Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Unique French handicaps for assimilating immigrants

I'd blogged a couple of days ago about my belief that Europe's stagnant, semi-Socialist economy is part of the problem behind both the riots and the growth of fundamentalist Islam, since it does not give immigrants any incentive to assimilate. I've now had the opportunity to read Stephen Schwartz's interesting New York Post article about the uniquely French bar to successful assimilation. The problem lies in the fact that France has established a binary system for immigrants. Unlike America, which encourages people to engage in the public square to obtain the benefits of Capitalism, France forces people, if they wish to enjoy any economic opportunities, to abandon everything they are and were before they came to France. That is, you are either entirely French, in language, religion (or, rather lack of religion), food, culture, everything, and potentially wealthy; or you are entirely whatever you were when you began (North African Muslim, North AFrican Jewish, etc.), and are completely barred from economic advancement:

[A]ssimilation in France means something very different from assimilation in America. Those who permanently pledge their allegiance to France must pay a much higher price: surrender of one's own identity, and full acceptance of "Frenchness" — meaning exclusive use of the French language, radical secularism, and, typically, abandonment of most attachments to the immigrant's former home. France also has a Jewish population near 1 million — the world's third-largest, after America and Israel — of which some 70 percent formerly lived in North Africa. Neither Muslim nor Jewish immigrants are particularly comfortable, today, with the effect of French social norms on their cultures. Both are outraged by the new French ban on head coverings in public schools — the Muslim hijab for girls, the Jewish kippah for boys. France embodies freedom from religion, not religious liberty. [Bold mine; italics in original.]
Scant surprise that people don't wish to accept this Devil's bargain, one that demands that they abandon everything they hold dear to have even a modicum of a chance in the dominant culture.