Statue of Liberty signpost in New York CityAssimilation has become a dirty word. From their mansions in gated communities, the denizens of Hollywood and high-tech billionaires preach diversity, cultural relativism, and inclusion. But those of us who live on the ground just scratch our heads and wonder what nation on Earth is more inclusive than the United States?  Our message to immigrants isn’t “Stay home, we don’t want you.” Rather, it is “Come here with something to contribute, and a desire to adopt American values, and we’ll give you a chance at the life you’ve only dreamed of.”

One of the major problems the American public has with immigration has nothing to do with the immigrants themselves. Rather it is directed at the societal elites who have declared all cultures equal and decided that it is racist to expect immigrants to adapt to the culture of the United States. Somehow, it has become almost criminal for Americans to express pride in their exceptionalism.

This is ironic because American exceptionalism is what pulls most legal immigrants toward the United States. The majority of people who lawfully make their way here, and aren’t re-settled under a government program, are intentionally looking for what the U.S. offers – which, by definition means that they were dissatisfied with things in their native country. America’s economic opportunity, peaceful elections and a fair justice system all play a part.

A desire to benefit from all that is unique about the United States drove generations of immigrants to assimilate, transcend their roots and become something new – Americans.  It’s why, during World War II, many Americans born abroad fought on behalf of the United States, not for their countries of birth. No other country on the face of this planet has been so effective at incorporating newcomers into its communities and polity.

American voters sent Washington’s business-as-usual politicians a very clear message at the polls this past November. But we won’t succeed at making America great again until we become great at making Americans again. No matter what the media, Hollywood, or academia say, assimilation should not be a dirty word.