April 22, 2013

Slate: Bomb Brothers show Americans not embracing enough of immigrants

In the comments to my last post about how the Bomb Bros. must have been provoked by all the uneducated right-wing intolerance of their vibrant diversity that they were exposed to daily in Cambridge, MA, reader Kaz challenges:
Steve, is the MSM on any consistent basis, claiming that the bombers perpetrated these attacks because they felt persecuted? 

Slate to the rescue!
The Reluctant American 
What the novel and the new movie The Reluctant Fundamentalist can teach us about the Boston bombers. 
By Katie Roiphe|Posted Monday, April 22, 2013, at 11:41 AM 
Those obsessively poring over emerging news about the Boston bombers should take a break from their iPhones and laptops and newspapers and read Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, (and see Mira Nair’s film version out later this week). The novel will go further in answering the general bewilderment about the Tsarnaev brothers than the little snippets of their lives we have so far, in answering the bigger mystery: “Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?” as Obama put it. 
There was, as always, a scramble of people who knew them who are “shocked.” The slivers of their pasts seem to place them in the position of children of opportunity, the younger one, Dzhokhar, went to Cambridge Ringe and Latin with a scholarship. Photos show Dzhokhar in his prom clothes, in a red satin vest in a tumble of other boys in a goofy ordinary American high school moment. How does he go in a couple of years from this moment to the one in which he puts nails and ball bearings in a pressure cooker to injure and maim innocent strangers, including children? 
The Reluctant Fundamentalist tells the story of a Pakistani kid, Changez, who comes to Princeton University on financial aid and then gets a job at an exclusive McKinsey-like firm where he rises quickly to the very top and then begins to question his new American life. The book points out that the experience of many people who come to America and think of staying is not straightforwardly one of success, or even aspiration or desire. The immigration story, which is in many ways a beautiful one, and is central to America’s idea of itself, is also one of violence. There is a rage involved in assimilation, a radical, dangerous rift in identity that we don’t usually like to think about or reckon with. This is what Hamid writes about, the minor shames, the small denouncements of the past, the sharp conflict between an old identity and a new one, the collision of comfort and discomfort in an adopted country that add up to something troubling and volatile (Though Changez does not turn to violence, he does turn into a vehemently anti-American professor back in Lahore, Pakistan.) ... 
The novel (and the film version perhaps even more directly) challenges American culture to take a careful look at itself. One of the issues raised by the novel is that the acceptance we think we have for people of other cultures, the warm embrace that liberals, at least feel that they are giving, is not as absolute, as untroubled, as blanketly wonderful, as we think. After Changez grows a beard to connect, in some way, to Pakistan and goes back to his office, a black co-worker says to him, “you need to be careful. This whole corporate collegiality veneer only goes so deep. Believe me.” 
The novel is important not for any single message it has to offer, but for a clarity that could be useful in an emotionally fraught conversation, a careful reckoning of the particular variety of welcome we offer to children from abroad. The issue of immigration, or of our relation to foreigners living here, is too subtle, too nuanced, too delicate for newspapers, which is why we need to look to novelists. To understand the Boston bombers, we need also to understand and be honest about ourselves, the ways in which we both take in and don’t take in people from other countries, the trickier side of the American dream.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Memo to New York City police supervisors: 'Don't mock red-haired cops'"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312648/Memo-New-York-City-police-supervisors-Dont-mock-red-haired-cops.html

"A memo went out to Manhattan police sergeants and lieutenants this month informing them that harassment of redheaded officers will not be tolerated by the NYPD, the New York Post reported.

No individual lawsuits from cops with ginger tops have been filed against the city, but federal authorities say a claim alleging unfair treatment of redheaded officers would be supported by federal law banning workplace bias against applicants and employees based on race, nationality, skin color, religion, sex or disability.

Ginger locks qualify under those workplace equality rules because people with red hair are found in higher numbers in Britain and Ireland than other counties, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The novel (and the film version perhaps even more directly) challenges American culture to take a careful look at itself.

Is there any other culture on Earth that is challenged "to take a careful look at itself" at the behest of immigrants?

If I emigrate to Pakistan and decide what that place really needs is some good, smoked pork barbecue, do I get to admonish the resulting Pakistani mob massing at my door to take a careful look at themselves?

Whiskey said...

The Nair film is basically, "White America sucks, as does most of White Western Culture, and you have to bow down to everyone else." That's pretty much the eternal war of Puritans and their descendants with everyone else.

John Kerry just compared the IDF to the the Bombing Borat Brothers. Its the eternal White Civil War, which will only end when the Puritan culture is destroyed. Period.

After all, over and over again, Irish, German, Hungarian, and other immigrants facing large linguistic and cultural discrimination fairly rapidly assimilated and became intrinsic to America.

But the Puritan attitude of "Every other White culture sucks" was limited and bashed in by the power of the Southerners, Mid Atlantic businessmen, and Westerners who were Southern in culture (highly individualistic, liberty oriented, low government/communalism).

And .. they weren't Muslim. America could and did assimilate Irishmen, Italians, Germans, Frenchmen, Hungarians, Jews, Poles, etc. because their basic culture even including Catholicism, hierarchical culture, or raw individualism (the Celts) was not incompatible with America.

Muslims just are. There is simply no way Muslims, with their demand for violent jihad to dominate and control a surrounding culture, can coexist. And hilarity, the hijacked guy in the Mercedes SUV had a coexist bumper sticker, he was spared he says because the Borat Brothers told him he was not American so they would not kill him.

The Irish, German Catholics, Italians, etc. built institutions like Notre Dame; fundamentally a Notre Dame is not incompatible at all with America, see Reagan playing the Gipper in Knute Rockne All-American. Muslims blow up runners in Marathons.

slumber_j said...

The Anti-Gnostic said...
'"The novel (and the film version perhaps even more directly) challenges American culture to take a careful look at itself."

'Is there any other culture on Earth that is challenged "to take a careful look at itself" at the behest of immigrants?

'If I emigrate to Pakistan and decide what that place really needs is some good, smoked pork barbecue, do I get to admonish the resulting Pakistani mob massing at my door to take a careful look at themselves?'

You're not supposed to notice that. Now shut up and eat your Roiphage.

Anonymous said...

American colonies benefited greatly from British military support(esp in the French Indian War) but became the biggest thorn on Britain's side.

Japan was the first Asian nation to Westernize yet the first to clash with the West on a huge scale.

Germans were the fastest to industrialize and modernize in continental Europe yet the biggest problem for highly industrialized Britain.

Jews are the most assimilated group in the West but also the most resentful and committed to undermining the West.

Just because two sides grow similar or because one side did favors for the other doesn't mean it will lead to love and peace.

It can also lead to confusion, resentment, competition, and paranoia.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/oct/14/ecstatic-about-pearl-harbor/?pagination=false

David said...

My prediction: the party line that will catch on is "Xenophobic white students bullied them."

I am too lazy to check whether anyone has issued this party line yet. However, I can safely say that every student who ever had anything to do with the bombing Borat brothers is currently being interviewed more often than Johnny Depp is.

Anonymous said...

Jewish women are so wise and knowing. We goyim should thank god we have so many of them here to wag their fingers at us!

Anonymous said...

The immigration story, which is in many ways a beautiful one, and is central to America’s idea of itself, is also one of violence. There is a rage involved in assimilation, a radical, dangerous rift in identity that we don’t usually like to think about or reckon with.

Isn't this why it made sense to limit immigration to Europeans? I mean Europeans are close enough that most don't experience a rage involved in assimilation. I am the first generation of my family in which English is the mother tongue. Yet I never detected a rage in my parents over assimilation. I don't even think they even thought of what they did as assimilation. They just came here and blended in. I am probably more of a redneck than the majority of people who can trace their ancestry back to the founding.

Let's put a new clause into the immigration debate. If you come from a culture where assimilation might engender rage, you probably shouldn't be allowed to come.

Anonymous said...

Someone will eventually tell us that the "chickens have come home to roost"

eah said...

Just FYI Mr Sailer: Slate is low-hanging fruit. Just plain kooky. So not worth reading/your time. Albeit it is, yes, sadly typical of the way too many people think (just check out the comments).

Evil Sandmich said...

I recall the late Roger Ebert's review of the 2002 release of The Time Machine. In his harsh review one of his big sticking points was the shear unbelievability of the passivity of the Eloi. They do everything but 'butter themselves up' as I recall him saying. Even at the time I had to wonder if he was living in a different country.

Anyway, it seems that liberals want to have their cake (unassimilated immigration) and eat it too (no violence). I don't know how many people still buy into that, but I'm of a mind that it's just liberal editorial boards trying to one-up each other.

Ray Sawhill said...

Wow, she got paid for that?

Anonymous said...

I think we should convert to Chechenism. What a great people. Only 2 million but gave Russia a bloody nose for so long.

Utterly badass.

If we all became Checheniks, no one's gonna mess with us.

If 2 million Chechens can take on 200 million Russians and if 200 chechens in the US can shock 300 million Americans, imagine how powerful we would be as 100 million chechen-american conservatives.

I celebrate with them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFPDbnDjp8w

Chechenicism now.

Rohan Swee said...

The immigration story, which is in many ways a beautiful one, and is central to America’s idea of itself, is also one of violence. There is a rage involved in assimilation, a radical, dangerous rift in identity that we don’t usually like to think about or reckon with.

Who's this "we", Katie? I have a great deal of material from my immigrant ancestors, and none of it betrays this "violence", this "dangerous rift in identity" of which she speaks. On the contrary, it comes through very strongly that, tough as it was, they had sought and found membership and identity, and were part of a people. (And no, they weren't WASPs. Not a one.) Maybe there's a subtext (forgive the po-mo-ism) here about, oh, I dunno, the nation taking absolutely the wrong turn in its immigration policy somewhere along the line?

What is this "America" for whom immigration is central to it's idea of itself? I guess I grew up in a different time, when our self-concept ran broader and deeper than the Emma Lazarus banalities to which it has since been debased.

This is what Hamid writes about, the minor shames, the small denouncements of the past, the sharp conflict between an old identity and a new one,

...which is somehow somebody else's (rectifiable) fault, and not inherent to the man that Changez is?

...the collision of comfort and discomfort in an adopted country that add up to something troubling and volatile (Though Changez does not turn to violence, he does turn into a vehemently anti-American professor back in Lahore, Pakistan.) ...

Ah, so the story has a happy ending? Changez goes back to his own ashes and altars, where he can let his hair down and enjoy Demonizing the Other among his own, as one does. (Seems Roiphe has stumbled upon a solution to all that violence and ragin' and riftin', no?)

rightsaidfred said...

So in summary: Americans were not nice enough to the Borat brothers. We must be nicer. If there is any anger or discomfort among any immigrant, we must be nicer. If we can't be nice enough to make them feel comfortable, then it is us, the natives, who need to leave.

You first, Katie.

Dennis Dale said...

To be fair to Kaz, there still isn't any msm narrative asserting the boys were bullied. It's enough for them that somebody wrote a book about the petty slights that necessitated his conversion to rampaging sociopath. Reason will find no purchase in the mind of delusional zealots.
Every time one of these dicks makes the assertion (and it's always a variation on this one assertion): "America is a racist country", grab him by the collar and demand: "in comparison to what other country?"

Because if you tell me "America is a large country" both you and I know you mean in comparison to all countries. Likewise for any given metric. But when the faithful zealots say "racist America" they mean in comparison to an imagined ideal.
Of course they'll laugh and sputter (it's always one form of sputtering or another) about slavery and Jim Crow. But they're still denying proper context--because the only proper comparison is between America and a similarly diverse country.
In 1991 Francois Mitterand sniffed that France couldn't have its own LA riots because it wasn't a racist country. Anyone with eyes could see the hypocrisy and reality: France couldn't have the LA riots because it didn't have LA, particularly south central LA. Well they have a few of their own now, don't they?

Of course hindsight is just more context, and context is the enemy of illusion.

peterike said...

I couldn't bring myself to read the quoted selection because there's only so much bat-shit Liberal insanity I can handle.

Dave Pinsen said...

This Al Jazeera piece by Sarah Kendzior is getting a lot of attention today from folks on the left: "The wrong kind of Caucasian: Despite the Boston bombers having little to do with Chechnya, the media were quick to demonise an entire ethnicity."

The fellow I follow who tweeted it was venture capitalist Dave McClure. I know that Dave has been to Russia on business and has contacts there, so I asked him if he had shared Sarah's essay with them and, if so what their responses were. He hasn't responded yet.

Jeff W. said...

Liberals like Katie Roiphe are like roadhogs who won't get out of the leftmost lane. It's impossible to get to their left because they are the most caringest people who ever cared about people. There is no one too degraded, perverse, or depraved for them to care deeply about.

They are also the most generous with Other People's Money. No one can outdo the generosity of a Katie Roiphe. But as Margaret Thatcher observed, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

By hogging the left lane as they do, such liberals create a secure position for themselves. They can't be attacked from the left, and they can launch attacks selectively on anyone to their right. The only thing that can rout them out, I believe, will be the impending bankruptcy of the Federal government.

Dan said...

I love how Steve can just dominate a comments section with his remarks.

They don't know if they're coming or going.

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

White progressives:

"America is evil and white privilege is everywhere, and immigrants and minorities should hate the power and privilege of white Americans."

After the bombing.

"Gee, we wonder why such anti-American hatred exists among immigrants and why they bite the hands that feed them?"

'Reluctant American' is natural in a social and political climate that warns newcomers and minorities against assimilating into traditional Americanism. If you tell them that America sucks because it's still too white and Christian, why would they want to embrace Americanism?

White conquis could easily become full-fledged Americans but they 'reluctantly' cling to their 'people of color' Hispanism because the New Americanism isn't assimilationism but oppositionism or proppositionism.

Chechen Guevara.

Anonymous said...

While reluctant to analyze the brothers' motives in the absence of concrete information, I'm leaning towards the "caught between two worlds" hypothesis that's been floating around in a number of threads here.

Completely and thoroughly alien groups rarely square off against the larger society they inhabit. The Amish, for example, are occupants of an uncontested, barely visible niche, if they are even part of our social ecosystem at all.

The brothers were certainly welcomed with as much acceptance as anyone has the right to demand, but were likely incompatible with American society in subtle, invisible ways. The truly marginal live orthogonally to the mainstream, but the Tsarnaevs may have been just compatible enough with our society to function within it, without truly belonging.

The fact that the older brother had an aggressive disposition didn't help, but had he been compatible with American norms, he may have lived out his days as a wife beating also ran given to sentimental reverie about his game winning touch downs for polk high.

-The Judean People's Front

DavidB said...

...and in breaking news, the Canadian police have foiled a plot by Muslims to derail a passenger train in Canada. So I guess those notoriously bigoted right-wing Canadians should also get a dose of 'diversity training'!

Geoff Matthews said...

Why do people persist in thinking that novels (or movies) are more informative than statistics or history?

Mr Lomez said...

The Reluctant Fundamentalist was thrust upon me a few years ago by a colleague who assumed I'd find it enlightening. Absolute tripe. The very worst in didactic sentimentalism.

Of course, it's getting a ton of press at the moment--it's required reading in many a freshman seminar--because it parrots the usual immigrant as victim narrative. Its central message is that terrorism against the US is an endogenous phenomenon created by our (read: white men's) xenophobia, racism, blah, blah, blah. See, we keep looking at Chechnya and Islamic extremists in the middle-east to explain the Tsarnaev brother's, but the real answers are in our own benighted hearts.

As a side note: I've met the author a few times. He's a smug twerp.

Anonymous said...

And yes, it appears Katie Roiphe is Scots-Irish.

Drunk Idiot said...

So Slate gave Katie Roiphe the honor of penning its obligatorily absurd, Bizarro World stab at pinning blame for the Brothers Tsarnaev's actions on the WhiteMaleRapeCulturePatriarchy.

What, was Amanda Marcotte unavailable?

And seriously, is there a feminist writer out there who doesn't cite a character from some work of fiction whenever she needs evidence of a person whose circumstances support whatever inane excuse for an argument she's attempting to make?

Bonus points to baby mama Roiphe for citing a novel, rather than just cribbing a character from some popular movie or HBO series, I guess. But still, it would be better for her case if her example of a NonWhite Victim of Color who snapped because he'd been bullied and oppressed by the WhiteMaleFratBoyRapeCulturePatriarchy were, in fact, a real person, and not just a fictional character (no matter how "important" the novel that he's from may be).

The obligatory citation of fictional characters when attempting to make their lame arguments is as much a staple of 3rd Wave Feminist writing as are obligatory sneering references to the 1950s and evil white picket fences.

Additional bonus points to Cougared up single mom Roiphe for not making the equally obligatory Mad Men or Don Draper* reference and for not singling out som white male villain for being "creepy."

* Representative sample of obligatory Mad Men and Don Draper reference in 3rd Wave Feminist: "Repressive 1950s normative white picket fences, American Dream, white male patriarchy, over-served men behaving badly, women as lowly homemakers and secretaries... just like Mad Men blah blah blah... Repressive, insensitive, offensive white male troglodyte power... represented by Don Draper, blah blah blah.... Oooh, Don Draaper!!! OMG, I"m like supposed to be totally offended by Don Draper, and in theory I am, but thinking about Don Draper is making me get wet, tee he he!!! OMG, I'd totally sleep with Don Draper!!! Why can't men be more like Don Draper today!?! I'm an independent badass feminist goddess, but I'm still single at 43, and it's not fair that I can't find a good man like Don Draper to man up and wife me up!!!

Harry Baldwin said...

Jewish women are so wise and knowing. We goyim should thank god we have so many of them here to wag their fingers at us!

Immortal exchange from "Downton Abbey":

Countess Violet: “You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.”

Mrs. Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”

Countess Violet: “I must’ve said it wrong.”

Anonymous said...

"The immigration story, which is in many ways a beautiful one, and is central to America’s idea of itself, is also one of violence. There is a rage involved in assimilation, a radical, dangerous rift in identity that we don’t usually like to think about or reckon with...."

Ugh. Clearly there is no pretension filter on her word processor.

Anonymous said...

Kaz is muslim. He previously posted on HS about white sluts or whites being sluts or something. Please be gentle to him dear readers. We should not enrage him into extremism.

Auntie Analogue said...


While we have the scribbles of Katie Roiphe to imbibe for free, it is a mystery to me why the emetic industry continues to profit from sales.

Anonymous said...

The immigration story, which is in many ways a beautiful one, and is central to America’s idea of itself, is also one of violence. There is a rage involved in assimilation, a radical, dangerous rift in identity that we don’t usually like to think about or reckon with.

Yeah! Like the rage of the norwegians and danes of Minnesota having to assimilate into anglo culture. Think of all the books and articles detailing such nordic upper midwest rage that have just gone down the memory hole!

Ivan said...

hmmm... the elder was a two-time Golden Gloves champion in boxing, the younger was captain of the wrestling team, and ... Chechens.

Somehow, I doubt anyone was bullying them.

Americhechen. said...

"Yeah! Like the rage of the norwegians and danes of Minnesota having to assimilate into anglo culture. Think of all the books and articles detailing such nordic upper midwest rage that have just gone down the memory hole!"

Ironically, those that assimilated most to anglo-american culture have become the most liberal, suicidal, self-loathing, wussy, and useless bunch of whites. Nord-Americans are Obama-lovers.

There was a time when anglo-americans had been awful tough and proud. but there was always a strain of anglo-americanness that was priggish, prissy, puritanical, moralistic, overly self-critical. And the latter side of anglo-americanism surrendered totally to the Jews. Thus, neo-anglo-americanism means to blandly give into the NWO.

The most waspy parts of America--Mass, Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, etc--are most Democratic. Heck, even Iowa went with Obama twice.
And look at the sicko mainline churches.
Whatever anglo-americanism was, it aint no more.

What we need to do is convert/assimilate to Americhechenism. That will make us tough, rough, feisty, brave, badass, and unstoppable.

Maya said...

I can see how assimilation would have to pave it's way through rage for someone who had to renounce his or her moral values in order to achieve it. For example, if I were kidnapped by some uncivilized tribe with little hope of ever being found, and my only hope of gaining a community and a family would have been to become one of them, there would be a lot of emotional turmoil on my part.

But why would one willingly come to a place where the local customs are so against one's values? I was 10.5 when I came to America, and while it took a couple of years to learn the language and get used to the way Americans go about things, I've never experienced anything close to rage. It really isn't a painful process for someone who doesn't find the culture fundamentally repugnant. Mentally stressful (and stimulating)? Sure. There is a lot of new information blasting at ya every day. Anyone who's ever spent a year abroad will attest to that. Morally stressful? Only if your old cultural values are in contradiction to the ones held by your new neighbors. And, again, why would anyone put themselves in that situation and why would the receiving community want such people as new members?

Svigor said...

The Nair film is basically, "White America sucks, as does most of White Western Culture, and you have to bow down to everyone else." That's pretty much the eternal war of Jews and their descendants with everyone else.

FTFY.

America could and did assimilate Irishmen, Italians, Germans, Frenchmen, Hungarians, Jews, Poles, etc.

Jewish. Like the author, Katie Roiphe.