default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

‘Patriotic assimilation’ a thing of the past

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2002 10:00 pm | Updated: 2:56 pm, Mon Mar 19, 2012.

When I was very young, I overheard my Sicilian grandmother say that the four happiest days of her life were the days her three children were born and the day she became an American citizen.

My grandmother was an American through and through. She loved Teddy Roosevelt, soap operas and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Nona was a perfect example of what is known today as "patriotic assimilation."Joe Guzzardi

Writing in the National Review, John Fonte, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, defined patriotic assimilation as occurring when newcomers leave a previous people, join the American people and "adopt" America's civic heritage.

Fonte used Abraham Lincoln's words to describe what the assimilation process should include. In Lincoln's words, newcomers should be "as though they were the blood of the blood and the flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence."

While Fonte views patriotic assimilation as crucial to the nation's future, not everyone agrees.

According to some political scientists, America needs to forget about traditional assimilation. The 21st century, they argue, has created a "transnational" or "postnational" era wherein migrants move back and forth between nations, retain old loyalties and cultures and vote in the U.S. and their native countries. Modern transportation and communication has made it easier for today's migrants to keep old ties.

Yet a third school of thought insists that immigrants have always blended into American society and will do so again. Michael Barone, columnist for U.S. News, concludes that assimilation is an ongoing process and that only nativists are worried about the fate of today's immigrants.

Who is right and who is wrong in this simmering assimilation is important. Among the things that are clear is that Barone is wrong.

No driving force toward assimilation is occurring among today's immigrants.

If you believe that learning English is the first and most logical step toward assimilation, then ample evidence exists that we're not headed in that direction.

According to statistics from the 2000 U.S. Census, a clear trend toward not learning English has developed over the last decade.

Among the Census findings are:

. Eighteen percent of Americans do not speak English in their own home. In California, 40 percent of households don't speak English.

. 17 million Americans do not speak English very well; 7 million speak little or no English. This represents a 60 percent increase since 1990.

Several states, including Colorado, Nevada and Georgia, saw their English-deficient population triple.

As an English as a second language instructor, I find these results amazing. Taken as a whole, it should mean boom times in the classroom.

Unfortunately that isn't the case. Let's look specifically at the Lodi census figures to analyze what should be (but isn't) happening to ESL enrollments.

In his April 10 column, News-Sentinel publisher Marty Weybret compared the ethnic changes in Lodi's population over the last decade based on Census 2000.

During the last 10 years, Lodi's Hispanic population increased 76 percent; and the Asian/Pacific Islander population increased 38 percent.

If you factor in large increases in the Hispanic and Asian populations in neighboring Galt and Lockeford, it is clear that demand for seats in ESL classes should be up - if people wanted to learn English.

But attendance at Lodi Adult School classes remains, at best, flat. With an increase of nearly 12,000 Hispanic residents in the Lodi/Galt/Lockeford area, one might anticipate a larger turnout for English classes.

Scheduling certainly isn't the problem. Fourteen different sections of ESL classes are offered throughout Lodi and north Stockton during morning, afternoon and evening hours.

English has become so unimportant in some segments that American citizenship is readily attainable to non-English speakers.

As each day passes, incentives to learn English decrease. Federal, state and local governments advertise services in multiple languages. Radio, television and print media reach out to non-English speaking audiences.

As of today, the postnationalists are carrying the day. Patriotic assimilation, to my personal regret, looks like a fading dream.

Joe Guzzardi, an instructor at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly opinion column since 1988. He can be reached via e-mail.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 24 hours ago by roy bitz.

article: Lodi City Council votes to increase ele…

Another three two vote against rate payers. This one is even more upsetting as two of the three voters are lame ducks. Why would they try…


Posted Yesterday by Todd Cronin.

article: Letter: Nurse’s strike is a sham, disgr…

I know EXACTLY who Fielding Mellish is! Love his New Orleans Jazz Band! As for the rest of your post, a thank you to me is in order for us…


Posted Yesterday by Todd Cronin.

article: Letter: Nurse’s strike is a sham, disgr…

WOW eddy Not to hep on the concept of sarcasm and parody are you. And, what is spamful about my post?


Posted Yesterday by Kenneth Huntley.

article: Lodi City Council votes to increase ele…

Isn't it a Conflict of Interest for Larry Hanson as a city council member to vote for anything to do with our city's electricity? I have re…


Posted Yesterday by Jien Kaur.

article: Joe Guzzardi: Is it time for Nancy Pelo…

The downfall of a representative government. Maybe the United States should change to a direct democracy. In the case of San Francisco th…



Popular Stories



Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Featured Events


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists