A major social problem facing America today is immigration. Our society is being torn apart through suspicion, political ranting, violent terrorism, vandalism, and deep fears. I am deeply concerned for the future of the USA in this area. Immigration is not the real problem; it is the social conflicts that arise from multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the same geographical space. If Americans do not find resources to blend in peace, then our current social problems will escalate to social wars and violence.
There is a civil war in Syria that has caused the mass exodus of thousands of refugees. Many of these refugees are Muslim and many Americans are fearful of their ability to adapt to American culture, values, and norms. American citizens can see the turmoil in many Muslim countries and do not want that violent unrest imported. The thought of people bombing schools because they are against education is fearful. There is an irony here because it is for humanitarian principles that American immigration policy is welcoming refugees from war torn Islamic countries, and it is possible that in future generations, violence will be our reward.
Islam as a religious institution has aggression and conflict imbedded in its values. I am speaking of an institution not of individual people who must be given the right to be judged on the merits of their own character. Islam has aggression written within its creed, “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere” (Surah 8:39) and “If you gain mastery over them in war…” (Surah 8:57) and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Surah 8:60, Quran). Islam has 14 centuries of aggression towards outsiders. Its founder led the first violent incursion against Mecca; as the leader is, so follow the people.
American immigration policy has historically served the security of the homeland. Immigration regulation is not expected to allow entrance by individuals with an explicit agenda to harm citizens or promote violence uprising against the government. Currently the USCIS has a rigorous screening policy for Syrian refugees. This is not a racist policy, it is proper concern.
In the beginning of Islam, when Muhamad was delivering his message, the country was a social mess with idolatry, drunkenness, and many other social problems. Islam was able to that stabilize society and so it has always been a religion of social reform. It does not pretend to separate government and religion the way we attempt to do here. Even in America we are in constant tension over this issue. We should be aware that as Muslims gain local majority they will have to choose how to adapt to their new land. Many Muslims choose to see their ancient text with a moderate view and many realize that extremism invalidates their religious credibility.
We are a pluralist society and a nation of immigrants. In the past assimilation was expected but now we value cultural diversity. Our society must choose the minimal level of integration or adaption necessary to live within the borders, and those choosing to live here should acknowledge these norms. Many Muslims do have a history of integration into American society while retaining their ethnic heritage. There are also examples of Muslims pushing Sharia as soon as they gain majority strength. Considering what Whites immigrants did to Native Americans we should not be naïve about future possibilities. Muslim immigrants are coming to America by their own choice. I hope they are choosing to accept the values of a pluralistic society.
We should also be aware that US foreign policies contribute to terrorism. Our ethnocentric view of the world has led to policies of democratic expansion/imperialism, which will always lead to resistance from the oppressed. President George Washington warned America to not get involved in the conflicts of other countries. Since then we have moved towards policies of intrusion into other governments, especially since World War 2. There is no justifiable excuse to invade countries to replace their rulers; even when their rulers are tyrants. Iraq, Libya, and Syria are examples of our tragic errors. Muslim governments understand dictators because Islam is based upon authoritarian rule. That is their problem and not for Americans to solve! Other cultures may not separate church and state the way we do. Muslims may view our policies as a religious assault. What we see as defending democratic values they may view as a religious war. American leaders have been sadly ignorant of cultural issues. I propose a constitutional amendment to define foreign policy, restraining the American urge to intrude into other governments. As a democracy we need to urge our leaders in this choice.
Race and Majority Power
I have deliberately chosen to use the word “majority” rather than “Whites.” Whites happen to be the current majority in America, but the principles I am discussing apply to other countries and eras where Whites are not the majority. To use the term “Whites” is racist. It makes a certain race guilty of crimes that are committed by most any group in the majority position. Dealing with the issue of majority power and control is my goal, not debasing any ethnic group. Power is the critical issue; power to control a society and its norms, structures, and laws, is the essence of this social problem.
Immigrants claim that objections to immigration are racially based, but the objectors to immigration claim to simply want to protect their lifestyles and values. Many Americans expect assimilation by immigrants into the American “melting pot” as was the norm in past generations. But the modern paradigm in our pluralistic society is the American “salad bowl” where immigrants retain their former cultural identity and may not even learn the majority language. American culture has been largely shaped by values of the majority white Anglo ethnic group so it is understandable that the majority could fear the loss of their way of life as they are displaced by new ethnicities.
Cultural norms are not evil, they can become oppressive, but in general they are valuable to help us live together. In my sociology text I read, “In any culture, there exists a set of ideas about what is right, just, and good, as well as what is wrong and unjust. Norms are the common rules of a culture that govern the behavior of people belonging to it” (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014 p. 55). The sociologist Emile Durkheim foresaw the turmoil of a society where norms were disrupted through many groups moving into the industrial cities; industrialization and urbanization, and called this a state of “anomie” or normlessness (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014). America is the classic example of this state and the resulting social tension. Many of America’s ethnic majority are simply dreading the loss of social cohesion that comes from shared norms and values. If we are honest, we know that any society on earth would feel the same.
Racism is elevating our own ethnic race above others and using race as justification for oppression. Anytime we choose elevate our group above others or use privilege to oppress others we engage the conflict attitude, which will destroy America. For multiple ethnicities to dwell together on the same piece of land we must make hard choices. We want everyone to have the right to be proud of their heritage! We want to rejoice in the colorful diversity all around us; this is the future of America! It is our choice.
Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016
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