Mike Gonzalez, the Heritage Foundation’s vice president of communications, has had a rough week. He was tasked with defending a Heritage report about the economic impact of immigration reform that was statistically faulty, co-authored by a white supremacist and bashed by other conservatives.
The controversy over the report, however, has overshadowed an op-ed that Gonzalez wrote for the Denver Post last week that pins at least some of the blame for the Boston Marathon bombings on what he sees as a new trend in American schools of teaching “multiculturalism and diversity” rather than “love of country.”
But we know one thing for sure: He wasn't taught that assimilation into American society was desirable. As I'm finding while researching a book on Hispanics — indeed, what I experienced as a young Cuban coming to this country in the early 1970s — we no longer teach patriotic assimilation. By that I mean love of country, not just its creature comforts.
We teach the opposite, in fact — that we're all groups living cheek by jowl with one another, all with different advantages and legal class protection statuses, but not really all part of the same national fabric. In other words, we teach multiculturalism and diversity, and are officially making assimilation very hard to achieve.
If Dzhokhar and his brother Tamarlan are guilty of the acts of terrorism they are accused of because they succumbed to Islamist radicalism, then they are monsters who are personally responsible for turning against the land that welcomed them. Tamarlan has paid with his life, and Dzhokhar will be dealt judgment.
But as we grapple now with the thorny question of immigration, how to handle the millions of people who started to arrive at mid-century in a massive immigration wave, we could do worse than look at the affairs in Boston for a clue on whether our current approach works.
Over the past few days, many people pondering the question of how the Tsarnaevs could have acted the way they did have discounted that lack of assimilation could be the case, emphasizing that the brothers Tsarnaev lived in Cambridge, "one of the most diverse and inclusive places in America."
The problem is indeed with an "inclusive" approach that considers it wrong to teach love of a country so generous that it takes in two foreigners from a far-away land, gives them refuge, welcomes them in and gives them a free education. To have done so might have precluded the radical brain washing that led to the bombing.
This absurd argument is basically the one put forward last week by Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian.