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To assimilate or not to assimilate?

Reader comment on item: Lodi's Pakistani Community

Submitted by Rebecca Moulds (United States), Dec 18, 2007 at 14:06

When my grandfather arrived to the United States from Italy in 1907, he spoke very little English. In fact, he spoke "broken" English most of his long life, although he preferred to speak in his native Italian. He was literate in both Italian and English, and forced himself to read English newspapers. He lived in what was known as "Little Italy" in a Chicago suburb, along with other members of the Italian community. They usually kept to themselves, although most of them did become U.S. citizens. (I have a copy of my grandfather's citizenship certificate).

As "American" as he wished himself to be, and as much as he loved this country, encouraging all his children to learn English, he was still fundamentally Italian at heart, and kept company with his like-minded Italian Jewish friends. When we lived in the Philippines, my husband often wore the traditional Barong Tagalog to evening functions. In Indonesia, I often wore the women's traditional sarong kebaya. We did not assimilate into their society by changing our style of dressing, only when the occasion called for it.

My eldest daughter spoke Indonesian the first four years of her life, but when we moved to the UK she quickly forgot it as she was forced to speak English. A result of displacing Indonesian with English is that she cannot remember much of it now. As for Hamid Hayat's trouble speaking English, I can almost forgive him for that, although a nine-year old shouldn't have forgotten the language he was born into. Admitting to attending a jihadist camp in Pakistan is another matter altogether.

That the Pakistani's enjoy living in this country, but wish to keep to themselves is something I understand from my grandfather's history. I think it's a pity that they are becoming afraid of wearing their traditional clothes. After all, as Westerners in Egypt, we were not required to change our way of dressing to suit the locals, only to dress modestly. We did not feel pressured to wear galabeyas or cover our heads. However, there seems to be an undercurrent of something sinister going on in Lodi, which requires further investigation. What I'd like to know is, in what situation would Mr. Kahn, the retired engineer, need to use the words "terrorist" and "bomb"?

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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