I like Fareed Zakaria, and I like his show on CNN, GPS. Recently, he wrote an article in the Washington Post saying that what makes America exceptional is that America is founded on the idea of openness, and the mixture of people. He argues that our diversity is what makes us unique. He argues that we should be tolerant, and not put limits, or restrictions on immigration into the United States. I agree with him on the above points, but I do believe that there is an issue that he is ignoring, and that I would like him to the address. I do believe that we should be tolerant, and we should be open, and welcoming, but tolerance is a two-way street.

Some of the religious Muslims, and other groups who now wish to come to the United States have no interest in assimilating into Western democratic culture. They don’t want to adopt our ways, and values. Yes, I do believe that the United States has a tradition of being a melting pot of cultures from people of many lands, and that’s what makes us strong, but what happens when people come here who have no interest in melting?

I certainly do believe that it is wrong to ban an entire religion from the United States. To ban Muslims would be wrong because banning an entire group is discrimination, and that is most certainly not the American way of doing things. On the other hand, I do believe that we as Americans have every right to make it clear to the immigrants who come here that they must assimilate in some fashion to American culture, and accept our ways, and values at least to some degree. We should make it clear that they are welcome to join us in adding to American culture, but that they will never be allowed to supplant it with their own culture! I see nothing wrong with this. In the past, the immigrants who came here were required to assimilate into American culture, why should this new group of immigrants be treated differently?

I think that the new immigrants who come here need to be told that while they are free to practice their religion and culture, in every society freedom has its limits. Recently, I’ve been reading about how some of the new immigrants in Western Europe have been sexually assaulting women. By the way, I don’t know why they are called migrants. Migrants are people who go back and forth between two places. I don’t think these people will be going back anytime soon, so they are immigrants, not migrants. Anyway, I digress.

I understand that many of the new immigrants in Western Europe are not accustomed to seeing women with their breasts exposed, and this may be something that is very difficult for them to get used to. I know from experience that once I went to Norway, and saw a topless woman sunbathing in the park, and that was an extremely awkward experience for me. It must be incredibly difficult for them to go from a culture in which all they see is women covered from head to toe to one in which the young women run around-half naked all the time. I can’t blame them for wanting to touch those women, if I were in their situation, I might do the same. However, there is an issue about whether countries that have customs and values that are so different from that of these Muslim immigrants are really appropriate places for these people to live.

I think the Syrian refugees would be much happier, and everyone else would be much happier if they immigrated to countries that shared their customs and values instead of emigrating to countries that do not. I’m not saying that the Syrian refugees should be kept out of Western countries, but I do think that when they arrive they should immediately be informed of what kind of things they will see and experience in the host country, and that they should think very carefully, and seriously about whether or not they will be able to adapt to the culture, and values of the host country. Maybe they won’t like what they hear, but that’s the point. Maybe they will decide that the Western democracies of Europe, or the United States of America are just not for them, and that’s okay. However, I think we do a great disservice both to ourselves, and to them as well, if we do not tell them what kind of behavior they can expect from us, and what kind of behavior we expect from them in return.

In the past, immigrants mostly came from countries that shared our values, and customs, but now more and more they are coming from countries that do not. I realize that this is not the same issue as people who come here to commit terrorist acts, but I do believe that it is related in that I do believe that many immigrants come here with misconceptions about just exactly what life is like in the United States of America, and that these misconceptions lead to isolation, anger, and ultimately radicalization. Tolerance on our part is very important, but I think we need to make very clear to the new immigrants who come here that they will not be welcome here if they are unwilling to be as tolerant of our ways and customs as we should be of their ways and customs. Fareed Zakaria has spoken many times about how Americans should be open and welcoming to new immigrants, but I’ve never heard him speak about what their responsibilities are toward us. In some future program, I wish he would address the issues that I have raised here.

© 2016 Michael Ethan Landau all rights reserved