A reason to remember who we are

In light of recent multicultural and immigration issues in Germany, we Americans must remember our true identity. Last week Prime Minister of Germany, Andrea Merkel, declared the death of German multiculturalism: “At the start of the 60s we invited the guest-workers to Germany. We kidded ourselves for a while that they wouldn’t stay, that one day they’d go home. That isn’t what happened. And of course the tendency was to say: let’s be ‘multikulti’ and live next to each other and enjoy being together, [but] this concept has failed, failed utterly.” According to the Associated Press, the German government is taking a hard line toward what it considers to be “integration,” saying that not only do immigrants need to obey the laws but also “master the language and accept the country’s social norms.” Most other European nations are in the same boat. Many are unwelcoming to immigrants, but few dare to say it. However, Europe should be welcoming to immigrants: if not for the sake of being ‘multikulti,’ then because they need them. The population in Germany, and in all of Europe, is aging. The birth rate has been slowing for the past decade, and pretty soon there will not be enough young people to support the surplus of retirees. By declaring multiculturalism an “utter failure,” Chancellor Merkel is serving a serious blow to the future of German economic success, and also providing a reminder to the U.S. about that which makes us unique. The fact is that we are nation of immigrants and Germany is not. Our country was founded on the principle of being welcoming to all. By providing a “land of opportunity” for immigrants, we became the world’s largest economy. Immigrants are the lifeblood of our nation, and without them we would be nothing. Even though our Spanish-speaking neighbors below the border are causing anxiety for politicians and lawmakers, they are needed. When Stephen Colbert testified in front of Congress a couple weeks ago he brought attention to an important issue: immigrant labor. For most of the testimony he acted as though he was on Comedy Central. However, his true identity peeked through when explaining that immigrant laborers come and do our work but don’t have any rights, adding, “We still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me.” Although it would be a wonderful dream if everyone who came to America dutifully filled out their citizenship forms and could speak perfect English, we need to remember that our ancestors were once in their shoes. Now is the time we need to embody our identity as a nation of immigrants. Germany has given up. France is banning Burqas. All of Europe is on high terror alert. If not for economic or political security, we must show to the world that we are still an immigration nation because that’s who we are, it is our identity. Let’s not fall into the same hole as Germany.