We are blind to the contradictions in welcoming an immigrant but not making him one of us.
Multiculturalism — as opposed to the notion of a multiracial society united by a single culture — has become an abject contradiction in the modern Western world. Romance for a culture in the abstract that one has rejected in the concrete makes little sense. Multiculturalists talk grandly of Africa, Latin America, and Asia, usually in contrast to the core values of the United States and Europe. Certainly, in terms of food, fashion, music, art, and architecture, the Western paradigm is enriched from other cultures. But the reason that millions cross the Mediterranean to Europe or the Rio Grande to the United States is for something more that transcends the periphery and involves fundamental values — consensual government, free-market capitalism, the freedom of the individual, religious tolerance, equality between the sexes, rights of dissent, and a society governed by rationalism divorced from religious stricture.
Somehow that obvious message has now been abandoned, as Western hosts lost confidence in the very society that gives us the wealth and leisure to ignore or caricature its foundations. The result is that millions of immigrants flock to the West, enjoy its material security, and yet feel little need to bond with their adopted culture, given that their hosts themselves are ambiguous about what others desperately seek out.
Why would Anwar al-Awlaki, another U.S. citizen, whose family was welcomed to the United States for sanctuary from the misery and violence of Yemen, grow to despise America and devote the latter part of his adult life to terrorizing the United States? He certainly need not have conducted his hatred from a Virginia mosque when all of the Middle East was ripe for his activism. Was Awlaki ever reminded in school or by any religious figure why exactly America was more tolerant of Muslims than Yemen was of Christians? Or did he hate his country because it treated Muslims humanely in a way that he would never treat Christians? Why did Mohamed Morsi wish to go to university in the U.S. or teach in the California State University system — given that California values were antithetical to his own Muslim Brotherhood strictures? Was it because Morsi understood that American education would not do to him what he will soon do to Egyptian education?
The United Kingdom is currently reeling from the beheading of a British soldier by two British subjects whose fathers had fled from violence-prone Nigeria. Why did they not return to Nigeria, carve out new lives there, and find their roots? Is it because there are too many in Nigeria like themselves who take machetes to the streets? For that matter, why do some Pakistani immigrants in cold, foggy Britain brag of establishing Sharia there? Is it because they wish to follow their version of Sharia in a liberal Western society that is more accommodating than are the radical Islamists whom they so often praise from afar?
Is Britain to be run in the shadows by some diehard Western traditionalists pulling the levers of free-market capitalism, democracy, and freedom of the individual, so that in its plazas and squares others have the freedom and wherewithal to damn just those values? In Britain, as in the West in general, deportation is a fossilized concept. Unity is passé. Patriotism is long suspect. The hip metrosexual cultures of the urban West strain to find fault in their inheritance, and seem to appreciate those who do that in the most cool fashion — but always with the expectation that there will be some poor blokes who, in terms of clean water, medical care, free speech, and dependable electricity, ensure that London is not Lagos, that Stockholm is not Damascus, and that Los Angeles is not Nuevo Laredo.