There is surely no more ill-conceived program in all of Washington than the visa lottery. The State Department recently announced details for the 2004 drawing, which will welcome 50,000 lucky winners to America. Presumably based on the highly questionable idea that all cultures are equal, the policy opens our national door to "underrepresented" nations to increase America's diversity still more. Not only has the lottery imported criminal behavior considered normal in the home society, but it has also eased the entry of several recent terror suspects.
Politicians and other exponents of politically correct diversity preach an idealized multicultural paradise, but few leaders care to notice the dark side of cultures that are brutally different from our own. The visa lottery welcomes groups for whom the societal norms include slavery, female genital mutilation, forcibly arranged marriage, honor killing and other horrors. In short, the normal behavior of some cultures is criminal or deeply offensive to us. Such unacceptable practices are as much a part of the multicultural package as popular ethnic cuisine.
Of course, if multiculturalism were an easy fit to human nature, the constant media propaganda about its desirability would not be necessary. Our crowded little planet is awash in wars and conflict that are based on just those differences we are urged to celebrate culture, religion and ethnicity.
The dubious message that diversity is altogether positive and part of our national character was highlighted when California Gov. Gray Davis remarked that July 4 is "the day on which we honor what America stands for liberty, security and diversity." The occasion of the rather astonishing quote was the shooting at Los Angeles Airport of several people at the Israeli El Al ticket counter.
Interestingly, the shooter, Hashem Mohamed Hadayet, was an Egyptian immigrant who overstayed his 1992 six-month visitor's visa and became a permanent resident in 1997 when his wife won a diversity visa. Hayadet killed two and wounded several others before he was killed by El Al security personnel. Two recent terrorism-connected beneficiaries of the lottery were reportedly two Detroit men arrested in late August for being part of a terror cell.
Culture matters very much. Would the reader care to live in Pakistan or raise a daughter in Saudi Arabia? Few Americans would, but why then do we invite millions from similarly brutal cultures into our communities? Because of diversity-based immigration, it was necessary in 1996 for Congress to pass a law against female genital mutilation in the United States. Isn't that fact alone a ringing condemnation of multiculturalism?
Furthermore, the social climate is not like a century ago when adapting to American ways was expected: Today's immigrants are told by ethnic organizations and academics that assimilation is racist. Newcomers are encouraged to re-create their home societies in ethnic enclaves without becoming a part of the American mainstream.
For example, the cultural defense has become a predictable strategy in some immigrant criminal cases. In Berkeley, Calif., the sexual enslavement of two teen-age girls purchased in the Indian defendant's hometown was excused by the defense counsel as normal behavior according to the traditional culture of India. One girl's asphyxiation death from a faulty heater exposed numerous crimes.
A closer examination of diversity visas reveals that the lottery brings the shadow side of diversity. The World Health Organization estimates the prevalence of female genital mutilation in Somalia to be 98 percent, yet in 2002 there were 1,328 lottery slots for that nation. Bangladeshi women who displease their husbands increasingly receive disfiguring acid attacks (5,497 diversity visas in 2002). In Nigeria, an Islamic court recently condemned a woman to death for having sex outside of marriage (6,049 diversity visas in 2002). In Sudan, slavery remains a shocking reality, with Muslims capturing Christians and making them submit to both Islam and bondage (1,820 diversity visas in 2002).
The diversity visa program is a wrong-headed idea based on a delusional philosophy and should be ended immediately by Congress. The SAFER Act of 2002 would end this insanity and should be supported by all Americans.
It's time to shake free from diversity's deceptions and renew faith in our own hard-won institutions of individual liberty, gender equality and the rule of law.
Brenda Walker, a freelance writer, is a West Coast representative of Project USA, a non-profit that focuses on immigration policy.