was not the work of America’s political institutions; it was the work of American social institutions, schools, churches, neighborhood associations and such like.”

And these social institutions worked in harmony with the political institutions. Between 1890 and 1914, several million Jews came to this country from Eastern Europe, and from czarist Russia. Many more newcomers migrated from China, Mexico, Italy and everywhere else. We used to call it the “melting pot.” Today we call this phenomenon ethnic pluralism.

The migration of Jews from Europe continued into 1940 as they sought to escape from the spread of Nazism from Germany into the rest of Europe. Professor Deborah Dash Moore in her book “At Home in America” wrote that it was the second-generation New York Jews who provided all of American Jewry with the model for a “type of ethnicity consonant with middle-class American values.” And that model was adopted by other immigrants, as it had been by the earlier generations of Irish Catholic immigrants.

The reason I cite these findings is that none of these immigrant generations to the U.S. produced in perilous quantities bomb throwers, terrorists, saboteurs, vandals, whatever. Yes, there were vicious gangsters, from Al Capone, Italian-American, to Lepke Buchalter, Jewish-American, but they and their fellow gangsters either committed mayhem against each other or against recalcitrant saloonkeepers. Ordinary citizens were safe except, say, for the occasional storekeeper who demurred at paying the mobs’ “protection” money.

What these immigrant generations produced in great numbers were men and women who had never known patriotism in lands of their birth but found it easy to respect if not love the country in which they had settled. My father, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, went to night school after working all day so he could learn how to pass the naturalization test and become an American citizen. And it was a proud father who went into an election booth in 1932 to cast his first vote ever for Franklin D. Roosevelt. He paid no attention to my youthful plea that he should vote for Socialist Norman Thomas.

All this is in sharp contrast to the yakking about “alienation,” “dominant social pressures,” “ethnic discrimination,” and other sociological jargon. My father, and millions of other immigrants like him, wouldn’t have known what today’s apologists for terror were talking about.

All that was long ago. Today we have a new kind of would-be immigrant, one whose assigned priority is utter destruction of four democratic states, America, Britain, Canada and Spain, as representatives of Western civilization.

Many of these new Middle East immigrants, prepared to destroy our Judeo-Christian value system, are unassimilatable. And we have not found a way, if there is one, to eliminate this threat. The truth is that so long as we remain a democracy there is no way to eradicate this peril.

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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