Immigrants want to be proud of their new country

America shows multiculturalism works because it treats its immigrants with respect and dignity, writes reader Khalil Dukuly.

I am sick and tired of European politicians whining about the failure of multiculturalism.
I am tired listening to politicians in Europe complaining that multiculturalism has failed in their country. They point to the United States of America as a role model for Europe immigrants to emulate. Let’s put this into perspective:
In the United States of America, immigrants are given the opportunity to unleash their God-given potential. They thrive in America and are treated with respect and dignity. Only in America can you see an immigrant at the top of the corporate world, a head of state, a governor, top of military and police commander.
What do you offer immigrants in Europe?
If you want immigrants in Europe to be proud of their European identity, give them opportunities and stop reminding them that they are different.
In Holland for example, you have a political party in government which is dedicated to deport immigrants because they disagree with their values. One might want to mention that one of the parents of the party leader himself was an immigrant of Indonesian origin. The President of France whose father is of Hungarian origin, once called immigrants “scumbags”.
How do you expect these people to be proud of their European identity? Instead of politicians investing in immigrants, they demonize them to gain votes from right wingers and anti-immigrant constituents.
Let’s get to the root of it: I am neither a historian nor an expert of the Dutch political system. However, I am writing from personal experience and that of other immigrants.
In retrospect, when the Dutch government needed labor from Morocco and Turkey to build this country, they made an uncalculated, even ignorant mistake. The government assumed that the new immigrants from Morocco and Turkey would not stay. It did not invest in these people and their children and very little was done to integrate them into the Dutch way of life. They were settled in separate communities and their children went to black schools.
Forty years later, the Dutch finally see and accept that they made a mistake and try to make it right by enforcing integration courses to a people who have built their own societies within the Netherlands. However what the Dutch expect is not integration but rather adaptation of the Dutch culture and assimilation of the immigrants.
Simply put, immigrants born and raised in different cultures are expected to act Dutch.
The government doesn’t seem to have learnt much of a lesson with time. As a former refugee, I am in a good position to talk about this. When I was in the reception center in 2003, I tried very hard to learn Dutch. My request was rejected simply because I had no resident permit. However, in 2004 I started a HBO education which is even more expensive than learning Dutch. For which I am very grateful even though the logic fails me.
After I got the resident permit in 2007, I tried again to get Dutch lessons to no avail until last month, January 2011. What the Dutch government fails to understand is that, when they make it so hard for immigrants to learn the language, they deny them the chance to develop themselves in the society and the integration that they so much want them to achieve becomes next to impossible.
Integration starts with learning the language. It is only through a common language that communication can take place and ideas exchanged. A common language allows both parties (Dutch and immigrants) to portray themselves as they really are thereby enabling an understanding between themselves.
Without language, ones movement in a foreign society become so limited that the one is forced to depend on the governments “good will” for survival. With thiis I mean welfare. Receiving welfare reduces one to a beggar and strips you of your dignity. As long as the Dutch government is reluctant to invest in the development of immigrants it will always be burdened by those who find it so difficult to find employment that they have to live on welfare.
Before politicians go out there complaining that these people are not proud of being Dutch and are not happy to be here, they should first look at their policies and the discriminatory labour practices. Stop whining and correct the situation. It is not too late. We love this country but you are not offering us much in return.
Khalil Dukuly is a Liberian national who currently lives in The Hague. He has been in the Netherlands since 2002.

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