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"Absimilation": The Second-Generation Problem
Greenfield’s piece gives me another opportunity to promote a neologism I coined in Chapter 10 of We Are Doomed.
Talk to anyone who employs illegal aliens and that discrepancy between foreign-born minorities and native-born minorities stops being a mystery. They prefer first generation minority immigrants to second generation immigrants because they consider them more obedient, docile and responsible.
Like a man who keeps divorcing and remarrying every few years, they constantly want fresh immigrants, but they don’t want to hire their American-born children…
That’s right, but it’s not just a case of the second generation having assimilated to less-obedient, less-docile, etc. American norms. Some subset of the second generation will move away from our norms.
That’s the excuse for my neologism:
The English word “assimilation” derives from the Latin prefix ad-, which indicates a moving towards something, and the same language’s verb simulare, “to cause a person or thing to resemble another.” You can make a precisely opposite word using the prefix ab-, which marks a moving away from something. Many immigrants of course assimilate to American society. I think I have. I hope I have; I've tried to. Many others, however, especially in the second and following generations, absimilate.
One sad story of absimilation is told in the 2008 book Generations of Exclusion: Mexican Americans, Assimilation, and Race—remarkably, as the authors, Vilma Ortiz and Edward E. Telles, are left-wing Hispanic sociologists (at UCLA). Sample quote: “Despite sixty years of political and legal battles to improve the education of Mexican Americans, they continue to have the lowest average education levels and the highest high school dropout rates among major ethnic and racial groups in the United States.” Ortiz and Telles blame the schools. Gosh, when are we ever going to get those schools right? More money! More money!
I give other examples of absimilation among the second and subsequent generations of immigrants.
For any given immigrant population, some of the following, born-in-America generations will assimilate; others will absimilate. The relative ad/ab proportions are determined by (a) characteristics of the population, (b) the cultural milieu of the host society, and (c) sheer numbers.
Absimilation is, for example, commoner among Pakistanis than among Irishmen; commoner in a guilt-addled xenophilic host society than in one that has confidence in itself and pride in its ancestors; commoner among Mexicans than among Montenegrans.
“Absimilation”—not in your dictionary, but should be.