immigrants are bringing to our exhaustednsociety, many of the pilgrimsnappear to carry on a highly lucrativentraffic in prostitution, narcotics, babyselling,nand other quaint Third Worldncustoms. Today no less than 20 percentnof the population of the federal prisonnsystem consists of aliens, and RepresentativenLamar Smith of Texas, rankingnRepublican on the House JudiciarynSubcommittee on Immigration, Refugees,nand International Law, notes thatn”What’s worse is that seven out ofneight [criminal] aliens are either releasednor given probation and nevernserve time in prison.” He also says thatnpresent deportation procedures take sonmuch time to send alien lawbreakersnback to their fatherlands “that we’rentalking about a massive problem, withnpotentially hundreds of thousands ofnillegal aliens who have committedncrimes.”nObviously, not all, not even most.nThird World immigrants are murderousncultists, drug dealers, or deadbeats,nbut the stereotype of the new Americansnas hardworking mathematicalngeniuses who start computer industriesnand carry the amenities of Seven-nEleven civilization into the inner citiesnis no less exaggerated. If even a smallnpercentage of the several million, illegalnaliens who meander across our bordersnevery year is criminal, that alone isnsufficient reason to stop the influx andnexpedite deportations.nThe larger point is that even immigrantsnwho want to assimilate oftenncan’t, since a culture consists largely ofnunspoken and unconscious beliefs andnbehavior produced by long immersionnin a particular institutional environment.nThe cultural apparatus that immigrantsnbring with them cannot bendiscarded, nor can the apparatus of thenhost country be adopted, as easily asnAmerican tourists exchange sombrerosnand pith helmets for black ties andnevening gowns on their Club Mednsafaris. Learning English, getting a job,nand wearing Western clothes in themselvesnbetoken only minimal assimilation,nand they mean nothing withnrespect to absorption of the underlyingnhabits that define a culture and distinguishnit from others. The names of twonfamous immigrants in American historynillustrate what ought to be obviousnto common sense. Both gentlemennarrived here in their early youth, grewn10/CHRONICLESnup poor, and through hard work becameneminently successful in theirnchosen professions. Both came tonspeak English fluently and dressed impeccably.nBut to their dying days therenremained something about Al Caponenand Lucky Luciano that just wasn’tnAmerican.nOne fundamental part of a nation’snculture that no immigrant can possiblynassimilate is its past. Even today, tonsome descendants of immigrants whoncame here in the late 19th or 20thncenturies, the names of batties likenGettysburg and Lexington are as remotenas the medieval carnage atnTewkesbury and Bosworth Field. It isnone thing to learn the military andnpolitical history of a country fromnschoolbooks, but it’s not the same asnhaving ancestors who fought it andnendured it and whose participation innlong stretches of the national experiencenhas been passed down to theirnposterity by word of mouth and inheritance.nIf Abraham Lincoln were tondeliver his Gettysburg Address today,nhe could not possibly speak of “ournforefathers” without being accused ofninsensitivity by the descendants ofnthose who didn’t arrive until it wasnconsiderably safer to be an American.nNor does the ambition of manynimmigrants to enjoy the civil libertiesnand political freedoms of the UnitednStates necessarily imply any deep loyaltynto or understanding of what allowsnour political culture to flourish. Justnbecause you’re running for your lifenfrom death squads and secret policendoesn’t mean you know much aboutnthe First Amendment or the incorporationndoctrine, the separation of powersnor the rule of law. Even manynBritish immigrants to the United Statesnoften find the concept of federalismnalmost incomprehensible, and they discovernfewer and fewer Americans whoncan explain it accurately. Moreover,nonly a small number of immigrants arenwilling or able to abandon entirely thenprejudices and preconceptions that animatentheir own politics back home,nand they often bring their strangenanimosities and enthusiasms with themnin their baggage. The various ethnicnconstituencies whose never-endingnquarrels and quibbles seem to determinenthe content of American foreignnpolicy suggest that many who think ofnthemselves as Americans are reallynnnlitfle more than transplanted foreigners.nIn the last several years, one of thenmost dangerous sources of terroristnactivity in the United States has consistednof aliens — from Iran, Libya,nCentral America, the Middle East,nArmenia, etc.—who insist on importingntheir own local fixations, ethnic ornideological, to these shores.nThe ethnic, racial, and cultural mosaicninto which the United States, fornthe first time in its history, is metamorphosingnsuggests that eventually it willngo the way of just about every othernmulticultural society in human history.nThe late Roman Empire, the ByzantinenEmpire, the Ottoman Empire,nand the dominions of the Habsburgsnand the Romanovs, among others, allnpresided over a kind of rainbow coalitionnof nations and peoples, who fornthe most part managed to live happilynbecause their secret compulsions tonspill each other’s blood were restrainednby the overwhelming power of thendespots and dynasties who ruled them.nPolitical freedom relies on a sharednpolitical culture as much as on thenoppositions and balances that socialndiff^erentiation creates, and when thencommon culture disintegrates undernthe impact of mass migrations, onlyninstitutionalized force can hold thenregime together. Mr. Gorbachev andnhis satraps are discovering this truthneven now as their bureaucratic empirendecomposes into national and ethnicnfragments that contest for dominance.nIt is ironic that the long-suppressednnations of the Eurasian Heartlandnseem to be on the eve of satisfying theirnaspirations for political identity andncultural renaissance even as the Americannnation faces oblivion.nWhether new Americans like CitizennTunador and the worshipers at thenshrine of Babalu will be happy in thennew Moslemo-Santerio-Buddho-Confucio-Judeo-Christiannsociety they arentrying to create is dubious. Of course,nif their creation is not to their liking,nthey can always pick up and hoof itnsomewhere else, and since they’ve alreadyndone so once, maybe they won’tnmind moving on again. But thosenAmericans who remain loyal to thennational heritage their forefathers creatednor received may find it morendifficult to locate an adequate substitutenfor what massive and uncontrollednimmigration is helping to destroy. n