What Are Others Saying

December 24, 2007

The president says: "The homeowners deserve our help." But why "deserve"? The principles of "compassionate conservatism" are opaque, but they might involve liberalism's premise that Americans are so easily victimized they must be regarded as wards of government.

Perhaps Washington's intervention in the subprime problem reveals the tiny tip of an enormous new entitlement: People who voluntarily run a risk, betting that they will escape unscathed, are entitled to government-organized amelioration when they lose their bets. The costs of this entitlement will include new ambiguities in the concepts of contracts and private property.

- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Smerakowitz, Vaccaro and Grujichich families arrived prepared to do whatever it took to be "American," even if that meant updating the spelling of their names every 10 years. While they did not forget where they came from, they were anxious to follow immigration laws, to learn the English language and to become a legitimate, moving part of the economy.

The result was the oft-cited image of the United States as a melting pot.

But today, we've stopped melting. Or as former presidential adviser and candidate Patrick J. Buchanan recently told me: "The melting pot is cracked and broken."

What has changed? The issue is not that too many Hispanic names are finding their way over the border. It's what happens - or doesn't happen - once they arrive.

I know I'm not alone in my belief that today's immigrants - those here both legally and illegally - are not assimilating the way my forefathers did when they arrived.

And before I'm shouted down as a xenophobe, hear me out. My intent isn't to amplify the shrill debate surrounding illegal immigration. What I'm interested in is defending the tradition to which my grandparents adhered: the one that led them to a new name and a better life in this country.

I fear we are leaving it behind.

- Michael Smerconish, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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