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Mixing Mexicans and Muslims
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July 28, 2006, 05:00 AM
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By the time the spring semester at the Lodi Adult School ended in May, I was down to a handful of pupils—the typical annual pattern of my English as a Second Language class. (Take note John McCain and others pushing amnesty who promise that amnestied aliens will learn English and civics.)

Most of the Mexican students had left to work in the cherry orchards and shacks. The Muslim pupils—almost all Pakistanis, now a larger percentage of the class than Mexicans—stuck it out to the end.

Watching the evolution of my class from predominantly Hispanic to mostly Muslim has given me a unique perspective on how multiculturalism works in the real world.

In three words: not so well.

Multiculturalism is most immediately thought of as Western societies acknowledging other cultures and languages as their equal.

Certainly the multicultural agenda in California K-12 schools always sees to it that the burden of "tolerance" falls on American students and teachers.

But while California prides itself on its "diversity," a truly multicultural society would be one wherein people of all races and religions intermingle effortlessly with each other.

An adult school like the one where I teach in Lodi is the perfect environment for painless interaction among students with diverse backgrounds.

They all have in common their recent arrival into the U.S., their need to learn English, and their status as non-working parents with school age children

And unlike high-school students, adults are not burdened down by teenage angst. So the give and take between my English language learners should be free-flowing.

But it isn`t. The Mexican students form small groups with other Mexicans. The Muslims also sit together.

From time to time, I`ll arrange the room so that an Urdu-speaker sits next to a Spanish-speaker or a Cantonese-speaker next to a Vietnamese.

But, sensing discomfort and persuaded somewhat by the argument that students sharing a common language can more easily help each other, I allow them to drift back to selecting their own seats.

As a practical matter, small student groupings of the same ethnicity work well at the basic ESL level. Invariably, one in the group will have more advanced skills and can convey to his peers the point of grammar or the definition of a particular word.

But it isn`t much of an endorsement for multiculturalism. The simple fact is that the students are more comfortable among each other—whether they are in the classroom or mingling outside during the daily twenty-minute break.

And how else could it be? The Mexicans know nothing about Islam. In Mexico, a country of nearly 100 million people, less than .001 percent is Muslim according to the Islamic Institute for the Study of Islam.

And the percentage of Mexicans living in Islamic countries is certainly smaller than that.

What, except waving a miracle multicultural wand, would bring these two cultures together?

During school`s last weeks, when the class was exclusively Muslim, my students asked me to teach them Spanish as well as English.

Despite how their request may look at first blush, it did not represent a grand multicultural gesture.

As my students explained it, they require English to "get ahead" but they also need Spanish to "get along".

The Mexican and Muslim students live primarily on Lodi`s east side where gang crime is the city`s main concern.

Unable to communicate with their neighbors in English, since the Hispanics don`t speak English, my Muslim students wanted to have Spanish conversational skills so they could be understood when the need arose.

In addition to the practical aspect of teaching Spanish to Muslims, the exercise also was also an effective way to teach English. The students had to repeat in correct English the phrases they wanted me to explain.

For the last month, I spent one hour a day translating from English to Spanish the basic commands the class requested. Here are a few:

  • "Please turn down your radio."

  • "Please move your car."

  • "Please put your trash in the garbage can."

And so it went. As the Spanish lessons continued, my Muslim students—legal U.S. residents, the result of uncontrollable chain migration triggered by our ridiculously liberal " family reunification" laws—admitted that they are often afraid. And they will not, under any circumstances, walk alone in their neighborhood.

In the event of an incident, my students wanted to fall back on Spanish to help get them out of a jam.

And that`s good strategy.

Earlier this week, according to a Lodi News-Sentinel story, a group of Hispanic males shot two Muslim men at a violence-plagued apartment complex near the adult school. (Two Shot At East Locust Apartments, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, July 24, 2006).

Since few in the neighborhood speak English, the police investigation is moving slowly.

While open borders advocates sing multiculturalism`s praise, my slice of real life interface between Lodi`s two largest ethnic blocks reflects what`s happening throughout America.

  • Lodi`s Muslim community needs Spanish more than English.


  • The two cultures are not "embracing" or " celebrating" each other

Only a few Muslim-Hispanic confrontations end in a shoot-out. But the most I can say for the relationship between the two ethnicities is that it is cordial but distant.

Today`s cautionary tale is more proof—not that VDARE.COM readers need it— that multiculturalism is a snare and a delusion.

No matter what platitudes are shoved down our throats to justify it, multiculturalism fails.

The real question is: why are we importing this problem in the first place?

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.