Among the statistics that support Mr. Senzai’s claim: 43 percent of Muslims believe that their co-religionists who come to the U.S. should “adopt American customs,” while only 26 percent believe they should “try to remain distinct”; the proportion of Muslim Americans classed as having low income is only 2 percent more than the general population, as against 23 percent in Spain, 22 percent in Britain and 18 percent in both Germany and France; 47 percent of Muslim Americans think of themselves as Muslim first and American second, whereas 81 percent of Muslims in Britain, 69 percent in Spain and 66 percent in Germany identify themselves primarily by religion rather than by nationality.
Horrifyingly for European elites, the reason for America’s relative success when it comes to assimilation may lie with one of the prime targets of their scorn—the great American public.
To talk of the U.S. as a nation of immigrants may now sound like rhetorical boilerplate. But it is true, nonetheless, that a country where even the most dominant groups are not natives in the true sense differs fundamentally from European societies.
As Peter Salins of the Manhattan Institute has argued, “The real secret of American assimilation is that the native-born Americans—not the immigrants—have made it work …. They have done so by letting them come, letting them quickly become citizens, according them a full complement of American civil rights, and treating them in myriad ways, both large and small, as equals.”
This is not to deny that America has always had its own nativists, nor that it has fitted the description outlined by Mr. Salins better in the past than it does in the present. But it is, nevertheless, almost impossible to imagine a figurehead of European conservatism saying about their own nation what Ronald Reagan said of America in his farewell address in 1989:
“In my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace …. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”
In recent years, Europeans have derided America for everything from its choice of President to its allegedly pernicious influence on popular culture.
That Atlantic rift also makes it unlikely that Europeans will be willing to follow the American example on the assimilation of immigrants.
That’s a shame. A few flags on lawns might do the world of good.