The United States, this fabled land of immigrants, has fallen dismally far behind countries like Australia and Canada in openness to immigration. The Statue of Liberty may as well be moved to Vancouver's English Bay where the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" are now rather more welcome than in New York Harbor. Many Americans, convinced by arguments like Samuel Huntington's, have come to believe that the institutions we so rightly cherish are too dependent on a feeble, endangered cultural inheritance to survive the bustling presence of strange languages, exotic gods, and pungent foods. That cultural fragility argument is false, and it deserves to die.
Toronto, which has an Anglo-Protestant heritage as strong as any, has proved it dead wrong. In fact, Toronto shows that a community and its core institutions can not only survive a massive and growing immigrant population but thrive with one. Multicultural Toronto and cities like it prove that the institutions of liberal modernity are robust. Life within them is so good that people the world over flock to them. And newcomers do not take these institutions for granted. They have a stake in seeing them last. They can and do make them stronger.