A Wonderful Life in a World-Wide Multi-Culture

William S. Lind is an original and insightful thinker in military issues.  As usual, specialists never know when their judgment does not extend to other issues*.  While I agree that the refugees will keep coming so long as they are both driven from their homes by the world’s lousy economy and the wars, and also have some chance of being accepted,  most of this is nonsense, pure propaganda.  “Mudslide of immigrants, … Few will ever acculturate. Instead of becoming Europeans, they will turn Europe into a duplicate of the hellholes they are trying to escape.”

Opinions that “Muslims will take over” and the exactly opposite “they will never integrate” are everywhere, nobody seems to have any clue about modern history, much less ancient history.  Apparently no one has read any of Thomas Sowell’s books and thinks these events are novel here in the US. If there is a constant in history, it is stories of migrations and integrations of cultures, often-times problems of home-grown variants of cultures such as Protestant religions.  Those were often driven from country to country, also, causing problems as they went.

In fact, those memes “no acculturation” and “they will take over” have been a constant through the history of immigrants, for example here in the US.  ‘The English’, the Protestants in the colonies, said that about ‘the Germans’, Swiss German Amish, for example.  In that case, they were more correct than with any other, but Amish in their areas are now accepted as part of the normal social and business landscapes, part of America, and 10% of their young people leave that culture and join the rest of us, invisibly so far as I can tell.

Amish never did fit in. Amish are a completely separate part of the American social landscape, a completely different religion and culture, a fast-multiplying group that is expanding.  They have a reputation for taking care of their own problems, you don’t see them in court very often. Oh yes, extremely inbred, the worst and openly reject every value of modern America.  And their women wear headcoverings for modesty.

Amish are everything we are warned about in foreign groups.  Do you see that has damaged this country?  It drives land prices up in poor places, no question, young Amish men have an insatiable need for land, the only American social group like that, I think.  (Financial groups also have an insatiable need for land.  Which of those would you rather have owning the farm next door?)

The same “too different, will never fit in” has been applied to every wave of immigrants since, and the last-generation immigrants have always joined the choruses.  German Jews were very critical of the uncultured Eastern European Jews.  Swiss and Northern Italians of southern Italians, … and I now hear foreigners critiquing the newcomers’ driving as being appropriate for oxcarts in small villages, not freeways at rush hour.  We have had waves of bad driving as a result of the waves of immigrants, things improve for a while, and then it happens again.  Mexicans are doing it again, right now to this generation’s wetbacks.

Every culture has in fact joined the native culture, and broadened and improved that as it did so.  America’s food is very different than before the Italians arrived.  Chinese ditto.  Our language has many foreign words, Yiddish expressions are still common.  And as for entertainment, what would we do for bad guys?  Kid convinced me to watch ‘Narcos’ with him.  TV has come a long way, and that story makes me even more cynical than ‘House of Cards’.  Escobar and Ochoa certainly influenced our culture, but we can’t blame any of that on them, it was all our doing, lovers of their products and a government gone insane from their own propaganda.

Other than the Amish and equivalent Hutterites, a few others, there are NO examples of people who did not join the wider culture except those on a government dole.  American Indians, some sections of American blacks, and possibly some of the newcomers, tho most haven’t been here long enough to judge.

In 2015, 15% of the population are immigrants.  That was 20% in 1900 on a much smaller population base, the US seems to have survived.  Many of those people were Catholics from South and Eastern Europe, then thought to be fully as bad as the Muslims today.  Has nobody read the religious controversies around JFK’s election?

I grew up in an area with many Amish and Mennonites, neighbors in adjacent farms.  We played with their kids, went to school with them.  Different, and everyone was aware of who was who, but no particular problems I ever heard of beyond people being annoyed with the slow-moving buggies on the highways.  They sometimes intermarried, my grandmother was Amish, the reason my mother was a good cook, German farm food was much better than English.

As an adult, I have always lived near major universities, which are everywhere more multi-cultural than the wider society, and from whence that spreads.  Last time I went to Columbus, Ohio, High Street looks much like every other university town and also most of the areas around tech companies I consult for.

I now live in an extremely multi-cultural part of America, but this area is certainly not unique, all large cities have equivalents.  I can walk to halal markets, restaurants with 75 Indians and Pakistanis and 2 non-Indian customers for lunch, ME restaurants run by Israelis and Lebanese and Syrians (Moslems do great lamb, Israelis can do a great falafal), many Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Chinese including Singapore Chinese (nice curries) and Xinjiang Uyghur restaurants.  Food trucks are everywhere, the corner gas station a block away has both a Mexican food truck and an Indian food truck.  The two walking-distance Fish and Chips places are run by Indian and Chinese (Chinese is better).

Walking to lunch, or being waited on at lunch, I see women in scarves, men in turbans (not so many now, those were Sikhs, they have taken so much abuse and don’t have anything to do with Islam), and men in jihadi beards.  Some proportion of those are bog-standard kids, that fashion has been popular of the last few years.  Some are Jewish.

My neighborhood is rentals with all of those kinds of people and many more.  Across the street is a Russian-speaking Cambodian MD.  Blacks, Mexicans, Indians, Pakistanis, Russians, Chinese speaking several versions of Chinese (I can tell some of them apart), Vietnamese and standard European whites of some ethnic background (we all had one once), none can tell except by our names.

We, my wife and I, are not particularly special, and our friends are probably average of senior engineering people around here.  Our personal friends include many of those and acquaintances and co-workers include all and many more, we live in a culturally rich environment.  One one job, for example, I managed a group that spoke 26 languages.

One of my wife’s good immigrant friends married an American black, an engineer.  Their daughter is very lovely, sparkling personality and so smart.  Another just married a Greek immigrant, a VP in a tech company.  One family runs a catering business specializing in ethnic food, we go to all of their parties, food is spectacular.  We see an African French speaker who got his degrees from the Sorbonne a couple of times a year, a guy I worked with on a few jobs and like very much. Also worked with an Iranian skydiver who friends dove with.  A Taiwanese friend of mine married an American woman a few years ago.  Children of friends have married American children of last-generation’s Taiwanese and Hong Kong immigrants.  Among friends and acquaintances are the usual mix of sexual preferences, several gay couples married, one with very wonderful children.

Among the children of people whose parties we go to, many have sent their kids through the area’s very high-end private school, $25K / year for HS was the cost a few years ago, probably higher now.  We went to the graduation a couple of years ago, >50% were Indians or Pakistanis.  Kids go on to high-end colleges, NYU, Ivy League, etc.  One young woman recently moved to LA to pursue her music career.  Our community has half a dozen music teachers, a couple of them run schools including our son’s teacher, so we always have people to play for parties.  Also a lot of DJs and photographers, things the young people do working their way through college.  Children of immigrants make up a high proportion of the students at our state’s best colleges.

My 19-yo son is manager of an electronics manufacturing operation in a startup.  He speaks 3 languages at work with native speakers, hopes to hire someone so he can practice his 4th.  Great group, all in their 20s and all the ones he has hired were born here.  All of the founders are foreign, have senior jobs at major tech companies in the area.

I asked him “How  many of your friends and coworkers have parents who are immigrants?”.  “Most of them”.  How many of their parents are mixed cultures?  “A lot, but not most.  Does it matter?”  All that is normal to him, just part of the world he lives in.  Works in also, often 7 days a week when they have a backlog, 12 hour days are normal.  Those are all hard-working people, just like we are.

Our apt is in an area of mainly working-class people.  Town is very mixed light mfging, offices, bedroom community with areas built in the 50s and 60s and a lot of building still going on, .25M people now, I think most of the few killings since I have been here have been done by police.  Very low crime, cops show up 4+ cars strong every now and again for drug busts and traffic problems from what we can learn from the reports.  But we don’t notice anything beyond the smell cannabis wafting through the neighborhoods we walk through every now and then.  We have cannabis dealers in near-by apts.  Cars were vandalized twice just after we moved in haven’t seen that for a couple of years now.  Nice folks, lots of people out walking and are happy to stop and talk if I say ‘hi’.  The school on the next block has more kinds of children than you can imagine.

So far as I can see, this is normal for everyone, no big deal at all. We live within a world-wide culture with many different threads running through our lives, and love it and always want more.

I myself and my family and nearly everyone we know have all profited by our various investments in a multi-cultural world for ourselves.  One minor point that I have appreciated nearly daily through my life is that my multicultural family has always eaten very much better than our neighbors.  Great benefits.  To the contrary, there are no costs except for the GD taxes, and the immigrants didn’t cause those, that again was our doing.  We set up the system, can’t blame any of that on the immigrants and others taking advantage of it.

Further, this world-wide multi-culture has all been voluntary across nearly every nation.  Nobody chooses a monoculture without experiencing at least some of what the others have to offer, that is why we all left small-town America, too boring.**  If we could, we moved to the big city because of the food and the music and the many different kinds of people.  Excitement and variety, quality entertainment.

Cultures are living things, complex systems endlessly evolving and often improving.  There has never been an ideal culture nor an ideal people that filled it.  Even if there was an ideal culture, it isn’t something you can shove down people’s throats, that is guaranteed to pervert it right from the beginning.

Your culture will evolve, and your role in that is to be the person you want inhabiting your ideal culture.  You better hope your culture changes continuously.

The only static things in life are dead.

Ends of eras are not a time to be passive or reactionary in opposing changes, don’t just wait for things to happen, take charge of your future.  We again have a bunch of people who want to impose a mono-culture upon us. For our own good, of course.

That is is the danger, and the people who preach against the terrible threats that immigrants pose to our great country want to kill the source of our greatness, which has always been including ever-more of the world’s culture into our own.  That is how we became great, not the military empire, but the people driving the science and technology and trade and connecting us and those accomplishments to the rest of the world.

I think we can learn a great deal from history, and everything I think I have learned says the mono-culturalists are completely wrong.

I think that a wise German would have left Germany when he noticed that Germany had a Jewish Problem, not just a wise German Jew.  Way more German Germans were killed than German Jews in the craziness that resulted from the politics that had lead to Germans realizing they had a Jewish Problem.

I think that pretty much all of Europe failed to predict the effects of those political trends on their lives.  We know that, because they all stayed in Europe and so many starved and/or died.

Do you think these last two points have implications for your current evaluation of events?  Given the growing understanding that America has a Moslem Problem?

*The problem is the deep knowledge and adulation for the expertise.  No human ego can withstand that, so the individual begins believing in themselves.  Give me a Woody Allen-type character as an adviser any day, I won’t have as many catastrophes.

I would tell you how qualified I was in advising caution, but you might believe me.

**The internet is changing the relative advantages, so I expect small-towns in rural America to blossom again.  That could happen quickly if we learn from the fact that 90% of Amish kids go back to their warm family culture after their year of experiencing ours — ours isn’t perfect, we need others to learn from.  And if enough Chinese, etc. families could be convinced to become modern homesteaders, you need them everywhere if your culture is to prosper.  Values you know.  American need examples of the old standards in our modern lives.

Another example later.

I thought of an even better example than the Amish, the single Amazonian tribe in all the world that has not assimilated.  If you are different enough, you won’t be able to.  Someone should be doing genetics and brain scans on those people, they think very differently.

=======2.5 years after I wrote this, I re-read it yet again. I hereby especially brag about the number of dimensions in which “I would tell you how qualified I was in advising caution, but you might believe me” simultaneously warps your mind. I have laughed contemplating that dynamic ambiguity every time I re-read the piece. Yes, I have that kind of mind.

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