Wente Watch

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oh say does that star-spangled delusion yet wave

Wente's latest paean to the United States.

If a Somali immigrant wrote a similar piece saying how Somalia is much better than Canada, Wente would be the first grumbing they should have stayed there. But it's okay for American immigrants to moan about home.

Even that might be okay if she recited real facts instead of ideological stereotypes. As usual, she does not.

...anyone can start out in a log cabin, or wheeling a pushcart, or fiddling around with computer code in a garage, and wind up on top. These three ideas — immigrant vitality, entrepreneurship and meritocracy — are the ones that set the United States (and Canada) apart from every other modern state.

Actually, social mobility in the US, once much greater than Europe, is now much less. See this article in the conservative Economist. It is not particularly common for the children of poor migrant Mexican workers to rise to become CEOs. Much less, in fact, than it was for the children of Irish or Italian migrants a century ago.

As Europe struggles with its immigrants, America's immigrants will be charging toward the mainstream. This is rich. The immigrants Europe is struggling with are, of course, largely of North African or Turkish origin. The chief divide between the communities is the belief that the Islamic religion is fundamentally alien and un-assimilable - a belief that Wente herself has done her share to promote.

The problems faced by Europe's Arab communities - weakening family structures, high rates of crime, barriers to the labour market - are also found in large chunks of America's native-born population. Life expectancy for African-Americans in Harlem, for example, is barely ahead of Bangladesh, and well behind Cuba. Has Wente forgotten the horrors of poverty unearthed by Hurricane Katrina? It is hard to imagine something like that happening in Canada or Europe. (Then again, Wente believes that gangsta rap causes black crime.)

And for all [America's] social problems, they're far better ones to have than Europe's. You mean the health care system, most expensive in the world, but barely available to nearly 20 percent of the population? Or the world's most corrupt and lavishly paid CEOs? Or is it most unequal income distribution, highest infant mortality, lowest life expectancy, highest rate of teenage pregnancy, and longest working hours in the developed world?

If you hate this country and love the United States so much, what the hell are you doing here?

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