...do your best to actually get to know the place a bit, will you?
The LA Times publishes an op-ed by one Irshad Manji, who tries to explain away the failure of some immigrants to integrate into European societies by refering to the class systems which are, according to her, still in place here:
'In Western Europe, by contrast, heredity, hierarchy and entitlement trump achievement.'
Makes you wonder why a guy like me, who's from the countryside and could be considered the Dutch equivalent of a hillbilly, is able to get published in several national media. My father is the son of a garage owner, who used to be a blacksmith before that. My mother's father used to be a chauffeur. Obviously, no nobility in my ancestry to help my career.
This difference between the United States and Europe feeds into the perception that immigrant communities have about whether they can ever be good enough for their host societies. That, in turn, can only influence how hard (or not) they try to integrate in each place.
Classic case of seeing the facts, but misinterpreting the causes. Yes, immigrants may feel that they can't be good enough. But that's not because we make them feel bad. On the contrary, it's because we don't allow them to feel bad enough. It's nearly impossible to hit rock bottom in Europe the way you can in America, and thus, it's also nearly impossible to get motivated to succeed. (Note: native Dutch sometimes suffer from similar problems, but that's another story.)
The problem is not that Europe has been too tough on its new citizens. The problem is that Europe should have been tougher. If you fail to get a job here, it hardly makes a difference, for the government will pay your bills. If you don't learn the language, it makes no difference, for the government will provide a translator and start publishing its brochures in seven different languages. If your son commits a crime, it makes no difference, for the government will provide counseling and send him off with a stern warning.
Don't believe me? This is the rap sheet of one of those guys. It should be clear enough even if your grasp of Dutch is limited to 'Heineken'. The brochure thing isn't made up either. If you want to come and live in the Netherlands, here's a brochure telling you how to do it. You should be fine, it's available in English, Arabic, Farsi, French, Servo-Croatian, Somalian, Spanish, Turkish, Papiamento and Dari. Oh, and there's a Dutch version, too. Plus, welfare is so high in the Netherlands that, especially for immigrants who tend to come from impoverished countries, the money is plenty for them. The difference between the minimum wage and welfare is virtually non-existent. Although the actual minimum wage may be higher, someone who's on welfare is eligible for perks such as rent stipends and the remission of council taxes. They may even end up with more money than someone who does want to work for a living. So why bother?
Or why learn the language, for that matter. Try finding a second generation Mexican-American (i.e., born in the USA) who still doesn't speak English properly. There may be a few of them around, but they'll be relatively far and few between. Now try finding a second generation immigrant in the Netherlands who still speaks with a heavy foreign accent. Thanks to government-subsidized 'Education in the Mother Tongue', you'll find plenty of candidates.
So indeed, why would immigrants try as hard as they would in the United States, if there's no demanding society to motivate them?
We brought this upon ourselves, but not in the way Irshad Manji supposes.
(BTW, Irshad Manji apparently published the book 'Big Ideas'. Sounds great. Please get some.)