Friday, August 8, 2008

America the Different

I am going to start this off with a 5-year-old link to the always-excellent Michael Totten, because it has bearing on what I want to talk about. I'll wait, no worries.

As you just read, the United States treats immigrants differently than the rest of the world does, and that's part of its special magic. I've often thought that the best way of summing it up is this way: immigrants come here and change America, and in turn are changed by America.

Some anecdotal evidence of how this works out over generations, from my own experience and that of my friends, follows.

My parents are both German in ethnicity, my father having been born here and my mother immigrating here on a 1-year work visa for her West German company, eloping with my Dad, and never looking back, despite having parents, five sisters, and two brothers back in Deutschland.

I look around at a lot of my childhood friends and I see similar patterns of their parents being a case of like marrying like:

1. My friend Michael's parents were both of Italian immigrant families, both sets of grandparents having immigrated from Italy.

2. My friend Chris' parents, both Italian in heritage, marry and have Chris and his younger sister.

3. My brother-in-law's parents, both from Irish immigrant families, married and had an even bigger family of six kids.

I have many more such examples, but you get the idea. Fast-forward to my generation, which is tail-end boomer and beginning of Generation X, and the marrying patterns are far different than what I observed in our parents generation:

1. Michael marries a woman who is of mixed Chinese and Korean heritage, who grew up in Texas and has a charming Houston accent, no less!

2. Chris marries Christine, who is Irish-American through and through.

3. My Irish-American brother-in-law ends up happily married to my German-American sister, and have made me the proud Uncle to one niece (my god-daughter) and two nephews.

And me? No marriage yet, alas, but I've seriously dated someone of Italian heritage, another who immigrated from the Philippines in 1973 at age 13, and would have happily dated a good Ethiopian immigrant friend of mine if only she'd ever said yes!

Yes, I know these are anecdotes and therefore statistically value-free, but I'd be willing to bet they are more indicative of the ways things are in these United States than not. Meanwhile, over in Europe to name but one example, are we seeing many Irish marrying Germans, Italians marrying Korean/Chinese, or Italians marrying Irish? Again, I don't have evidence one way or the other, but my sense from hearing about my many German cousins' lives is: not so much.

I really think this is one of the many, many strengths of my country, that we really don't care as much as the rest of the world about matters of ethnicity and religion. And with each generation, we inter-marry more across religious or ethnic lines.

If you're to view it from an evolutionary standpoint, marrying across bloodlines like we're doing here can only strengthen this human race that we are ALL members of.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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