We are blind to the contradictions in welcoming an immigrant but not making him one of us.
Multiculturalism — as opposed to the notion of a multiracial society united by a single culture — has become an abject contradiction in the modern Western world. Romance for a culture in the abstract that one has rejected in the concrete makes little sense. Multiculturalists talk grandly of Africa, Latin America, and Asia, usually in contrast to the core values of the United States and Europe. Certainly, in terms of food, fashion, music, art, and architecture, the Western paradigm is enriched from other cultures. But the reason that millions cross the Mediterranean to Europe or the Rio Grande to the United States is for something more that transcends the periphery and involves fundamental values — consensual government, free-market capitalism, the freedom of the individual, religious tolerance, equality between the sexes, rights of dissent, and a society governed by rationalism divorced from religious stricture. Somehow that obvious message has now been abandoned, as Western hosts lost confidence in the very society that gives us the wealth and leisure to ignore or caricature its foundations. The result is that millions of immigrants flock to the West, enjoy its material security, and yet feel little need to bond with their adopted culture, given that their hosts themselves are ambiguous about what others desperately seek out.
Why did the family of the Boston bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, even wish to come to Boston? If they really were in danger back home in the Islamic regions within Russia, why would members of the family return to the source of their supposed dangers? And if the city of Boston, the state of Massachusetts, and the federal government of the United States extended the Tsarnaevs years’ worth of public assistance, why would such largesse incur such hatred of the United States in the hearts of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar? Obviously, the Tsarnaevs had some sense that the United States was a freer, more humane, and more prosperous place than the Russia they left, but they also felt no love for it, felt no pressure from their hosts to cultivate such love — and believed that they could continue to live as Russian Muslims inside the United States. Did not the Tsarnaevs flee the Muslim hinterlands of Russia because they did not like the thought of things like pressure cookers full of ball bearings exploding and killing and maiming the innocent on the street?
Why for that matter did Major Nidal Hasan, a Palestinian-American citizen whose family was welcomed into the United States from the war-torn West Bank, so detest his adopted country that he would kill 13 fellow Americans and injure 32 others rather than just return in disillusionment to the land of his forefathers? Was it the idea that he could square the circle of being a radical anti-American Muslim, but with the advantages of subsidized education, material security, and freedom of expression …read more