The History of Integration in Europe and America

When I wrote a couple of days ago that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is wrong to blame immigrants to Germany for failing to adapt to German norms quickly enough, one commenter said that I was wrong to say that American history shows that integration is possible. He also argued that the history of Europe for the last few hundred years has been “wrapped up in the useless suppression of minorities.” In fact, for the most part both European and American history show just how well integration works, and just how quickly the cultural conflicts of the past can be forgotten.


Obviously, there are longstanding cultural and ethnic conflicts in Europe, between, for example, the Flemings and the Walloons in Belgium, or with the Basques in Spain. But the mere fact that we think of people as being German, or French, or Italian at all—rather than as, say, Bavarian, Breton, or Sicilian—shows just how quickly groups can integrate. Two hundred years ago, Germany, France, and Italy weren't really nations in the modern sense, but were loose confederations of ethnically, linguistically, and culturally different groups. Where once we would have had to distinguish between Alsatians, Normans, Bretons, Provencals, and Occitans, today we see only French people.

The same process has been at work in the U.S. It struck me as ironic that the commenter who objected to my claim that American history shows integration is possible should have an Irish name. In the middle of the 19th century, Irish immigrants were widely seen as different and unwilling to integrate in much the same way as Hispanic immigrants are today. Likewise, as I have written, Catholics were viewed with much the same suspicions as Muslims are today. Just a hundred years later we elected an Irish Catholic President in John F. Kennedy. Today it wouldn’t even occur to most Irish Americans that they were ever second class citizens. The process of integration can be painful, but it is forgotten soon enough. A generation from now, it may be just as normal to see someone wearing a headscarf as it is to see someone wearing a cross.

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

Videos
  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less