In the WSJ, Joel Kotkin ask why immigrants riot in France but not in America. [via Instapundit] He concludes, rightly, that better economic opportunities and more generalized social and cultural acceptance make the immigrant experience much better in America than in Europe. However, the conditions for immigrants in America have been better than Kotkin portrays.
America has had it share of immigration related rioting, but almost without exception the rioters were native-born and were attacking communities of recent immigrants because they feared or resented the economic competition that the immigrants posed. Irish-Americans used to routinely riot against African-Americans who migrated to the North. In the 1992 L.A. riots, African-Americans kept to the tradition by attacking Asian immigrants.
In American, immigrants routinely economically outperform the native born. Immigrants often represent the best of their source populations. Once they arrive they are more determined to succeed and feel more positive for receiving opportunities that the native-born take for granted. Without the active intervention of the State against them, most immigrant populations rapidly shoot up the economic ladder, bypassing many native-born people in the process. It is this very high level of success that has long generated resentment in native-born populations and led to successive waves of anti-immigration politics.
I don’t think we will ever see immigrant communities rioting like we have seen in France because most immigrants are too busy working hard so their kids can be the indolent rioters who attack the next wave of immigrants.