DYCHE | Assimilation, marriage and nukes merit more attention - WDRB 41 Louisville News

DYCHE | Assimilation, marriage and nukes merit more attention

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By John David Dyche
WDRB Contributor

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is not going to be President, but he has had one of the best lines of the campaign.  “Immigration without assimilation is invasion.” 

What is assimilation?  A typical definition is “to bring into conformity with the customs, attitudes, etc. of a group, nation, or the like; adapt or adjust.”

It does not mean making immigrants and refugees forsake their cultures or heritages. It does include helping them fully embrace American culture and heritage.

Welcoming those who come here seeking a better life is a core and historic American principle. Promoting assimilation will help keep it that way.

Yet the issue of how to improve assimilation is rarely touched upon. There has been virtually no discussion of it beyond Governor Jindal’s catchy line and some passing references to what illegal immigrants ought to have to do to get some sort of legal status.

Should America have a Secretary of Assimilation or something similar to facilitate the assimilation of immigrants and refugees?  It is certainly something to consider whether you fall on the “open borders” or “build a wall” end of the immigration spectrum.

Some research suggests assimilation is not a big problem, but the proverbial American “melting pot” may not function automatically or immediately.  We need a serious discussion about how to make sure it works in this new era.

Another overlooked issue is the indisputable connection between poverty and unwed births. Kay S. Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is one of several contemporary scholars who make a convincing case that “the disadvantage that attends growing up with a single mother is no longer controversial or hidden.”

Acknowledging this data is not to pass judgment on single parents, many of whom are extraordinary in working so hard to give love and opportunity to their children. But we cannot be willfully blind to a big picture of “diminished prospects of the children of single parents” and “the relationships among unwed childbearing, poverty, and inequality.”

“In 2014, 40.6 percent of all children in the United States were born to unmarried mothers,” Hymowitz notes. "That includes close to 72 percent of black children, 53 percent of Hispanic children, and 29 percent of white children."

Still, "The conversation about family breakdown remains deeply uncomfortable and even off-limits for many. As unmarried childbearing becomes more common all over the Western world, the younger generation will find it difficult to speak truthfully about its effects.”

While we understandably devote lots of attention to gay marriage and its implications, very little is heard about how children of single mothers are “doing worse than the children of married mothers on just about every measure,” including “school achievement, poverty, emotional well-being, drug use, delinquency, and graduation rates.” 

These social problems are especially severe at the lower parts of the socio-economic scale. We desperately need to make this a subject of serious, non-demagogic debate. Those who challenge the status quo or warn of the ineffectiveness of government bureaucracy and the welfare state should not be branded as heartless or mean-spirited. 

Hymowitz challenges "those committed to the two-parent family as a vital individual and social good" to "come up with alternative approaches for its support." Proposals to end the marriage penalties in means-tested benefit programs are good, but not enough.

Another issue that is not getting anywhere near the attention it deserves is one that used to dominate, or at least loom large over, all our political discussions. It is America’s nuclear policy.

The Obama administration’s unpopular nuclear deal with Iran is getting plenty of well-deserved attention, but there is so much more we should be talking about. For example, Russia’s aggressive and expansionist president, Vladimir Putin, recently announced that his country was increasing its intercontinental ballistic missile force.

RAND Corporation scholar Michael J. Mazarr says, “We are entering a new era of reliance on nuclear threats and coercion, one that carries with it significantly increased risks of nuclear use,” but “there is little apparent sense of urgency” in adapting U.S. policy.

James Cunningham, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, recently posed five provocative questions that every presidential candidate should answer.

How should American nuclear deterrence strategy change in the fact of increasingly complex proliferation challenges, particularly in light of the recent nuclear deal with Iran?

How would you respond to Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty?

How would you respond to Russian nuclear threats to allied states?

How would you respond to the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear program?

How do you plan to modernize the nuclear triad?

This list does not include nuclear issues related to China, which has a large and secure nuclear arsenal and plenty of potential flashpoints with the U.S.  Yet our politics, including especially the presidential campaign, rarely touches on nuclear policy and never for long. 

Assimilation, marriage, and nukes merit more attention. Of course, none of these is nearly as important as Donald Trump’s latest insult or outrageous statement.

(John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is jddyche@yahoo.com.  Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.)

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