Dr. Putnam's Bunker-Buster
If you were looking for a truce in the immigration wars once the Bush-Kennedy amnesty went down to defeat, look again.
Communities, cities, states are passing tough new laws to deal with the 12-20 million illegal aliens in our midst. Town likes Hazelton, Pa., and Farmers Branch, Texas, which sought to punish landlords who rent to and businesses that hire "undocumented workers," have been hauled before federal judges by the ACLU. Arizona has passed a law to de-certify and close businesses caught hiring illegals twice. Protests have begun over removal of National Guard troops from the border.
The Department of Homeland Security is getting off its posterior to demand that businesses, when told the Social Security numbers of employees do not match Social Security Administration records, clear up the discrepancy in 90 days, or fire the workers, or face stiff fines.
Mitt Romney is raking Rudy Giuliani for maintaining New York's status as a "sanctuary city," where cops cannot ask criminal suspects to prove they belong in the country. Failure by New York cops to learn the illegal status of four thugs and deport them enabled them to stay in town, where they kidnapped and sexually assaulted a Queens woman for three hours in a shack near Shea Stadium.
Comes now a blockbuster report by political scientist Robert Putnam, author of the runaway bestseller "Bowling Alone." Putnam provides supporting fire from Harvard Yard for those who say America needs a time-out from mass immigration, be it legal or illegal, like the immigration moratorium we had from 1924-1965.
"E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century" is the title of Putnam's five-year study, which makes hash out of the politically correct cliché, "Our diversity is our strength."
After 30,000 interviews, Putnam concludes and reports, against his own progressive convictions, that ethnic and racial diversity can be devastating to communities and destructive of community values.
The greater the diversity the greater the distrust, says Putnam. In racially and ethnically mixed communities, not only do people not trust strangers, they do not even trust their own kind. They withdraw into themselves, they support community activity less, they vote less.
"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down,' that is, to pull in like a turtle," writes Putnam.
They tend to "withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."
Writes columnist John Leo, "Putnam adds a crushing footnote: His findings 'may underestimate the real effects of diversity on social withdrawal.'"
Putnam is an optimist about the long-term, but his optimism seems rooted less in his findings than in his hopes and America's experience with the Great Wave of immigration from 1890 to 1920.
But that Great Wave was followed by the Great Lull — little or no immigration from Coolidge through JFK to 1965, when LBJ opened the floodgates, though he probably had no idea what he was doing with the Immigration Act of 1965, which goes unmentioned in his memoirs.
Putnam's implications are ominous.
America is expected to add something like 100-120 million people in four-to-five decades, almost all people of color who have never before been fully assimilated into any First World nation. Every great city is going to look like Los Angeles, and, as Putnam reported earlier, Los Angeles is a textbook example of a multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual city where levels of suspicion and mistrust approach the maximum.
As we know, it is the legal immigrant community that is the sea in which the illegals swim, feed and flourish. And if legal immigration from the Third World increases the levels of suspicion and mistrust, not only among immigrants and native-born but also among all minorities, and even within each ethnic and racial community, what are we doing?
For this is about whether America in thirty or forty years is going to be a giant dystopia, in T.R.'s phrase, "a tangle of squabbling nationalities" and not really a country or nation or people at all.
Between 1924 and 1965, the Melting Pot worked. It converted the children of 15 million European immigrants into American citizens with shared traditions, values and culture.
But today's immigration is different. And today's America is different. The numbers coming are huge, and they are coming from countries, cultures and civilizations whose peoples have never before been assimilated by any European nation. And they are arriving in an America whose Melting Pot is broken and whose elites lack the vision to see or the moral courage to confront the imminent peril.
Politically correctness may yet prove fatal to the republic.
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