Assimilating Immigrants Into American Culture

Written by Tom Tancredo



 This past June, Right Side News attended the American Cause conference in McLean, Virginia. The American Cause has urged the conservative movement and Republican Party to reject foreign interventionism, globalist trade , open borders, and big government. Tom Tancredo discussed assimilating immigrants into American culture.


Tom Tancredo: I really do appreciate your kind introduction and recognition of the work I have done in trying to address the issue of illegal immigration.  I believe we have made some great progress. 

Now the reason as to why I go on this sometimes lonely journey, especially at the beginning of my career in Congress, was because I believed there was something significant about the issue of immigration, both legal and illegal, into the United States, something we had not really dealt with for a long time. 

We had talked about it and there was some knowledge of the economic issue around immigration, and its cost to us as a society. 

We needed to address how much we have to pay for the infrastructural costs inherent in massive immigration of low-skilled, low-wage workers who take advantage of the schools, the hospitals, etc.  We know that for the most part, it did not benefit the taxpayers of the United States to bring in these low-skilled people, working for very low wages.  When you add to that illegal immigration of the same type of people, you compound the problem because, of course, they are not paying income taxes generally, but most of them, actually, are able to (believe it or not), file for earned income tax credits.

The fact is we did understand it was an economic burden on the United States, but nobody really cared.  In fact, people said, "It's not a good idea, but on the other hand, I've got this great gardener (or nanny or somebody who takes care of them), and I wouldn't want to see them go back, but yeah, I'm against illegal immigration except for this or that."  Even though we saw there was an economic cost to the taxpayers of this country, it just didn't rise to the level of concern that it should.

Another aspect to this that has always bothered me is the massive immigration, both legal and illegal, of people who do not wish to be Americans.  These are people who would not assimilate into the American ethos.  This, combined with what I call the "cult of multiculturalism," which has permeated our society since at least the 60's, was a much more serious problem than anything else we were talking about at the time, because we could deal with the economic issues that developed out of the massive immigration of low-skilled, low-wage workers.  However, it was very difficult and "touchy" to address this issue of the social cost of massive immigration of people who don't want to be Americans, combined with people telling them they should not be Americans, and that they should not assimilate into the American society, into the American ethos.

It brings up a lot of questions, of course.  Is there an American ethos, is there an American culture?  It's getting more and more difficult to define, it's true. 

There is a great book by a wonderful author, who died a few months ago, but was one of the greatest observers of the American political and social scene, named Samuel Huntington.  The book is called "Who Are We?"  He has written a number of books that I found fascinating, especially one called, "The Clash of Civilizations," which I believe is where we are.

It is a civilization clash we are in, not just a "war on terror."  I don't even like the phrase, "war on terror."  It's amorphous, you don't know what it really means and it clouds the issue as to exactly with whom we are at war; if indeed a war is going on, who is it with, terrorists?    We need to know exactly who the enemy is, what motivates them, and why they're doing what they're doing, in order for us to understand them and be successful.  Lao Tzu said, "Two things are very important in any conflict, one you have to know who your enemy is, and two, you have to know who you are." 

That's why it's important to have a country where people do have a common understanding of who they are.  The cult of multiculturalism wants us to think of America just as a place where we just reside, not a place where we are citizens.  The whole concept of citizenship is anathema to the cult of multiculturalism.

Citizenship is the concept that we are connected, maybe not by the color of our skin or our religion, but we are connected by something.  We are a diverse society; we have people from all over the world, different backgrounds, ideas, attitudes and opinions.  That makes it even more important for us to figure out a way to connect with each other.  There's got to be something that holds us together, because there is so much that pulls us apart.

So what is the one thing that we relied on for a long time, to actually begin that process of assimilation and begin the process of connecting and communicating, one to another, no matter where we are from?  It is the language.  That's why when people talk about the importance of everyone speaking the same language, it is not just a chauvinistic attitude, and it's a very important part of beginning to understand who we are.

With language, come a lot of things, by the way: A change of attitude and ideas and opinions about who we are.  My grandparents came here wanting a better life, wanting desperately to disconnect from the past and from what they were coming from and connect to where they were going.  And that was to the United States of America and they understood that English was the pathway.  That was something they had to do and wanted to do.  They wanted to become Americans.  It's not happening much anymore, and this is the greatest problem with massive immigration, both legal and illegal.

I was challenged one time because I said something controversial (I usually try to keep a very low profile). 

We were at an event in Florida, and someone asked me, "Well, what are you talking about, I don't understand, America needs this, you know,"  I said, "Here we are in Florida, I'll give you an example," I said, "we're not too far from Miami, which is essentially a third world country."

The next day this got out, and soon I received a letter from Jeb Bush.  He said, "We celebrate diversity, how can you say a thing like this, because we celebrate diversity down here."  I said, "Well, you know, I understand celebrating diversity, but when you make a religion out of it, which you essentially have, that's when it becomes problematic," and I pointed out to him something that was said in Time Magazine.  Time was quoting somebody who called themselves a leader in the Cuban community in Florida, a very large community, of course.  He was a professor, I think, at Florida State University, and he said, "We [the immigrant community] like Miami so much because it's a city in which there is absolutely no pressure to become an American."

That's what I mean.  I saw the other day that in Miami or Orlando, the city council passed an ordinance that all their employees had to wear underwear and use deodorant.  I said to myself, "I was right, there is a third world nature to this whole place." 

The fact is that there is no pressure to be an American.  Millions of people here feel exactly the same way, they don't want  pressure to be an American, and they're told by the Left, by the cult, that they should not be, that they should hang on to their own culture, hang on to their own language.  Now what I want to ask you is this:  Is it not a bit hypocritical, and a bit incongruous to say, "It is important for people to hang onto their culture, but not us!"

Isn't it weird that we have to throw our culture away?  Why is it not important for us to try to hang onto our own culture?  Samuel Huntington said, "Throughout American history, people who were not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants have become Americans by adapting Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture and political values.

It's a very important statement, because really that's what this was all based on, right?  You can dislike it, you can feel uneasy about it, but in reality that's exactly who we were, at least.  We were a nation based on these values, Anglo-Saxon Protestant values and ideas, such as Rule of Law, one of the most important.

Huntington notes that it's an argument for the importance of Anglo-Protestant culture, not for the importance of Anglo-Protestant people, and that's absolutely true.  I'm not an Anglo-Saxon, but we can appreciate the fact that we live in a country where there were these ideals formed on the basis of who we are . . . or at least were.

There are a lot of things that connect us.  It is amazing that there is such a disdain for these principles, yet if you open the gates all over the world, people come one way!  They flock to these ideas, because these ideas and principles have given us all that we have.  The richness of American life, not just in material form, has made us great, not just okay, not just the same; I absolutely reject the idea that all cultures are the same.  Baloney!

All ideas or attitudes are not the same.  Some are better than others!  Hence, people make decisions, and when they decide to get up and get out of wherever they are, leave home, hearth, family and everything, they're doing it for a reason . . . it's because what they are going to is better than where they were. 

Why is that so hard to deal with?  Why are we so sheepish about telling our children and grandchildren, telling everybody there's something really damn good here?

Let's preserve it, instead of adding fuel to the fire that's burning away at the sinew of America.

So, yes, I talk about immigration a lot; because in the bigger picture of this diverse cult of multiculturalism, the perversity of diversity, look what it's doing to us.  We are now so captured by the diversity crowd, that we are about ready to put a woman on the Supreme Court of the United States, not because of her skill, ability and competence as a jurist (60% of everything she's ruled on that has actually gone to an appeals court above her has been overturned).  A self-proclaimed "diversity baby," she says, "I got into law school, I got into all these schools, not because I had the ability, not because I had the grades, but because I was brown, a Latino."  She's admitting that she is not as competent as somebody else, but she's probably going to be on the Supreme Court.  Now remember, this woman is someone who, if she were being deposed or being questioned to be on a jury in any court in the United States of America, and she were to say, "I find it impossible to be impartial," she would be thrown off any jury in the country.  She's going to become a Supreme Court Justice for one reason, as she herself said, because she is brown, because she's Hispanic, and because she's a Liberal. 

Miguel Estrada had a lot of those characteristics, but as a Conservative, he absolutely could not fill out the necessary (liberal) checkbox.  I'll guarantee you this: in the entire course of my career in Congress, in the millions of words I have spoken on this issue, I guarantee you I have never once said anything that comes close to "I think white men would be better able to judge something than brown men."  Never have I said such a thing.

I'm called a racist for talking about these issues.  She makes comments like that and it's just an opinion, no big deal, we shouldn't talk about it.

Well, we should talk about it, we should expose it, and we should do everything we can.  We should talk to our children about who we are, what we are and then the fact that there is something great and wonderful about the United States, it's not like anywhere else, it's not just better, by God, it's the best.

I accept that idea, and I don't mind talking about it.  I think it behooves every single one of us to do exactly the same thing in any sphere of influence in which we operate.  Talk about the greatness of America, don't lose it, America is well worth your commitment.

I do commend that to you.

Thank you very much.

Tom Tancredo represented Colorado's 6th Congressional District for 10 years, where he emerged as the national leader of the immigration reform movement. He is currently co-chairman of Team America PAC and President of the Rocky Mountain Institution. 

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