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    I’m sorry, but I’m just thinking of the right words to say

    Michael J. Totten is having a discussion with various commenters about this post about this story, in which he draws parallels between being a resident foreigner and being an immigrant and then calls on everyone to remember to a good “guest.” I agree that that wasn’t the greatest choice of words–in fact, it gave me a double-take–but I also think his point is obvious enough that it doesn’t warrant going ballistic over.

    I wouldn’t renounce my American citizenship for all the gold in the world, but even if I wanted to, I probably wouldn’t be able to become a Japanese citizen without supernatural help. Very much like many Muslim cultures, I suspect, Japan is the kind of place with very hospitable individuals and a very insular government. And I am, essentially, a guest, so I do most of the adapting.

    What would I do if I did, in fact, immigrate? I would still do most of the adapting, only in that case we would usually call it “assimilating.” Immigrating into a pre-existing country with its own traditions is not like founding a new one where you can stack the deck in favor of your own worldview. When you join a society whose tolerance for different ways of life is one of the very principles that allowed your entrance in the first place, you have to get used to being exposed to points of view that are opposed to your own. That doesn’t mean you have to change your beliefs, necessarily, only that you have to accept that you won’t be insulated from others’. Either that, or stay home where the surrounding culture is the same as your own but you have no job.

    I didn’t see any evidence in the Yahoo! article that the Christmas play, nativity scene contest, or Christmas songs were mandatory. And if they’re not mandatory, well…suck it up. When I was little, I was part of a church that didn’t believe Christmas was a true Christian celebration. When the rest of the class had a Christmas party, I was allowed to eat a treat or two and then went to the library. When we sang Christmas songs in music class, I was unshowily silent. Same at Hallowe’en, Easter, and Valentine’s Day. None of this seduced me into believing in mainstream Christianity, or traumatized me, or what have you. Since Muslims have become such a large minority in Italy, it strikes me as a perfectly reasonable idea to incorporate their celebrations into fun-time activities in public schools where they’d be appreciated, and it’s hard to believe there’s nowhere the children of religious Muslims can go if their parents wish them to absent themselves from the sliver of the day devoted to Catholic activities.

    But that requires appreciating a diversity of viewpoints, without trying to wipe out everyone’s identity the minute it could cause friction. It’s disturbing to see Italy, a country whose contributions to the development of Western civilization are older and vaster than those of almost any other, slowly let itself be cowed into becoming part of the ummah.

    2 Responses to “I’m sorry, but I’m just thinking of the right words to say”

    1. All I’ll say is that I have had it with Political Correctness. It is destroying the West. I don’t profess to be a Christian myself, but I respect the right of Christians to express their faith freely, openly, and proudly. Jews, too. My parents were atheists, but we always had a Christmas tree in our home and played Christmas carols. I hope no Japanese are hiding their religious beliefs and traditions just because Westerners visit their country.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Excessive accommodation of Westerners, if it exists in Japan, is at least not a publicized problem.