Sunday, April 30, 2006

My Anthem

You probably heard about the new Spanish version of the Star Spangled Banner. While it is being billed as a way for Mexicans to share in the national anthem, it has other overtones. For one thing, it is not a translation. The first verse is pretty similar but the second verse if completely different.
So what is the point? It appears that they are saying that they are Americans on their own terms. This is a bad thing.
Understand that I am generally pro-immigrant. I have worked with a couple dozen immigrants from many different countries over my career. Many of these people were hired at my suggestion. The most recent, a woman from Columbia, started a week ago. I'm also fine with my daughter dating a second-generation Cuban.
The thing is that all of these people assimilated. They all speak English and most have become citizens. Similarly, the children of most Mexicans assimilate.
That could change in the near future. It is increasingly easy to live in America while retaining Mexican culture. Even in Columbus which is pretty far north, we have Spanish radio stations. The cable companies carry Telemundo. There is a Spanish weekly newspaper. Even self-serve check-out at supermarkets offer Spanish.
Countries with unassimilated minorities almost always have problems. Many European countries are now facing serious problems including France which has seen waves of violence from unassimilated immigrants. Unassimilated minorities in England were responsible for last year' bombings. Even long-established bi-lingual countries like Canada have severe stresses.
I would like to see some sort of official recognition of the current illegal immigrants. At the same time, I want to see them make an effort to assimilate. This is a fair social contract - you can come here but you are expected to become Americans. Otherwise we will see the creation of a permanent Spanish-speaking underclass.

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