Talking about how we can promote assimilation of immigrants, and I wondered: what could any of the several cultures you’ve been involved with have done differently to make you not interested in getting in touch with your Jewish heritage (jewitage), WITHOUT doing anything that you would consider evil, even knowing that it was done in pursuit of that goal? (Obviously, killing all the Jews before your birth & preventing your existence would work, but would be undesirable for several reasons.)




I mean, this is kind of hard, because I’m sorta omni-nationalistic. Yeah, I love Judaism, but I am also sometimes overcome by Feels about how [Redacted] is THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Sometimes I have Feels that are so blatantly, unironically FUCK YEAH ‘MURICA that they would make rednecks blush redder. When I stood in Trinity College’s chapel I was almost moved to tears by the Glory of Britain.

The only place this doesn’t seem to have worked for is Canada, because Canada is soul-sucking and happiness destroying :^)

But it is pretty easy to make me super into your country and make me care about it more than I care about my ethnic group or religion. You just need to give me friendly, nationalist neighbours who want me to participate in their cultural practices, identify with their history, and support their (non-evil) institutions. I won’t forget about being a Jew, but it’ll be way less relevant to my interests and behaviour than my membership in that national group.

(My glowfic character Carmen is a more extreme version of this. Some readers think she’s a libertarian, but this isn’t strictly true. I made her home country pretty liberal, but her love for it’s institutions and desire to propagate them is largely just because she loves her country to bits.)

Of course, I am something of an outlier and most immigrants would be harder to assimilate than me. I’m assimilation on easymode. But, like, you’d honestly be surprised how far you can get just by giving people a welcoming environment that really really wants them to participate in the local culture, because you’re actually confident in your own awesomeness.

Last sentence basically sounds like what I’ve said about the importance of both the “imperial” and the “cosmopolitan” parts of imperial cosmopolitanism as a force for assimilation.

I have not been an actual immigrant, but I have been in a foreign country long enough that they seemed to be trying to get me to assimilate, maybe, so I can also sort of try to answer the question.

  • Language barriers matter. And no, dumping someone in a classroom with citizens of their own age and throwing a frickin’ novel at them and giving them an hour a week or fewer of Whatever as a Second Language lessons doesn’t really work. I realize that you are supposed to be intrinsically motivated but a government doesn’t really get to say “this would work with more virtuous subjects”.
  • If the goal is not reminding me of religion specifically, spend less time talking about religion and sending me on field trips to visit cathedrals and holding saint-themed events and so on.
  • It is probably good for there to be role models in my region that make me think “wow, look at that person who is a person I want to be more like, that person has a bunch of national pride and so on”. By the way, there is more to this than “not being an asshole”.
  • I realize it’s common for people from Country A to find common habits of people in Country B disgusting, and IDK what to do about that. The situation of an American in Denmark who hates showering in front of her peers and finds the entire culture unpleasantly hypersexual and parses what may well have been light-hearted jokes as harassment and can’t stand the scent of cigarettes is probably comparable to someone from a more-modest-than-the-US culture being in the US? But it’s unreasonable to tell a country “change your own culture such that people who are weirded out by constantly seeing adult female hair don’t feel awkward”, and it’s therefore also unreasonable to tell Denmark to cover themselves and stop singing in English about the precise details of what their genitals do during sex. It might help if you at least acknowledge that your culture is more sexualized than the culture that immigrants are from, and act like they need to become used to it, instead of sort of expecting them to already be used to it.
    • (and I just said all this relativist stuff, but for the record, Denmark should still stop serenading 12-year-olds with the precise details of what pop singers’ genitals do during sex, children and early adolescents really don’t need to hear that, blah blah pedophilia and degeneracy etcetera)
  • Really, I feel like attempting to make people have positive interactions with me and not attempting to make people have negative interactions with me goes a long way. I had dinner with local Danish citizen neighbors probably fewer than 10 times, people were only interested in interacting with me to the extent that I wanted to play four-square, even when I did things like get sewing lessons they were from another expat, etc.

Actually, to be fair, Denmark was where I started becoming antitheistic? Mostly because I discovered atheism books and they seemed about right and nobody really wanted to argue with me very much. That doesn’t really scale well, though.

Denmark is just in general terrible at integrating people. The following observations are partially my own, partially those of several immigrant friends I have from various countries:

  • Language barriers are unbreakable because nobody will teach you Danish and instead speak in English, except not that many people are good at English so they don’t do much small talk, so all conversations are either formal or dead.
  • We do have culture that isn’t religion, but we don’t think of it as Danish culture. “Danish Culture” almost exclusively means “Protestantism.”
  • Display of National Pride is suspekt. If you have any, you’re probably one of those people. (Of course, we are generally immensely proud of our country but you’re not allowed to show it or people might think you’re a racist.)
  • No comment
    • Definitely no comment
  • On the subject of dinner specifically, people here are really weird about dietary restrictions. I have a bag of soy granulate (For the uninitiated: Minced meat replacement) because I occasionally host a vegetarian friend at dinner and people think that’s interesting. Like, they had never considered the possibility of being prepared for that. I was at a dinner party this past Friday and the vegan brought his own food which is just. What. I’d bet at even odds that some people have thought "Let’s invite Ilzo. Wait, isn’t she vegetarian? Eh, too much bother, let’s not invite Ilzo.”

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