Of course there are American flags in Dearborn

Of course there are American flags in Dearborn

Brandon Pohl

Donald Trump’s Executive Order to block travel from six Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East was blocked by a judge in Hawaii just hours before it was scheduled to go into effect. The new travel ban was a revision of the previous ban that was blocked by a judge in California. The repeated pressure of the Trump campaign to pass this ban brings up the question of why they find this issue so important. It is most likely caused by Trump’s desire to fulfill his campaign promise of a Muslim ban. This promise was greatly favored by his supporters. But why do so many Americans feel people from these countries are such a threat? A student at West Ottawa who studies politics and current events gives his answer to this question. His passionate beliefs, though, generally do not stand up to review.

  According to this student, the reason so many Americans fear people from the Middle East coming to our country is the belief that these people do not assimilate to American culture. “While there is no doubt many immigrants who gladly become American in every sense, many instead keep the language and customs from their old countries and pass the same resentment toward assimilation onto their children.” As an example, this student points to Dearborn, a neighborhood in the Detroit area with a  high Arab population. “When you go there, it doesn’t even look like you’re in America anymore. There are no American flags, all the signs are in Arabic.” Yet a simple trip down the main street of Dearborn, Michigan Ave, using Google Street view shows that, while this student’s statement has some truth behind it, it is still a gross exaggeration. Most of the signs are in English, with a few of the locally owned buildings having Arabic translations of their signs. There are plenty of American flags flying. While most of them are at the Ford dealership, there is one at the McDonalds, one at a shish kabob restaurant, and right next to it, one at the strip club.

  A better example of a lack of assimilation into American culture would be a different neighborhood just east of Dearborn called Mexicantown-Southwest Detroit. Here all the signs are in Spanish, and the number of Mexican flags greatly outweigh the number of American flags. This student also addresses this: “We now have to clarify that we indeed speak English (America’s undisputed main language for centuries), we see a large amount of Mexican flags and even ‘make America Mexico again’ signs at anti-Trump rallies. Most disturbing, while it is fringe at the moment, there is a ‘reconquista’ movement in the United States, a movement which holds the idea that Hispanics should reclaim the western regions of the United States that were formerly a part of Mexico.” He also says he can see the effects of this anti-assimilation  here at West Ottawa, “There are Mexican-American students who insist that I am American and they are Mexican, despite the fact that they are just as American as I am.” This student admits that this “Reconquista” movement is unlikely to ever be taken seriously, but there are many other faults with his argument.

  America has no official language for the same reason we have no official religion. Spanish has been increasingly spoken in our government, with an address to Congress having recently been given in Spanish, and with former Vice President candidate Tim Kaine speaking Spanish on the campaign trail. Spanish is the largest non-English language spoken in America, and the fastest growing. Most native Spanish speakers, especially younger immigrants and first-generation Americans, are still forced to learn English in order to live in our society. Most of the world has to deal with American culture growing in their countries, especially in Europe, where many people speak English as well as their native language and have had no issues related to having a multicultural society.

   America has always been a nation of immigrants. Less than 2% of the Americans can claim to have Native American heritage. Yet Americans have always feared the next wave of immigration. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, people were afraid of the Irish and the Chinese. Many of the same fears surround the Mexican and Arab immigrants today; some believe they are bringing more crime, more drugs, more poverty. FBI statistics have proven that places with higher immigrant populations tend to have less crime, and immigrants have been demonstrably better for the economy because they give America a steadily growing workforce, and they are more likely to be entrepreneurs. What people are really afraid of is that these immigrants will not assimilate to American culture. But how is this different from immigrants of the 19th and 20th century? Wherever immigrants settled, cultural zones popped up. These places still exist in many major cities in places like Chinatowns and Little Italys. But according to this student, the difference doesn’t come from the immigrants themselves, who were incapable of assimilation because of language and cultural barriers, but from the first generation of Americans.

  “Immigrants who came as children or were first generation Americans readily assimilated into American society, because they loved our country and had a desire to become American in every sense.” This student gave an example of this using a story from his grandmother. “Her grandparents came from Germany seeking a better life, and just as important, to become American. They forbade their children from speaking German at home and bred in them a sense of patriotism and duty to the country that had provided so much for them. They didn’t keep their language and customs from the Old World because they didn’t want to be German anymore, they wanted to be American… that’s why they came to America.”

  “Now comes the important question: so what? What’s the big deal if some Hispanic-Americans want to identify with the nations of their ancestor’s origins. So what if Middle Eastern Americans want to keep their cultures and customs?” said this student. He points to Europe as evidence of what happens when Multiculturalism fails. There have been many claims of places in Europe called “No-Go zones.” These “No-Go zones” are places with such a high Middle Eastern immigrant population that they no longer operate under the laws of the host country, but rather under Sharia law. They are called no-go zones because the native citizens are not allowed to enter these areas, or else they risk being beaten or killed by the immigrants in these areas. Sharia law is a form of law based on a strict interpretation of the Qur’an. In the Middle East, many countries use Sharia law for domestic affairs, with a few countries using it for public affairs. “Middle-Eastern culture (especially elements like Sharia Law) is in many ways contradictory to Western values. Sharia Law does not embrace women’s rights, LGBT rights, freedom of religion, or freedom of speech (especially against Islam) to name a few flagrant violations,” this student said.

   In emails from John Podesta that were leaked by Wikileaks, he says “Europe may have survived Nazism and Communism, but it appears multiculturalism – the third major strain of western extremism – will be the death of the continent.” Podesta is an outspoken liberal who has worked with Presidents Obama and Clinton, as well as worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign. Despite this, he still feels multiculturalism will be the downfall of Europe and, if allowed, America.These “No-Go zones” that both this student and Podesta are referencing have been widely circulated in the news, but there has been no evidence of these places outside of extreme right websites. Fox News has often reported on these “No-Go zones” but has always retracted and apologized for these claims because of a lack of evidence. There are plenty of places in Europe with high crime rates where tourists are advised to avoid. In some of these places, the local police have stopped interfering, and may even try to keep other people out. Some of these places have high Muslim populations, but this issue is more like the South Side of Chicago than an invasion of Sharia law. They are just places that are too dangerous for people to go wandering into.

  As evident by the results of our recent presidential election, many people are afraid of the recent influx of immigrants to this country. Most of this fear is unjustified and is the result of ignorance, but as this student has shown, some of the worries people have are backed by real fears. That being said, the claims these fears are based on are still built on false evidence and assumptions. Immigration has only ever been good for America. It is what has helped build our economy, and multiculturalism is what has created our culture. Some of our favorite foods have their roots in immigrants from China, Italy, and Mexico to name a few. Immigration has created a rich diversity of culture in our nation. While the immigrants of the past may have taken our language and many of our customs when they came here, they still kept their own culture. Even the city of Holland -named after the country in Europe the immigrants came from- still celebrates the culture of the immigrants who settled here during Tulip Time. It is this diversity of culture that has made America great and will continue to make it great in the future.