It takes two to tango, goes the cliché, a truth so evident even the cliché must blush with embarrassment for expressing it. But what is true of the tango is no less the case for the complex immigration dance in which the newcomer is expected to partner with the cultural norms and usages of his adoptive country—or, to be precise, was expected to do so before the terpsichorean disaster of multiculturalism introduced the scrum we see daily enacted before our eyes.
The successful integration of the immigrant into society demands a series of intricate, syncopated steps: he (or she, as it goes without saying) must learn the language well enough to function in the marketplace and the public square; should acquire a familiarity with at least the rudiments of the country’s history; needs to seek employment so as not to become a burden on an overextended welfare system; and must abide by his oath of loyalty and assimilate peacefully into the life of nation.
The conventional metaphor regarding optimal immigration is what is known as the “melting pot,” the paradigm developed in the United States, not the “salad bowl” model prevalent in Canada and Europe. The melting pot works, more or less; the salad bowl, with its fragmented ingredients, plainly does not. A nation composed of immiscible elements is asking for trouble. To revert to my controlling metaphor, immigrants must learn to dance chest to chest and hip to hip with the partner they have agreed to tango with.
All too often, the synergy does not “take.” Indeed, an alternative form of tango has become popular in recent years. The tango nuevo, as it’s called, provides for an open embrace which permits the “leader” to perform all manner of figures and evolutions of his choosing. Similarly, the immigration dance has become “heteronormative,” that is, the “lead” falls to the arrivalist who creates a kind of hyphenated space in order to impose the motifs he prefers on the other.
The tango nuevo is fine and dandy on a Rioplatense dance floor, but it does not belong in the multicultural ballroom. This means, of course, that there is no room for the separating hyphen in forming one’s national identity. Responding to the current events in Egypt, an Egyptian-Canadian interviewed on CBC radio affirmed, without the slightest awareness of the discrepancy, “I am proud of my country.” The question that naturally arises is: which country? For this particular individual, who has been long settled in Canada, the answer is dismayingly clear. He is not dancing to Canada’s tune, but to the exotic strains of another cultural and political world.
One recalls, too, that during the 2006 Israel/Lebanon war, the Canadian government repatriated, at taxpayer largesse, several thousand Lebanese-Canadians caught in the midst of the turmoil. After hostilities had ceased and a year or so had passed, most of these hyphenated beneficiaries of what they considered their entitlement as Canadians returned to their sunny Mediterranean billet as native Lebanese.
What we are observing in all too many cases is not a dance in which two partners agree to enact the proper steps, but a razzia, a raid by one party upon the generosity of another while retaining what amounts to an alien and often parasitical identity. Canada is especially prone to such depredations. As Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, points out, “Canada has the highest relative level of immigration in the developed world” and is, additionally, saddled with a judiciary that is soft on refugee claims. Again, this is asking for trouble, and there has been plenty of it. Our position requires excessive caution and stringent rules of admission, both in the protocols governing the reception of illegals to our shores and the vetting of legitimate applications.
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