Needed But Not Wanted

NEW YORK – Baruch Spinoza, the seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher, Benjamin Disraeli, the nineteenth-century British prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the twenty-first century French president, have one thing in common: all were sons of immigrants. People have migrated to other countries for thousands of years – to escape, prosper, be free, or just to start again. Not a few enriched their adopted homelands by achieving great things, or producing children who did.

New waves of immigrants are rarely, if ever, popular. But they are often needed. Many people have migrated to Western European countries from North Africa and Turkey during the last half-century, not because of Western generosity, but because they were required for jobs that natives no longer wanted. They were treated as temporary workers, however, not as immigrants.

Once the job was done, it was assumed that the migrants would go home. When it became clear that most had elected to stay, and were joined by extended families, many were grudgingly allowed to become citizens of European states, without necessarily being treated as such.

Xenophobes, as well as leftist multi-cultural ideologues, regarded these new Europeans as utterly different from the native born, albeit for different reasons. Multi-culturalists saw attempts to integrate non-Westerners into the Western mainstream as a form of neo-colonialist racism, while xenophobes just didn’t like anything that looked, talked, or smelled foreign.