One reason there's not much of a debate about the mass immigration that has swept into the country during the last 30 years is that most of the eggheads who expound on immigration harbor the fond illusion that the immigrants will assimilate - that is, learn the English language, adopt Western and American values and live, work and conduct themselves like everybody else in the country. That, of course, is pretty much what earlier generations of immigrants did, and the result has been satisfactory for everyone.
But that's not what present-day immigrants are doing, which means that they're not behaving the way the eggheads - and the lawmakers who listened to them - anticipated. Not only does the United States now sport such quaint Third World customs as child marriage, female genital mutilation and alien religions that are little more than voodoo and black magic, but also we enjoy the rising babble of more than 300 different languages.
Language is one of the major bonds that holds a nation together and distinguishes it from other nations, and it's also one of the easiest things for immigrants to adopt in the process of assimilation. And if immigrants don't adopt the language of their new country it's very likely they haven't assimilated and don't intend to assimilate. In the case of recent immigrants to this country, it's now pretty clear they're not assimilating and have no plans to get on with it.
This week, the Washington Times published a story about the language enclaves developing in the United States precisely because of unassimilated immigrants. It turns out that there are some 300 different languages now spoken in this country, and as of 1990, some 3l.6 million people who speak them. That's one-seventh of the entire population, and that was 10 years ago. Today, there are a lot more.
'The changes,' the story tells us, 'are reducing the prevalence and primacy of English in American life and culture. More than ever, modern America is multilingual.' You don't really need newspapers to tell you that. Go to the bank in most metropolitan areas, and the teller machine asks you which language you want to do business in. Churches, shopping centers, and many stores and restaurants sport signs and ads in languages other than the mother tongue.
Immigration is the overwhelming reason for the sprouting of the linguistic jungle in America, but there are also other forces at work. For one thing, as the article also notes, 'Immigrant communities in some states have become so large and insular that greater numbers of people find no need to learn