Immigration Without Assimilation Is Annihilation, Orlando Shooting Shows

Wallace Henley is an exclusive CP columnist. | (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)

Immigration without assimilation is annihilation.

Europe is proving that thesis right now, as have the massacres in San Bernardino and Orlando.

Recently, T.D. Jakes sounded an admirable call for the nation to unite as it seemed to have done after 9/11.

But unite around what?

Ethnicity? The United States is not a one-race nation. After decades of a huge struggle to reduce racial divisiveness mighty forces are working feverishly to split us.

Culture? True spontaneous multi-culturalism makes for a many-splendored society, and accentuates freedom. Forced and regulated multi-culturalism stifles the very atmosphere it tries to create.

Religion? If God grants the human freedom to believe or not, religion cannot be the unifier because it will be state-mandated compulsion.

The only viable rallying point is what Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington called "The American Creed." His book, Who Are We? should be required reading for formulating immigration policy. What has held the nation of immigrants together is the "Creed's" principles — the common belief in democracy, freedom, equality, individual rights, and other exceptional features.

"The American Creed is the unique creation of a dissenting Protestant culture," said Huntington. Yet it is not a religious creed, for that would only intensify division. Rather, said Dr. Huntington, "The American Creed, in short, is Protestantism without God, the secular credo of the 'nation with the soul of a church'" (quoting G.K. Chesterton).

Ironically it is because of that "secular credo" that Hindus are allowed in America to build temples, Muslims mosques, Jews synagogues, all varieties of Protestant Christians their churches, Catholics and Orthodox their cathedrals, and even the LGBTQ community their bars, nightclubs, and religious institutions.

Atheists need to thank the deity they do not believe exists for the fact they live in a culture that has believed in the "Creed" and defended their right to non-belief. The most strident in their crusades for "choice" should be the most vocal in their appreciation for the Judeo-Christian values that underlie the secular creed.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and I write in our book, Revival! Revolution! Rebirth! that our contemporary crisis has arisen from the attempts to separate the tree from the roots. Many Americans and their institutions want the freedoms and rights, but they also rebel against the source of those privileges. They are naïve about the outcomes of such rebellion.

No one seems more naïve at the moment than President Barack Obama — and one sincerely hopes it is mere naiveté.

"The central issue is not immigration but immigration without assimilation," said Dr. Huntington. The critical question is the extent to which current immigrants, "their successors, and descendants follow the path of earlier immigrants and be successfully assimilated into American society and culture, become committed Americans forswearing other national identities, and adhere through belief and action to the principles of the American Creed," Huntington wrote.

There would be no "homegrown" terrorists if there was a fervent commitment to helping all become "homegrown" Americans.

The problem reaches back into antiquity. As Tom DeLay and I write, Old Testament Israel, under the Ten Commandments and the whole of the Torah, became an exceptional nation in its time. This made Israel attractive to others, so the Torah had to address the issue of foreigners coming to live among the Hebrew people.

"You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt," says Exodus 23:9.

After the conquest of Ai, Joshua assembled all the people, "the stranger as well as the native," and read "all the words of the law," not missing anything "Moses had commanded" to the whole mass of people, including "the strangers who were living among them" (Joshua 8:33-35).

Joshua understood the "creed" that made Israel a great and appealing nation and wanted to make sure everyone ratified it, including immigrants.

The contemporary disintegration of Europe is neither the fault of Brexit nor immigration. Rather, it is the willful implosion of the European creedal core. EU leaders are like the demolition specialists who plant implosive material in the heart of old buildings. Those in Europe — not just the rulers, but the complacent people — should recognize that old structures are destroyed so that new ones can be constructed on their sites.

That's why immigration without assimilation can lead to annihilation.

Every American institution should be aware of the urgent need to encourage assimilation. I realized this in 1974. Walking through Tokyo's Narita Airport, I spotted a long line of Southeast Asian refugees awaiting a flight to Seattle. They wore tee shirts from the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and other humanitarian agencies, bearing the name of a Thai refugee camp.

I locked eyes with a teenaged boy at the very end of the queue. He smiled, and gave me an exuberant "thumbs up." I returned it, and wept all the way back to my gate, reflecting on the hope and excitement on their faces, and hoping they would find a happy, prosperous, secure, and free life in America.

I determined to do something. Our little church near Mobile, Alabama, began adopting refugees, conducting a weekly orientation. It included everything from how to mail letters to, yes, the roots and basics of The American Creed.

Later, in another church, we did the same with 125 Cambodian refugees. We taught them about the Bible, but we did not try to force conversion. In fact, we hosted one of the festivals they had celebrated back home in their Buddhist culture in our church fellowship hall, with our own church members serving tables.

The Cambodian family closest to our family ultimately made significant contributions to their new nation. The three children — only one of whom spoke English on arrival — were all inducted into the National Honor Society and became doctors, lawyers, and educators.

Their immigration with assimilation resulted in edification. Rather than "homegrown" terrorists they became "homegrown" builders of their communities.

Wallace Henley, a former Birmingham News staff writer, was an aide in the Nixon White House, and congressional chief of staff. He is a teaching pastor at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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