On Friday's Real Time show on HBO, host Bill Maher; MSNBC contributor and historian Jon Meacham; and CNN host Fareed Zakaria all admitted that it is not necessarily "racist" for one to have concerns about whether immigrants are assimilating properly into American culture after Maher brought up Zakaria's recent article criticizing Democrats on the subject. After Zakaria made an argument similar to his recent commentary, Meacham -- a former Newsweek editor -- noted that assimilation by immigrants has always been a legitimate topic of concern before blaming Republicans for making it look "racist" to have such a debate. Meacham:
But it also plays into a perennial tendency -- you can pick and choose Founders' quotes for these things -- but even Alexander Hamilton ... said that you have to be careful about immigrants who might not adapt to the national spirit. ... We have just been ambivalent about the numbers of folks we've wanted to allow in at different times. And so it's not racist to debate immigration. And, unfortunately, because I think the rhetoric on the Republican side has gone so far, it feels that way.
After Zakaria agreed, "Yeah, I think that's right," Maher went back to the CNN host's article:
And you also quote this guy Samuel Huntington in the article, who says, "Would America be America if it wasn't founded by British Protestants, if it was founded by the French, the Spanish, or the Portuguese?"
After arguing that the U.S. would be similar to Mexico, Brazil, or Quebec if they had not been colonized by Britain, Zakaria added: "There is a kind of culture that binds us together, and it's important to ask: How do we try to make sure that immigrants buy into that culture?"
Maher then agreed that it is not "racist" to simply have concerns about immigration not being managed properly:
<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>
So if we ask questions about Muslim immigration, we would like it -- people like Dr. (Richard) Dawkins and myself -- not to just [be] looked upon as, "Well, it has to be a racist reason for that." It's not -- first of all, it's not a race, it's a religion. But we're talking about those shared values.
Zakaria repeated his recent criticism of liberals on the subject:
And part of what has happened is, on the left, there's been a kind of multiculturalism that says, "Everything is equal -- all these other cultures are equal." And, look, I can say, as an immigrant, if I wanted to maintain Indian culture, I could have stayed in India. The reason I came to America is because I admired American culture.
The normally far-left Maher agreed:
Right. The first things I said on my old show was, "If you're going to come to the Melting Pot, melt a little. You've got a melt a little." You can't take a drivers' license photo in a burka -- we have to see your face.