Tuesday, February 24, 2004
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The controversial Sam Huntington
I was a post-doctoral fellow at Samuel Huntington's Olin Center for Strategic Studies at Harvard in 1996/97, when The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order first came out. Needless to say, it was a controversial book, and there was a lot of accusations made against Sam that were pretty much unfounded.
At the end of the year, Huntington presented his first draft of a paper arguing that Hispanic immigration into the United States is different from and more troubling than previous waves of immigration (which was an extension of his concluding chapter in Clash). At the end of the talk, all of the fellows looked at each other and agreed that once this was published, the brouhaha over Clash was going to look like a tea party.
Well, it's now published (or rather, part of it is published. All of it will be published in a book due out in May 2004 entitled, Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity). Huntington's article, "The Hispanic Challenge" takes up a large part of the March-April issue of Foreign Policy. I could pick a paragraph at random and it will inflame a lot of people, but I'm betting these two will be quoted ad nauseum within the next month:
I disagreed with Huntington about his Clash thesis, and I think he's wrong now. I'll be posting much more about this later. For now, let's just say that Huntington's thesis has some serious empirical problems and a few theoretical ones left over from the Clash book.
However, I want to close with two final interrelated thoughts. First, it would be dangerous to dismiss Huntington as some paleocon or crank -- he's neither. Read this Robert Kaplan biography of Huntington from the December 2001 Atlantic Monthly (one of the few things Kaplan has ever written that I agree with) to get a sense of Huntington's career.
Second, most of the commentariat want Huntington to be wrong. That doesn't mean that he actually is wrong. Beware those who simply brand the argument as offensive and dismiss it out of hand -- Huntington is way too smart to be rejected without a sober evaluation of his thesis and evidence.
UPDATE: David Glenn has a Chronical of Higher Education story about Huntington's article.posted by Dan on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM
To the extent that there's such a thing as a "famous political scientist," Huntington is it. His career has indeed been simply remarkable. Pretty much one seminal book per decade since 1957. I can't think of anyone who's pulled that off.
I was still assigning the Foreign Affairs article version of "Clash" to students two years ago. The argument certainly continues to have merit, even if I agree that it has some big holes.posted by: James Joyner on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
In a deeper sense, though, Dan, you're quite right. sems we're on the same page, here.
Because someone discusses isssues involving (insert minority here), which at some point during the discussion, places some blame or another on said minority, the label of 'raicst' is sure to follow.
And for all the yelling and screaming from the leftist intelligensia, about open discussion, such charges tend to get used to shut down, or at least maginalize any discussion on such subjects.
Sad, really. It is such as this that gves life to the Al Sharptons of the world, as an example.
And more directly to this point; Are the foundational cultural change that Huntington's on about, here, and their possible effects on our unique American society, not valid subjects for discussion?
I should think anyone interesting in supporting our American culture would consider this a vital topic. On the other hand, I would think anyone interested in our culture's ending as such, would similarly be intersted in such topics NOT being discussed.
Huntington's position may in fact be wrong.... and frankly I've not read enough of it to make a judgement yet.... but would it not be more productive without all the smoke and yelling that will doubtless show up in the time following the release of "The Hispanic Challenge"?posted by: Bithead on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I suppose I ought to read the Huntington piece before commenting on it. So, for the record, this is not a comment on it. If I am asked on the street today what I think of the Huntington piece, I will say "no comment."
I just wanted to make a point about extrapolating from current trends. If you project Latin American immigration for the next 30 years based on data from the last ten, it's possible to entertain some pretty alarming conclusions. But how reliable is such a projection?
I'll let other people take a crack at answering that question, since I'm pressed for time right now and don't want to appear to be commenting on Huntington's article, which I haven't read. I have just time enough to make one other observation, which is that a variable in this equation is what is happening to American culture independent of immigration. A review of commentary from a century or so ago reveals this to be a major concern of American public intellectuals, who in those days were actual participants in public life. They -- many of them at any rate -- did not see the country merely as a passive recipient of immigrants. We shouldn't either. Some of them had doubts about the strength and qualities of an American culture absorbing so many people from overseas. This is a question we should consider outselves, if for no other reason than because our culture has changed a lot in a hundred years, and the experience of our forebears is no certain guide to our own.
That's more an observation than an argument, and in no way a commentary on Samuel Huntington.posted by: Zathras on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
The dirty secret is that a significant part of the commentariat believe that Huntington is RIGHT but are either ambivlanent toward or wishful for the deleterious consequences which Huntington predicts. These people are fundamentally ashamed of America and thus feel no need to defend it. Not too much different from the "we had it coming" responses after 9/11.posted by: Hunter McDaniel on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Huntington is getting near one of the third rails of American political discourse -- any implicit criticism of a minority group equals racism.
"commentariat" - Second time I've noticed that word today. (or did Brooks use it in the referenced piece?) Good neologism.
The thing about Huntington's argument (along with similar arguments, cf the regular argument in NR's Corner) is that it is based on some notions that are glaringly wrong to anyone who actually lives in the Southwest. Nearly every one of the consequences of the second quoted paragraph ignores the fact that there is and has been a concurrent Hispanic culture in the US, primarily -- and not coincidentally -- in the states that were part of "New Spain" rather than part of the Louisiana Purchase. For convenience, think of these as Texas, New Mexico (See that?), Arizona, most of California, and Colorado south of the Arkansas river. (Places like Pueblo, La Junta, La Jara, Alamosa, Antonito, and so on.) Growing up in Alamosa and Pueblo, a substantial minority -- 30 to 40 percent -- of my classes were made up of kids who spoke Spanish at home. Most of them came from families that had been in the US for generations, some with land connections going back to royal land grants from the King of Spain.
When immigrants come here from Mexico, they don't "assimilate" to Anglo culture because there's a happy and vital Hispanic culture to join. It's not the same as Mexican culture -- you can see this in linguistic differences, among other things -- but it's a real and vital culture.
What's more, we Anglos manage to cope just fine. We eat enchiladas and menudo, we learn that "Canon City" is pronounced "Canyon" and "La Junta" is "la hunt-a", and increasingly we intermarry and raise kids who never think there's anything unusual about it until some loon from back East starts expounding on the upcoming Collapse of Anglo Civilization.
Well, get used to it: American Anglo civilization has been collapsing for 250 years, and that's why you can get a great hamburger with green chili right down the street from a good sushi place.posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
You're right that where Huntington is going is a "third rail" of sorts--cultural belonging has become an endlessly controversial and complicated subject. Assimilation, in one sense or another, is a real issue, and a hard one, and easily disregarded (thereby made even more difficult to struggle with) by universalists of one stripe or another on both sides. I'll be interested to read Dan's response; I think Huntington is probably wrong, but I don't like how Brooks dismisses his claims. For example, when folks like Brooks say that being an American just boils down to having "a common conception of the future," he's dealing in platitudes that make it easier for xenophobes to justify themselves. (Though, of course, when folks like Huntington impose rigid civilizational lines on complicated questions like, for example, bilingual education, it makes it easier for liberals to think that "culture" needn't mean anything at all.)posted by: Russell Arben Fox on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Huntington was pretty much spot on in 'Clash'. I am always seeing someone claiming it has holes in it, but then not saying what the holes are. That is because they know their 'holes' have holes also. I also havn't read the latest, but I tend to be sceptical about any claims that American society is NOT changing. The real strength of America is it's dynamic social structure. Will the latest wave of immigrants change America? I should hope so. Will it change society more then the Irish wave, the German wave or the Negro wave? I doubt it. How about the Chinese wave? Or the Vienamese wave? The arguement that mere numbers will make a difference is spurious. I would like to see a breakdown on what percentage of the general polulation a new wave of immigrants made. Was the Irish percentage larger then the Negro? And how does the German wave compare. I was suprised to find that in the 1940 census, 32% of the population identified themselves as having descended from german immigrants. Yet I don't remember the 'master race' Taking over America. Did we all sleep through that? I think that in the long term, the more humans that identify themselves as Americans, the better it is for America. America needs to expand anyway. We kind of sat on our ass throughout the 20th century. Alaska and Hawaii as states, with a few territories as a side dish. Why not make Canada an offer for the Northwest terrorties? They certainly need the money, and the Canadians living there now would mostly be overjoyed. Both of them. Or why not offer Hati the same status that Puerto Rico has? Then in 100 years they can join the Union as one state. Or if the wetbacks pose that much of a problem, we can annex Mexico. Or at least the border states, which might as well be American. Go to El Paso, put on a blindfold and have your driver drive around at random. Take off the blind fold and tell me which side of the border you are on.
I haven't read any of this yet, but it should be fun to read Victor Davis Hanson's comments on Huntington's article. See Hanson's book, _Mexifornia_.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Interesting article by David Goodhart in today's Guardian (http://politics.guardian.co.uk) on the relationship between diversity and (lack of) support for the welfare state. He is chiefly concerned with Britain, but argues that people are more likely to feel empathy for fellow citizens when they think of them as members of their community, rather than merely people who live nearby. He compares homogeneous Sweden to the diverse US, and says this difference in diversity is an important reason why one has a generous welfare state while the other doesn't. A simplification, but perhaps partly true.
"...immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American natives."
Excuse me, but "black and white American natives!!!!??!!!" As most of the immigrating Hispanics are descendants of indians/amirinds, who has the better claim to native status? Moreover, as has been pointed out by Charlie, take a gander at the place names from Texas to California. It might tell you a little something
I'm reminded of Gore Vidal's observation that the Anglos took Texas at the Alamo in 1836 and the Mexicans have decided to take it back.
Furthermore, have any of you visited Houston lately? There are areas of town where the street signs are in Chinese, others where the businesses are all run by Vietnamese, and others where the Salvadorians are getting up each morning to repair the roofs in almost all the houses in southeast Texas. How is this any different from the Five Points of New York as illustrated in Scorsese's Gangs of New York?
Very odd to hear America in 2004 described as "Anglo-Protestant," especially by someone who lives in Cambridge, MA. I don't know how whether any of the Boston Irish would describe themselves as "anglo"; certainly the large number of Harvard faculty who are not only not Protestant but not even Christian would, like the Boston Irish, have a problem with the "protestant" portion of his formulation as well.
In any case, all the trends in American religiosity are toward, not away from, individualistic Protestant-style forms of devotion. For instance, the fastest growing trend among Catholics is Pentecostalism, which is heavily influenced by protestant spirituality. This is also the case across Latin America. In other words, Latinos are becoming more like individualized and "protestant" Americans, not vice-versa.
A little historical perspective would also help. The NY and Boston Irish of the 19c posed a far greater assimilation challenge to that century's dominant American culture than the Latinos do today. The 19c Irish were far more violent, had far higher rates of addiction (to alcohol) and broken families, and were less skilled and educated than today's Latinos, and yet the brawling, filthy Irish in time became one of America's wealthiest ethnic groups (I believe T. Sowell ranked them the wealthiest in his book from ca 1980). In due course, the Latinos will ascend the ladder as well.
Sam should and focus on the real threat, which is of course islamofascism. Especially when courageous young US Latinos are risking and giving their lives for us on the front lines in that war.
Sam's way off the mark.posted by: tombo on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
He raises some good points (I won't concede yet that they are in whole or in part correct) that really should get a good, reasoned debate - to determine what parts are correct and need to be addressed and what parts are not correct and can be ignored. I suspect that he will be drowned in cries of racism and counter-diversitism (the new capital offense heresies) and we will not know if any of his points needed to be addressed unless it turns out that they did (and we didn't).posted by: krm on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
The comparison above between homogeneous and redistributionist Sweden and diverse and individualist America doesn't hold up when applied to different US regions. The most redistributionist US states include both highly diverse (New York, Calif) and highly homogeneous (Minnesota, Oregon) states. Likewise, the list of individualist/capitalist states includes both highly diverse (Texas) and homogeneous (Nevada, Delaware) states.
The author of that article, BTW, infers that Sweden, which has embraced immigration in recent years, should be expected to become more individualist over time than Denmark, which has resisted immigration. This seems very unlikely. If I'm not mistaken, neither country is becoming less redistributionist as a result of their very different approaches to racial and cultural diversity.posted by: tombo on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Describing 2004 America as "Anglo-Protestant" is completely meaningless. We are about as multi-racial as any nation on the planet, and our religion, a blend of self-help therapy and anything-goes ecumenicalism, has about as much in common with the faith of Luther and John Knox as Britney Spears has with Bach.
What on earth is Sam talking about?
We are about as multi-racial as any nation on the planet....
What on earth is Sam talking about?
Clearly, the issue of race is being falsely and and I think, mistakenly injected, where the real issue is one of culture.
They're not wholey seperable, and yet they're not altogether interchangeable, either.
I have not read his argument, but wish to make two points on the general topic:
1. To the extent that there is a need to protect our heritage and culture (I'm not convinced), the best way would be to simply insist on English immersion in the schools. That is, do away with the bilingual horror show. Besides, it is proven to be best for the kids' education.
2. I don't think people on the coasts realize the extent to which communities in flyover land are successfully integrating immigrants without a second thought.posted by: stan on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Does the factor of mobility over space enter into any of his arguments?
It strikes me that immigration can be different today, and have absolutely nothing to do with race, culture, language, numbers, etc. The fact is that in 2004 it is far easier for a Mexican immigrant to maintain contact with Mexico and family in Mexico than it was for an immigrant from Ireland in 1854 or from Eastern Europe in 1904.
This is not a good or bad thing, but you can bet that it means the impact of immigration on Mexico will be as great as the impact on the US.posted by: Rich on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
A small request here: would people mind indicating at the top of their posts whether they have read Huntington's Foreign Policy excerpt?
I mean no disrespect to those who have not (indeed, one of the most penetrating and coruscatingly insightful comments thus far was posted by someone who had not), but have a sense that this small step might better allow us to separate wheat from chaff on this thread.posted by: Zathras on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Samuel Huntington is exaggerating about the threat of Mexican immigration. He is half right---but that also means that the famous scholar is half wrong. Many Mexican immigrants are indifferent toward education. This is especially true for the males. Obtaining an education is perceived as not acting like a man. And yes, the assimilation process is slower than that of some other ethnic groups. But this problem can be resolved very quickly. How do we do that? We simply must take to task the Democrat liberal intelligentsia and its silly “multiculturalist” agenda. These pseudo-intellectuals have discouraged Mexicans from embracing the values of their new homeland.
I do not have the time currently do read the whole Foreign Policy article. Still the first couple of pages were enough to irritate me. Samuel Huntington does not directly blame the Democrat Party for this mess. This is utterly absurd. He hesitates to be this blunt. Needless to add, I don’t have any hesitation whatsoever. The title of the piece “The Hispanic Challenge” should be changed to “How the Democrat Party Screwed Up the Mexican Immigrants.”posted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I've now read Huntington's article and await Victor Davis Hanson's comments with even more expectation. Hanson's _Mexifornia_ covers the same ground as Huntington's _Who Are We_ but, unlike Huntington, Hanson lived it. Hanson isn't in Huntington's league as an academic but is a much better writer and is, on this subject, more knowledgeable.
Hanson grew up in a mostly Hispanic rural California community. He contends, and I agree, that the major part of the problem is the politically motivated (multiculturalism) collapse of the assimilationist mechanisms which California had when we were growing up here. The tidal wave of illegal immigration exacerbates this, but the former would be almost manageable absent the latter, while illegal immigration alone would be manageable if the formal assimilationist mechanisms were working. The two together are almost devastating.
And Hanson notes that cultural assimiliation mechanisms, as opposed to the more effective prior educational & social mechanisms, are having at least some effect.
I live in rural Stanislaus County 150 miles north of where Hanson grew up. I grew up in the ranching areas of western Marin County where there were a lot of Portugese & some Mexican (more of the latter these days) dairymen.
My personal experience is that Hanson is much closer to the truth on this than Huntington.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I was appalled by Huntington’s article. By employing any number of outdated clichés, half-truths and outright slanders it is pretty clear he is simply out –as he is wont—to attract attention to himself by promoting an outrageous thesis. In particular, the evidence he uses to defend his argument is, by any account, mostly preposterous. To cite an example:
“Sosa identifies several Hispanic traits (very different from Anglo-Protestant ones) that “hold us Latinos back”: mistrust of people outside the family; lack of initiative, self-reliance, and ambition; little use for education; and acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entrance into heaven.”
Wasn’t that what nativist bigots were saying about Italian-Americans a few decades ago? In any case, this quote is immediately followed by this priceless below-the-belt piece of ethnic stereotyping:
“Author Robert Kaplan quotes Alex Villa, a third-generation Mexican American in Tucson, Arizona, as saying that he knows almost no one in the Mexican community of South Tucson who believes in “education and hard work” as the way to material prosperity and is thus willing to “buy into America.” Profound cultural differences clearly separate Mexicans and Americans, and the high level of immigration from Mexico sustains and reinforces the prevalence of Mexican values among Mexican Americans.”
So, all those millions of Mexican immigrants crossed the border, at great peril and expense, to become listless slackers and to ensure that their children stay the same way. Sure makes a lot of sense.
Don’t get me wrong. The immigration question is legitimate, complex and important for both the U.S. and Mexico. The current status quo benefits neither country. Furthermore, as a Mexican citizen I can tell you that nothing makes me angrier than my country’s failure to educate and provide a decent living for most of my countrymen, which forces them to seek fortune north of the border.
Believe me, almost all of the Mexican-Americans I know (quite a few) are grateful, loyal and patriotic Americans who want to form part of the mainstream without totally losing their ancestral identity (for all of Mexico’s many faults, it has a vibrant culture with many positive aspects) . This is something Huntington deliberately ignores. He wants you to believe that the Mexigoths is the latest barbarian horde that menaces the great Anglo-Protestant Empire. Foreign Policy should be ashamed of publishing this piece of #$%, which doesn’t contribute to an informed debate on this crucial issue.
I read the FP paper (thanks for the link Dan!).
First, I think Sam is worried about norms - not racism, or economics or anything else.
He notest that "Profound cultural differences clearly separate Mexicans and Americans, and the high level of immigration from Mexico sustains and reinforces the prevalence of Mexican values among Mexican Americans"
I can't argue that, but I can argue about this:
I agree - assimliation at a base level (english speaking/reading, basic education, acceptance of societal norms/and or Consitution of United States) is critical to the success or failure of immigrants to the United States (see my next post for my arguement ad hominen on this).
I disgaree about one critical issue...America was also founded, and profoundly influenced by a massive group of immigrants (millions) early in it's history.
Of course, I'm talking about slaves.
Huntington ignores what African culture has contributed to the American identity and to our insitutions. It's almost as if African-American's don't exist and don't have SIMILAR CULTURAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES as Mexican Americans.
Admittedly, language is an issue. But let's be honest - the average American (regardless of color) knows how to say taco, burrito, enchillada, and cantina in an accent like Gov. Schartzneggers. I'm of mexican descent, and frankly my Spanish is amazingly poor. Do I think Spanish is going to replace English? No. Do I think Spanish will become common in our schools. No...after all ebonics failed, and last time I checked the Americans of African descent in this country outweighed the Americans of mexican descent.
So Sam, I must wonder - "The transformation of the United States into a country like these would not necessarily be the end of the world; it would, however, be the end of the America we have known for more than three centuries." Why do you believe American was one culture, one set of norms for three centuries?
Please...America's been debating our norms since before the Consitution was written. And I think we're rather better for it.
“Hanson isn't in Huntington's league as an academic...”
No, Victor Davis Hanson is not in the same league as Samuel Huntington---he is vastly superior. The latter gentleman receives a lot of glory merely because he is supposedly a member of the intellectual elite. Huntington is actually a second rater establishment huckster who has become an academic untouchable. The man simply must get out of that echo chamber. Hanson has no hesitation whatsoever in blaming the Democrats. I have read Mexifornia and he bluntly criticizes the Democrat Party for its “multicultural” nonsense.
I have just got to the fourth page of twelve in Huntington’s article. My anger is growing towards him is growing. This man, so far, lacks the guts to confront the liberal intelligentsia. There is no such thing as discussing the Mexican assimilation problem without the willingness to blame the Democrat Party. This is their ugly baby who has grown up to be a monster. Huntington writes: “Spanish-language competence, University of New Mexico professor F. Chris Garcia has stated, is ‘the one thing every Hispanic takes pride in, wants to protect and promote.’” What in hell is this? I think I’m going to get sick. Will reading the following pages change my mind? We will see, but I seriously doubt it.posted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Huntington's opinion that there is a unique quality to Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants which inhibits assimilation is contrary to my personal experience, Hanson's personal experience and that of many Californians of our generation.
Here is Amazon's #1 ranked "most helpful" review of Hanson's _Mexifornia_:
"39 of 40 people found the following review helpful:
Well written, well researched, well balanced, August 1, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Sacramento, CA USA
As one who shares the author's ethnic,cultural and geographical heritage, I thought Hanson did a marvelous job of assessing California's major social issue, and one of America's primary problems. Like Hanson, I was born and reared in Fresno County, albeit some 25 miles from his native Selma. I can attest to the accuracy of his description of Selma and the Central Valley in the 1950's.
As a child, my associates included Hispanics; as a teenager working in the fig and peach orchards, my fellow workers were Hispanic. During my professional career, I have hired and promoted many Hispanics.
Hanson's Scandinavian ancestors (from Sweden) and mine (from Denmark) came to America legally and without speaking English, but they succeeded--without bilingual classes, welfare, government subsidies, or that phenomenon known as "affirmative action", which is being rapidly unmasked as nothing, more or less, than "reverse discrimination". Hanson deftly exposes the race industry as an amalgam of organizations and individuals who are quick to attack the Anglo for any slight, either real or imagined, but who, in the long run, seem not to do much for those whom they purport to serve.
As a criminologist, I am well aware of the violence committed by Hispanic Gangs, and the fact that those gangsters who do not wind up in the morgue soon become expensive inmates in our overcrowded prison system, costing taxpayers some $25k per year each. I am equally aware of the many outstanding Hispanic officers, prosecutors, and judges with whom I've worked.
Hanson has eloquently described the failure of our educational programs to work toward an assimilated America, as well as the failure of the "separatists" in the race industry.
The one failure which, to my surprise, he did not identify is that of our elected officials who establish public policy. When Hanson and I were youngsters/young men in the Central Valley, the politicians seemed to act in the best interests of their constituencies. Today, by and large, our politicians have little integrity, but rather pander incessantly to special interests which, in turn, provide them with campaign funds, endorsements,and precinct workers. It is common knowledge that, in Sacramento, legislative votes are "for sale" almost daily. Until we can restore some integrity among our public officials, we will not move toward a better California--better for Hispanics, Anglos, African Americans, Asians, and all others!
Except for his failure to discuss the lack of integrity among many of our elected officials, Hanson has done an admirable job. Mexifornia should be on the "must read" list of all who are concerned about the future of Californians, nothwithstanding the color of their skins!"
California successfully assimilated a staggeringly large number of Mexican and Hispanic immigrants in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's - see _The King of California_ by Arax & Wartzman about that flood of immigrants. Huntington seems to deny that this assimilation happened. The facts conflict with his theory that Mexican/Hispanic immigration is significantly more resistant to assimiliation than that of other ethnic groups.
Which is consistent with the standards of journalism hereabouts, and a sadly growing proportion of academia.
From a San Francisco newspaper editor more than a century ago:
"This is the West, son. When the facts contradict the legend, print the legend!"
A delicious quote from Hanson's _Mexifornia_, found in an Amazon review:
"I have a fantasy that somewhere in some secretive laboratory in Montana a white supremacist and a crackpot racist got together, brewed the germs of our present school curriculum, concocted the virus of La Raza separatist and racist mythology, and then released these pathogens by night in aerosol form to be inhaled by unsuspecting Californians, who then proceeded unknowingly to destroy the aspirations of millions of desperately poor aliens."posted by: Tom Holsinger on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
“Furthermore, have any of you visited Houston lately? There are areas of town where the street signs are in Chinese, others where the businesses are all run by Vietnamese, and others where the Salvadorians are getting up each morning to repair the roofs in almost all the houses in southeast Texas.”
I live in Houston only a short distance from a Vietnamese neighborhood. We are truly a melting pot city. I am literally a minority white person surrounded by people significantly darker than myself---and it doesn’t bother me in the least. The Mexican community must honestly deal with this uncomfortable question: why have the Orientals so quickly surpassed you in education and financial earnings? Why are so many Mexican males indifferent about acquiring an education?posted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
(warning: arguement ad homineum)
I agree in part and disagree in part with Huntington's analysis: "Continuation of this large immigration (without improved assimilation) could divide the United States into a country of two languages and two cultures".
From personal experience, I've seen the divide in my only family between the the assimilated (me) and the unassimiliated (my cousins). The difference...well, let's say that while 7 miles divided our houses, a language, a religion, and a whole series of cultural barriers divided our lives. My father, the immigrant, only partially crosses these divides. My sister and I have tried, but failed.
**** The economic, and social gulf between us was even greater. I graduated from the University of Chicago. I think one of my cousins is in Stateville. I married the latest, make the most money, and still have no children. My female cousins lack higher education and have several children a piece.
**** That branch of the family migrated prior to Huntington's 1965 cutoff. They never left their ghetto.
**** My educated cousins from Mexico, who migrated in the 1990s (legally) are in completely different social and economic classes as well. If I'm upper middle class, then they're middle class, with the cousins (who've been here longest) are lower class/underclass.
On the other hand, my underclass cousins are no more Mexican that I am. They are distinctly different from the cousins who lived in Mexico (some of which still live there). To the Mexicans, we were all norteamericanos.
Please note that the incentives for our parents was universal - they all wanted to have money, healthy families, and good lives. The environments that they raised us in had more, I think, to do with our success. I was raised in a mostly white farm town, my cousins in a dying rust belt city ghetto, and my mexican cousins outisde Mexico city.
My little story may support Huntington's argument about population dispersion and how unfamiliar situations encourage competition and assimliation. However, I feel that this bit of personal history undermines his issue about values. Unless, of course, Huntington is trying to argue that Mexican's don't value family, education, and economic success... or perhaps value it less that those raised with a Protestant work ethic.
I think Huntington's arguement would be more persuasive if he addresed possible solutions to the problem. The "their civilization is evil" argrument that appeared again and again in his FP article "The Clash of Civilizations" is evident here, and it does him a disservice. He's pointing out a clear demographic issue. We are in the midst of a cultural shift (he doesn't say explictly, but Mexicans are more conservative their their European brethern, a lot more conservative, and less worried about stuff like equal rights, and more focused on economic ones). He's proposing that mexican culture is going to usurpt the fundamental ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and replace them with kinder, kitcher, and kurche.
If the problem is failure of a large ethnic group to assimiliate, then what, can we do to encourage assimilation? He seems to suggest that curbing illegal immigration is a solution. Ok, fine, you tell that to the agricultural industry, or to the President who is working on his guest worker bill. What can we do about the people _already_ here?
My husband has an answer, even if Huntington doesn't. He calls it....eduation. It appears to have worked for, oh, 300 years...
Carolinaposted by: Carolina on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
As another commentor who said, that he had no opinion until he had an educated opinion so that he could form an opinion of what sounds like nothing more than opinion in the first place, i reserve the right to come back on what i'm about to say, or not(!)
Empirical studies cant hide that at the root of any argument aiming to associate increasing immigration with loss of the 'american identity' is xenophobe's mind at work. How can something as intangible as national identity be predicated on anything else? If there is one nation more than any other by its changing demographics its the US, the very premise of the man's study seems flawed. I eagerly await the tidal waves of immigrants, or if they arrive that'll mean that true free international trade has finally been achieved.posted by: Nicolas Nickelby on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Huntington .. "lacks the guts to confront the liberal intelligentsia"
I got quite the opposite impression from the Kaplan bio Dan pointed to. His first book, The Soldier and the State got him compared to Mussoline by a writer for The Nation, no less.
He then got denied tenure at Harvard, though taken back later, when his bona fides were undeniable.
"And unlike many professors, he values his undergraduate students more than he does his graduate students. Graduate students, he told me, "are more reluctant to challenge this or that professor" and have often been "captured by the jargon and orthodoxy of the discipline."
One of his former undergraduates observes, "Other academics want to ram down your throat what they know, and then go on to the next victim. Huntington never dominates classroom discussions, and he listens intensely."
And what may be the key to understanding him:
On the one hand, he conceded that "actual personalities, institutions, and beliefs do not fit into neat logical categories." But on the other, he argued passionately that "neat logical categories are necessary if man is to think profitably about the real world in which he lives and to derive from it lessons for broader application and use."
I have read the SPH piece, I does not resonate as well with me as Clash, but SPH has often set the debate, and he has rarely been accepted immediately in any of his major thesis. I strongly recommend the Kaplan piece before you judge SPH. I greatly admire VDH, but I don't think you can compare the two.
I have now been able to read the whole article. There is nothing new in it that hasn’t been said many times before. Truly, Samuel Huntington is nothing more than a Johnny Come Lately. The National Review has published countless pieces on this theme. What should we therefore conclude concerning the attention Huntington is currently receiving? That’s a real easy question to answer: we must stop with the nonsense that an imprimatur must be obtained from Harvard University before an issue is to be addressed. If the Olin Center for Strategic Studies at Harvard is so fantastic, why are its scholars so far behind the curveposted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I am so cynical that I’m starting to wonder, only half facetiously, if Samuel Huntington should be investigated for plagiarism! His article is not even slightly original. One should therefore inevitably wonder if he’s given the proper credit to those who truly were pioneers in addressing the assimilation difficulties of Mexicans immigrating to the United States.posted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Who were these pioneers, any links available?posted by: jdwill on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I found this one accredited by SPH on p 11 - In 1983, the distinguished sociologist Morris Janowitz pointed to the “strong resistance to acculturation among Spanish-speaking residents” in the United States, and argued that “Mexicans are unique as an immigrant group in the persistent strength of their communal bonds.”
Of course I'm from Detroit, and these guys haven't seen some of the clannish ME types we get here. And we haven't had the length of time to track them like the Hispanics.
posted by: jdwill on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
We have Assyrians in my town, Turlock, in Stanislaus County, and they are slowly intermarrying. My favorite combination is Swedish wife & Assyrian husband - Inga Badal-Chamaki.
I am not aware, however, of any Armenian & Assyrian hookups, at least not yet.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
One of our predominant groups are Chaldeans (essentially some type of Orthodox Christian Iraqi's). I guess that if you kept your Christian identity throughout the Islamic conquests and over the centuries in the ME, you are not going to trade it in immediately for Bart Simpson.posted by: jdwill on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Who were these pioneers, any links available?”
This only took me a half minute to find on google.com:
I particularly liked this one:
There are plenty of articles published by conservative journals over the last ten to twenty years. Where does one even start? Samuel Huntington lives in his own little elitist dream world. This is the only rational reason which can explain his late arrival to this debate. Hey Sam, where have you been hiding?
"In 1983, the distinguished sociologist Morris Janowitz pointed to the “strong resistance to acculturation among Spanish-speaking residents” in the United States, and argued that “Mexicans are unique as an immigrant group in the persistent strength of their communal bonds.” "
Baloney. This unwilliness to assimilate is entirely due to the silliness of the Democrat Party and its liberal intellectual partners in crime. The same also hold true for the reluctance of some American blacks to get an education because they might appear to be "acting white."
Are you a big NR reader? I like to stay in the center more. There's good stuff on NR, but they are pretty predictable.
As to your antipathy to SPH, I don't understand it. Did you read the kaplan piece?
My take is that SPH paints in broad strokes, and he has a very good track record in provoking liberal democrats to reevaluate their positions. Its not when he comes to the debate, but that he clarifies it by positing a new framework. I think he is a very original thinker and that he may miss the 'mark' - whatever one may think that is - but he adds something new to the dialogue.
posted by: jdwill on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
PS I was more interested in who you thought the pioneers were than looking up articles.posted by: jdwill on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
“Baloney. This unwillingness to assimilate is entirely due to the silliness of the Democrat Party and its liberal intellectual partners in crime.”
The democratic party is to blame for (select all that apply)
( ) Haitian Unrest
posted by: TexasToast on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Are you a big NR reader? I like to stay in the center more. There's good stuff on NR, but they are pretty predictable.”
I could care less about wishing to appear more moderate or sophisticated. Are you implying that the National Review should not be taken seriously because it is conservative? If so, that is an illogical position. One should either accept or reject arguments entirely on their merits. My guess is that you might be someone who is indifferent if somebody calls you a scum bag &^%$#@. However, if they accuse of holding a conservative position---you will immediately sue them for slander!
“As to your antipathy to SPH, I don't understand it.”
I’m just fed with the situation where we are suppose to wait until someone associated with Harvard University says its OK to begin discussing an issue. My so-called antipathy towards SPH is due to the fact that his article his way behind the times. He is not saying anything particularly original. Where in hell has he been while others were getting their butts kicked?posted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
“The democratic party is to blame for (select all that apply)
( ) All wars in United States History (“Democrat Wars”)”
The isolationist Republican Party disgraced itself during the era leading to World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt deserves much credit for saving civilization. However, the current politically correct Democrat Party can justifiably be blamed for “The failure of Mexicans/Hispanics to assimilate into the dominant Anglo-Protestant culture.”posted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
According to 1970 Census data, 17.7% of immigrants who arrived in California in the 1960s were living in poverty. Ten years later their poverty rate had dropped to 12.2%. By 1990 it had fallen to 9% and in 2000 it was 8.7%. This trend held true for immigrants who arrived in the 1970s, '80s and '90s...
In 1980, one out of five of the Asians who had arrived the previous decade were living in poverty (20.3%). But this group, a sizable number of whom were Vietnamese fleeing communist oppression after Saigon fell, raced up the capitalist ladder. By 1990, more than 90% had reached the ranks of the middle class,...
Among Latinos who arrived in the 1960s, he found that 68.1% of those age 60 or older owned their own home by 2000. Younger Latinos own homes at a slightly lower rate -- 67.2% for those in their 50s and 61% for those in their 40s. California's overall homeownership rate is 56.9% and nationally it's 66.2%.
The longer an immigrant is here the more he contributes. "Earnings, homeownership and voting participation all rise markedly with growing length of settlement," the study concludes.
Restrictionists on the political right argue that immigrants are a net drain on government. But the implication of the Myers study is that this changes over time... Far from being a burden, they are a revitalizing force.posted by: george gilooly on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
“Restrictionists on the political right argue that immigrants are a net drain on government. But the implication of the Myers study is that this changes over time... Far from being a burden, they are a revitalizing force.”
Some on the hard Right are racists. They simply don’t like Mexicans. Still, there are legitimate points to be made regarding the economic problems caused by poorly educated Mexican immigration. Many border cities are suffering serious financial grief because of these immigrants. This is especially true for the hospitals and the criminal justice system. The Myers study is probably right on target. My point, however, is that these Mexican immigrants would have assimilated much faster had it not been for the destructive politically correct policies of the Democrat Party.posted by: David Thomson on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
No one here have a heart attack okay? I agree with David Thomson. There are two salient points. The first is that the key is cultural integration. Note that I did not say cultural assimilation. Every culture has diverse values and practices. In order to succeed, every immigrant ethnic group that has come to this country including my own has to select from the practices within their own culture that will allow them to integrate best and emphasize those.
Someone here once mentioned that the prosperous middle class or business owners of many countries resemble Americans more than often their own countrymen. This is true. You don't have to give up your culture, but you do have to be willing to shift the weight in emphasis.
The second relevant point is that those who pretend that Mexican immigration isn't a "problem" or exceptional situation are kidding themselves. Mexico is a unique situation. It's not all good or all bad, but right now it is dysfunctional and suboptimal.
For instance, I was originally for NAFTA. Now I've changed my mind, not because I'm against trade but I think that Mexico has failed to reform its political, economic, and social culture in order to be a compatible trade partner at that level. Mexican immigration I think has contributed to this, by providing an easy escape valve. Do things stink in Mexico? Go north. And whoever stays behind has it better because there is less competition.
Besides national security issues, I don't think an open border is going to be sustainable for multiple reasons. Part of the difficulty is that many Mexicans have seemed to taken up what is in my view an entitlement perspective. This goes back to what Dave was saying about the Democratic party, and now the Republicans, giving Mexicans unrealistic expectations and coddling.
This is not a nicer richer northern Mexico. This is the United States of America. My family originally came here as immigrants, and they all had to learn the language and shift their practice of cultural customs to not fit in but at least be able to get involved. Now with the passage of years we've all become quite comfortable and have been not just accepted but embraced by people in both midwestern Anglo-Protestant culture and Southern Carolinian culture with various marriages, partnerships, etc.
Right now Mexicans if not getting a sweet deal are certainly getting a different deal. That's not healthy. If the nation wants allot of low wage Mexican workers, then we should bring it out in the open by creating processing centers that hand out paperwork and then forcing employeers to actually hire only Mexican immigrants with paperwork. I'm not for blanket retroactive amnesty, but I think we should begin by taking this situation seriously and stating that the present system encourages two different classes of citizens. As an American, and a first generation immigrant who later became a citizen of this great land like Arnie I would argue that if you come here you should be willing to adapt a bit and that you shouldn't expect people to tolerate you if you won't make an effort to integrate.
If you do try and there's bigotry or barriers, that's different. But you got to try. You can't say I'm Mexican first and then American. You gotta be American first and then something else. And you can't expect to get a different deal than Haitians, Chinese, Canadians, or whoever else wants to come on over. That's just the way it is.posted by: Oldman on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I'm totally, completely shocked. It is so unexpected, young Dr. Drezner who is as unpredictable as NYT and WSJ editorials, disagrees with non-PC piece. Who woulda thought?
Young Dr. Drezner is .posted by: Mik on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
In the post Drezner refers to James Joyner blog entry. Joyner puts up big chunks from the first and last pages of the article.
But pages in between made no impression on James Joyner as he proceed with a vapid thought:
Read the pages between the first and the last, dear. Huntington explains why it is different.
If still not clear after that, try a thought experiment. Imagine 100 million Mexicans moved to California and Texas in 1 year. Forget about logistic problems for a second. Still don't see just a bit of a difference numbers alone make?
Large scale immigration without assimilation is colonization.posted by: infamouse on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
In the post Drezner refers to David Adesnik blog entry. A very deep thinker Mr. Adesnik is.
Apparently Mr. Adesnik works in a department headed by Huntington. So he likes to beat up on him, but is scared:
"As a peon at the Weatherhead Center, I know that if I don't have anything nice to say about Sam Huntington then I shouldn't say anything at all."
But there is always some PC-hack available to publish a pathetic critique of Huntington:
"Which is exactly why it is so delightful to see David Brooks rip into Huntington's latest book on all of our behalves."
So Mr. Adesnik is a coward who doesn't like Huntington paper. And he does not like the paper because of his disagreement based on deep or at least some knowledge of the subject?
"I admit that I don't know the first thing about demographics or immigration. If Huntington has the evidence, he may be right. But it just sounds so cliche."
See, Mr. Adesnik doesn't know the first thing about it but he is a fair man and admits that Prof. H. may be right.
One thing I have noticed in the UK is that there is far less cultural integration from recent immigrants than those who came in the '60's & '70's. This , at least in my opinion, is driven by easier communication.
This means that the immigrants are far less likely to watch the TV, movies etc of the host country & thus integrate.posted by: Raj on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
"Are you implying that the National Review should not be taken seriously because it is conservative?"
Reasonable point - though the @#$%^& stuff is silly.
What I meant is that just going to NR for your backup is suspect. With the partisan stuff flying, I like to get viewpoints from various political stripes.
Which is why I think you should welcome SPH, not curse him. He is an old fashioned liberal democrat (small d). Not exactly a prodigal son, but the parable fits - kill the fatted calf and rejoice.
I agree with you and Oldman and I think SPH is close also. What is wrong with the Hispanic immigration is the extreme rate and the current political climate that caters to group identity over a national melting pot.
My only hedge on your comments is regards amnisty, which in reality had nothing to do with the "Mexifornia" issues, but rather with terrorism, and the attempt being made to document the aleiens living among us. Certainly there are cultural and legal impacts, and they're worth discussion... but those were not the primary consideration in that situation.
An immigration pause to facilitate assimilation might be appropriate given the volume of total immigrants here, illegal as well as legal.
Huntington's opinion that Hispanic immigration has unique qualities inhibiting assimilation is suspect.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
A very interesting thread. It seems we have a continuum regarding group dynamics
It would be interesting to place them in some sort of context.
1. BORG assimilation (a la Star Trek) – A complete loss of self and tribe/group in pursuit of the greater group's good.
2. Jewish Cultural identity – A group with a strong sense of self and the tribal/group good that survived two millennia without a place – and the pursuit of a homeland creates one of the larger cultural conflicts of our era.
3. Irish/Celtic Cultural Identity - a group that is American First – but still is a primary source of IRA funding.
4. French Canadians – a group with a place – that loses its identity away from that place.
5. Basques – a group with a place – that survives fro millennia tied to a place.
6. Scandinavians – a group that creates subgroups (Swedes, Danes, Norwegians) but is homogeneous enough to share most values.
7. African Americans. – a group with no ties to its historical place – but has created a group culture in a new place.
8. Afrikaaners – a group similar to the founders of the US that was not large enough to displace the native population – it shares a place with a larger group.
9. AmerInds/American Indians – a native population with its place systematically and intentionally stripped from it – see the Trail of Tears.
Where do the Hispanic/Mexican Americans (or Americans of Hispanic descent) fit?
Where should the Hispanic/Mexican Americans (or Americans of Hispanic descent) fit?
Per the above comment, the fellow I would like to hear from on this is Thomas Sowell, who has written extensively on the characteristics retained or lost by other groups of people in the course of their movement from one place to another, by means of immigration or conquest.posted by: Zathras on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
According to Sowell's "Ethnic America", the immigrant groups that had the most difficult time moving up the economic ladder in the U.S. were those from Catholic countries. Of the earlier groups, the Irish and the Italians stand out for their suspicion of education, and their lack of skills upon arrival. They also tended, according to Sowell, to remain more clannish, and to cling to neoptism to move ahead for longer periods than other groups. (I'm 1/2 Irish, not trying to offend anyone). The Jews and the northern East Asians took the most advantage of educational opportunities and thus aquired more wealth and assets the quickest. The earlier, large German immigration contained a great many skilled craftsman whose skills were generally highly valued in the fledgling republic. So, while they may not have spoken English, they could repair your watch, build you a fine barrel, carriage, water wheel, etc.
I believe the data he used was from the late 70s or so. There were small blurbs regarding the Vietnamese boat people, and other small groups like Puerto Ricans, but not enough data to extrapolate much. I think at that time he seemed to focus more on the large waves of people from overseas. He noted that the Mexican experience, except for the Catholic element, is different ballgame.posted by: Cali on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
In the late 90s, I worked in Tucson, Arizona with a woman, Espie, whose grandparents emigrated to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution. The moved into the Mexican area of town, which was segregrated from the Anglo areas, but had a vibrant economy and families of varying income levels. Espie's parents attended school in the 40s and 50s during a time when the speaking of Spanish was treated very harshly. By the 60s and 70s, when Espie was in school, there was more mixing of the ethnic groups in school. But, the center of the Mexican community faced a huge physical assault in the form of urban renewel. Old neighborhoods were torn down to build the huge Community Center and a freeway.
Those with money moved to the east or north of downtown, and the rest moved south, which never replicated the old vibrant downtown economy. Espie still lives in south Tucson. I met her daughter, who was 12 at the time, and the odd thing was, she spoke English with a heavy Spanish accent, and watched more Telemundo (Spanish tv) than MTV. I'm not sure what this means,if anything. But, there is a constant influx of new immigrants, mostly illegal initially, through south Tucson.
Does this mean something to the Mexican assimilation experience? Is this Mexican immigration "wave" larger and longer than other groups? It was fairly strong and steady throughout the 20s through the early 80s. But after that, especially from the late 90s, there has been a torrent of illegal crossings. Some have to do with the tightening of security around San Diego and El Paso. The Douglas (alittle south east of Tucson) Border Patrol sector has listed over 1/2 million illegal immigrant arrests per year for the last few years so we know that millions are getting through. I don't know what it means. I do know that it was the blending of cultures that made Tucson a neat place to live. But the volume of people now is staggering.posted by: ventana on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Huntington was essentially correct in Clash, and he has highlighted a significant developing problem here. There is plenty of time to confront this problem and deal with it.
To some extent, significant parts of the US will be latinized, like Miami. But even illegal Mexican immigrants can look at a map of the western hemisphere, and separate the haves and the have nots by the primary language spoken in the country in question. In terms of countries, spanish speaking does not go with affluence. But look at all the English speaking countries, and you see a trend toward affluence.posted by: crane on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Dear Prof. Drezner:
I'm curious about your statement:
"...(one of the few things Kaplan has ever written that I agree with)..."
As an great admirer of Robert D. Kaplan's prose (if not all of his conclusions), I'm curious if you would be willing to post your critique of his writings.
(Aw heck, since this is a comments thread, I'd be curious to hear whatever the rest of y'all think of Kaplan beyond his article in The Atlantic on Huntington.)
The little guy sitting on my lap in the picture on my website is my great-nephew. His mother is anglo-protestant and his father is Mexican. His dad was one of a small group of soldiers who liberated Um Qsr and the other oil facilities in the Shat al Arab. He told me that his intention with his son is to immerse him in both languages without giving him any clue about which is which, or when one is appropriate and the other isn't. This will lead to a certain language confusion that the kid will simply have to work out on his own. Ultimately he'll be extremely fluent in both languages, without one single "native" language. However, he's not doing the same thing with culture. He will have a native culture, and it's American. My great-nephew could end up being a kind of allegory. His take on Santa Claus is entirely unique.
The thing about Sam is that he's often wrong in some major sense, consequent to the fact that he usually overstates the case, but his books still illuminate the debate by raising awareness and observing details that had gone unnoticed. Think about it. Even The Promise of Disharmony was way too pessimistic. He's a little like fucussing a microscope on some area of your body so that the pores and blemishes you'd never noticed before suddenly start to look really disgusting and worrisome. It's just what he does. It isn't really "wrong" though, is it? It's just that it lends itself to a certain preoccupation that ultimately proves to be a little hyperchondriatic. (And no, I'm not sure that's actually a word.) He is the second most widely cited political scientist, after Lipset.posted by: Scott on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Contrary to what Carolina says, neither in "Clash" nor in "Hispanic Challenge" does SPH ever say or imply "their civilization is evil". He is a scholar, not a moralist.
"Hispanic Challenge" is a scholarly assessment of the course and likely future of mass legal and illegal immigration from Mexico. It is absolutely no argument against him to say "but the trend lines may change" or "but one or two or three generations down the road, the Mexican immigrants may assimilate." Those who make those points offer at best anecdotal evidence for them, and at worst are simply implying that SPH does not have the right to make his case, because, well, he's breaking taboos, saying the impermissible, being politically incorrect.
But these are emotional reactions, not arguments.
In "Clash" SPH warned that clashes of civilization might happen if we (the public, government, voters) did not recognize the power of civilizational identity. He was NOT, repeat NOT, either calling for or predicting clashes. Very few reviewers got this point, even though SPH makes it several times in his book.
Likewise, in "Hispanic Challenge," SPH is NOT advocating any policy. He is saying that mass immigration from Mexico is not like other waves of immigration in the past (his evidence appears incontrovertible; you want to deny it, argue, don't misread). He then says that Mexicans, once here, in the mass (and again, anecdotal family stories to the contrary are not evidence, they are merely anecdotal family stories), do not assimilate as other immigrants have done. He then warns against some illusions of the American political and media class, which on this issue are truly astonishing, comparable to the illusions of the Roman imperial elite in the third century that Christianity was a no-account Eastern sect with no future. He finally says, perfectly calmly and with the authority of a great scholar, that this country may divide in two, either officially, with borders, or by demographic fiat.
posted by: David on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
Well that was certainly a spirited defense.
None of this seems to me in the least controversial. Objections to SPH's facts and analysis grounded in what one personally would like to think or what one thinks one can deduce from observing one's family, city, or region are utterly irrelevant and beside the point. The only question is: what do those who believe that America is worth something intend to do about it? And that is not a scholarly, but a political question, which SPH wisely does not address.
So issues of model specification, including validity and completeness, are just irrelevant? The value in so-called "anecdotal" evidence is that it posits theories that the data, or even more importantly the limitations of model specification, simply can't or don't address. I'm not quite prepared to cede that issue to him, because I know that model specification is "a bear" especially model specification that deals with the vagaries of human behavior.
So no, there are questions beyond "what we're going to do about it." Because there are still significant questions about what "it" is, and there are really significant questions about what actions we may be ideologically limited to.
I have this to offer, gleaned from another "great scholar," with at least as much to offer as Sam. The US is the "First New Nation" in the sense that unlike all other nations that preceded it, and most that followed it, it's based on an ideological consensus rather than an ethnic identity. Joining this 'nation' is therefore not a matter of learning a language, or of subcription to a pantry of ethnic foods. It's a matter of subscribing to a set of beliefs in three primary areas: anti-statism, equality of opportunity, and religious sectarianism. The Hispanic diaspora may challenge us on the first, but I suspect our ideals are strong enough to convince or prevail. It may well have something to contribute on the second (and here, my anecdotal experience may have something to offer). On the third, I don't think it's a contest. Sectarianism may look weak, because it's always retreating... but that's something of an illusion. The overwhelming advantage it enjoys is that there are always at least as many people leaving a religion or sect by the back door as are coming in through the front. Wait and see.
Thanks Scott for YOUR spirited defense of the position that SPH is both wrong and unfair. And for your civil tone.
America, you say, is "based on an ideological consensus rather than an ethnic identity."
This is indeed where the tire hits the road. Your statement is a perfect summary of the elite official wisdom of both Republicans and Democrats. It is even partly true, though not perhaps as true as that elite, for widely disparate reasons, wishes it was.
For one reason, the "proposition nation" was a lot more assertive in demanding assent both of mind and behavior in the "proposition" in the past. For example, if earlier immigrants didn't learn English fast, they did not survive. If they did not act in their personal and business dealings according to the principles of English common law and equity, and of Judeo-Christian morality, they didn't survive, or not very well. Since the 1960s, these demands have faded.
Interesting questions in history, anthropology, and political science are often ones where common wisdom is not entirely adequate. The question of American national identity is one of those.
Your comment made me realize that one of the reasons so many people are offended by SPH's latest is that if he is right about the nature, behavior, and prospects of Mexican immigration, then the common wisdom may turn out to be not so wise after all.
The thing about America as best I can phrase it (and I was raised in Europe, have Danish and American ancestry, and have worked much of my adult life in the U.S., though not at present), is that it (dare I say she? not quite, I, too, am a coward), is BOTH multicultural AND founded on a particular ethnic identity. The political philosophy of American government is recognizably the political philosophy of British liberalism and empiricism. This is a matter of historical fact, not ideology. One of the virtues of this political philosophy is that it recognizes no national or ethnic distinctions in those who subscribe to it ... but they must subscribe to it if they want to be full members of the society.
Underlying SPH's latest concern, or so I read him, is that if majorities in certain states do not buy into the political philosophy of American democracy (inherited from Britain), then American democracy and the experiment known as the U.S.A. may either come to an end (as all things in history do), or may change dramatically.
I suspect SPH would also say that either eventuality would make the world a poorer, more bitter, and less hopeful place. But of course he may be wrong. A new Southwest Republic of Mexifornia and a rump U.S. may turn out to be a wonderful combination. We may find out.
Interesting times, indeed.
I have a somewhat detailed response to Samuel Huntington here:
However, his overall thesis is oversimplified and sometimes deeply flawed. He pays little attention to the demand for such immigrants, which is a big reason for their increased flow into the U.S.
Is the demand specificly for these people, or is it anyone with lower wage and benefit demands?
Huntington's article focuses on the Mexican immigration using the same old optic of seeing the US separate from the rest of the world. Social evolution happens and it has happened in the US from its conception by the founding fathers and before. A quick look at the newspapers of the late 1800's shows arguments similar to those used against Mexicans (uneducated, poor linguistic skills, etc.) applied to the Germans, Italians and Irish. On this article, I think that Dr. Huntington continued with his tradition of esoteric claims based more on personal opinions than on historic and economic facts. Immigration is omnipresent both in time and in all geographical regions, it was like that in the past, and will continue in the future.
Let us look at some facts not considered by the author.
Points 1 and 2 suffice to illustrate the fact that the US is not alone in this discussion about immigration. Of course this phenomenon, by bringing fresh blood also brings fresh ideas that impact our status quo. Rather than getting into a long discussion of whether this is good or bad, let me focus on the main point proposed by the article: containment of immigration and propose a tested solution.
Anybody that had the opportunity of visiting Germany in the 1980’s or early 1990’s must have seen the growth of the Spanish and Turkish immigration into that country. Visiting back again now after the formation of the European Community one can see a totally different picture: Spain is now selling Seat cars to the rest of Europe and to all of Latin America, but Turkey isn’t . . . yet. The difference is due to planned investment. By joining countries under a common economic scheme, it was obvious that the reduction in border controls was going to devastate poor countries whose people would follow the smell of better labor conditions. How was this attenuated? By having the rest of the European countries invest in the poorer countries.
The US promoting job production in Mexico? Of course a radical idea, but already in operation with excellent results in Spain and more moderate in Portugal. And there is more to come in Greece, Turkey and other new members of the European Community.
In modern times, when industry has now become a fluid commodity, countries have to rely on their own strengths to survive in economic terms. Just like the US cannot compete with Nicaragua in the production of jeans, no country can compete against the US in the fabrication of microchips, or planes, or movies! A planned migration of industries into Mexico, along with a program of temporary migrant workers would not only slow down the flow from the south, but would help to develop the weak but potentially strong internal market of Mexico for US goods. The United States, more than anybody else –perhaps even more than Mexico itself, would benefit from this trade investment.
We can see the benefits of such migration of factories along the US-Mexico border. For instance, El Paso, Texas, a city with little industry of his own, derives huge economic benefit from the Mexican based US plants. 300 corporations in telecommunications, electronics, clean room manufacturing for medical supplies, appliances, and automotive industries pay a payroll of about $250 million for over 2400 managers, engineers and scientists who live on the U.S. side of the border, and purchases of over $9 billion worth of services in El Paso. Likewise, the Mexican-based industry has generated jobs in El Paso in indirect support industries including retail sales, manufacturing and professional support services, transportation, banking and home building.
One can only dream about the impact that the scaling of this effect would have on a national level. Just like Mexico would benefit from having all of its population in productive employments, the US would rip enormous benefits from expanding operations into a new market of over 100 million people. A secondary payback, of course, would be the slowing down of the illegal immigration of Mexicans into the US territory.
A final word: the flow of industry out of the US is already taking place at a massive scale, a government plan (with small incentives) to re-direct this flow from India to Mexico, for instance, can bring huge economic benefits to the US and be the solution of the Huntington problem, if it ever existed.
Response to Bithead:
I am referring obviously to demand for workers who can be paid low wages and given poor/no benefits.
(Of course, this is not to be confused with the demand for high wages for American CEOs and massive tax cuts for them - since 'supply-side' "theory" states that these rich folks can only be motivated to "work hard" with massive incomes/perks and tax breaks.)posted by: TR on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I am referring obviously to demand for workers who can be paid low wages and given poor/no benefits.
Ah. So then, in reality the issue is one of artificially high labor costs, vs the company and it's investors being able to make a dollar for their investment.
And clearly the issue is not as dire as your statement seems to be trying to paint it; The workers breaking all the rules and putting their very lives in jeapordy to get here to take those jobs, are seeing some kind of benefit out of it to make them willing to do all of that for the supposedly low wages. Apparently they see the choice to take such jobs as preferable to staying home and not taking them.
And as for CEO's why does this concern you? Class warfare?
Let's do some rather grahpic math together, shall we? Let's imagine that by some socialist miricle, we were able to take *all* of the wages and benefits paid to the CEO's from all the S&P 100 firms. All of it. Every last dime. Now take and hire workers at current union wages, using that money. Explain to me how many jobs that would create.
Also,let's not forget the jobs lost that the CEO created using his personal money in whatever form HE chose... ventures, investments, housing, and whatnot. After all, he wasn't simply burying the money he was making in mason jars in the back yard under the rosebush.
Thanks for the loan of the shovel, by the way...I'll drop it off next Tuesday.
posted by: Bithead on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I never read "blogs". (How do people have the time, with so much else being published that is so much more considered, researched, and interesting?). I got here via your short, TNR-online rebuttal of Samuel Huntington's just published essay on the threat of Hispanic immigration (which I read last weekend at Border's - I'll spend my money on the book itself).
Before commenting on the essay and rebuttal, I want to say I'm impressed with this blog, especially its layout. I am curious, however, as to when and why you became a "libertarian Republican". When I was at Williams, I distinctly remember you as a professed liberal Democrat. (I work in film, and so cannot identify myself without incurring possible career repercussions - the political situation for genuine rightists or even mere Republicans in Hollywood today being far more egregious than it ever was for the (thoroughly guilty) "Hollywood Ten".) But I am glad you have made a more intelligent ideological transition (or have you, writing for a liberal magazine like TNR ...?). Keep it up!
SH's FP essay was needed for the public debate, especially given the President's insanely counter-productive, politically idiotic, and eventually, for the GOP, suicidal, illegal immigration amnesty-in-all-but-name proposal from January. But the essay is weaker than it should have been, and your rebuttal is weaker still.
As with nearly everything of value that neocons say, the matter was already dealt with long ago, and in a superior fashion, by the paleoconservatives, especially Peter Brimelow, then at NATIONAL REVIEW (check out his anti-immigration site vdare.com), whose book ALIEN NATION is the best thing to read on the problem of contemporary mass immigration to the US, as well as those grouped around the traditionalist conservative magazine CHRONICLES. Huntington may be an important, even occasionally brilliant, political scientist, but there was no argument presented in the FP article which I had not encountered elsewhere (particularly in Brent Nelson, AMERICA BALKANISED: Immigration's Challenge to Government). SH ought to have the good grace to acknowledge those from whom he probably appropriated many of his current ideas - even if those sources are "politically incorrect".
While I believe that your criticisms of SH on the questions of Spanish unilingualism and linguistic nationalism, and Hispanic regional over-concentration, are incorrect, those are empirical questions to which I will have to defer to whomever has the better statistics. I would tend to trust SH's over yours (using David Brooks from the NYT is totally dubious).
Your claims with respect to Mexicans keeping ties with their homeland is almost wilfully incorrect. Very few Mexicans, at least the ones with whom I have interacted here in CA, regard themselves as "Americans". This is pure liberal/neocon sentimental trash. Occasionally, I like to practice my very limited Spanish with Hispanics I encounter in commercial situations. I positively could not count the number of times I have subsequently heard them comment or joke about "an American" or even "Anglo" speaking "their" language (it is a fast way to establish a healthy rapport). My point is that they know and I know that I am an American (I look like one, talk like one, act like one ...) - and that they are not. Why can't liberals, libertarians, neocons, etc, understand this?
Moreover, SH is absolutely correct to argue that the Mexican immigrant experience is unique from the perspective of American immigration history, and that this uniqueness stems from geographic proximity (though I will argue that there are other, equally worrisome problems with specifically Mexican immigration). Referencing 18th century Ben Franklin's unfavorable comments about the Pennsylvania "Dutch" is ludicrous. We have today a heavily overpopulated (in the quantitative carrying capacity sense), violent, corrupt, impoverished, wildly inegalitarian, unpleasant, Third World dump of a country contiguous to a wealthy, still fairly successful and somewhat pleasant (though growing worse all the time, in no small part due to immigration, especially its racial aspects) First World country with a largely undefended, thousand mile land border between them. This is NOTHING like the situations earlier generations of Americans faced with European immigration streams, when travel was hazardous, arduous, expensive and, by virtue of the oceans alone, represented a huge psychic break with the "Old Country". It was not at all easy for newly arrived European immigrants to maintain their ethnic ties (and given racial, cultural, and civilizational similarity and often sameness between them and the existent Americans, there was limited reason for them to).
You aver that many Hispanics are now moving to non-traditional locations within the US, and indeed they are. But that hardly negates SH's concern about over-concentration. Areas of large Hispanic concentration, such as those here in LA, are not growing any smaller just because more migrants are moving further inland. What kind of an argument is that, 'Professor'? That just shows that new immigrant colonies are being established elswhere, which buttresses SH's overall argument (ie, by establishing a greater Hispanic presence throughout the US, it becomes more difficult politically to enforce assimilation back in the original 'colonies', or to garner the support to halt immigration entirely for a couple of generations - the ultimate assimilationist mechanism).
The "cross-cutting cleavages" you espy between Hispanics are not likely to stifle the growth of domestic Hispanic nationalism - even if they are significant at all (and I think the trend is the other way, from a salad bowl of Spanish speaking Latin American nationalities - though with Mexicans being by far the largest contingent - to a large, self-identified Hispanic-American minority group, demanding its 'rights' and share of political spoils). Thanks to liberal-inspired, and state-propagated and even enforced, multiculturalism, as well as the tax-loot (you are a libertarian, no?) available to the best politically organized groups, Hispanics have every incentive, and no disincentives, to play the 'ethnic card'; that is, to develop their Hispanic minority consciouness to the full as a lever to pry perks for their 'community' from the purses of the dwindling 'Anglo' majority. There were no such redistributionist, welfare-state incentives to impede the assimilation of earlier, pre-1965 immigrants.
As libertarian Milton Friedman himself has stated, "It's just crazy to think you can have a welfare-state and open borders." Of course, in all but name, that is exactly the situation today.
This brings me to a brief mention of the real problems with immigration generally, and with the Mexican variety particularly. Does a country, Dan, have the moral right to determine the conditions of its own sovereignty? Do the people of the US have the right to determine who shall be admitted to our national home, and who should be kept out?
Call me a nationalist (please do: I don't regard it as an insult), but the perspective from which one should judge the merits of any given immigration policy is whether that policy serves the national interests of the American people. I don't think one can make permanent generalizations about immigration applicable for all times and places, other than to say, banally, that immigrants bring change. One has to judge any particular policy within its contemporary context. We can learn from the past, but we can be only loosely guided by it.
The real, and therefore studiously avoided, question is this: is allowing millions of (non-white) immigrants, the bulk of whom are Mexicans, to settle in the US every year good for the American people (especially the American people as constituted in 1965, when the traditional criteria regarding demographics were changed)? And, will our present (non-)policy be good for America and traditional national values and concerns in the future?
These are very large questions, and I'm tiring of this "short" blog comment. But I suggest that, by every social science measure (eg, crime, public health, welfare, education, taxes, budgets, economic efficiency), as well as by more subjective, but ultimately more important, concerns (eg, national unity in the face of war or calamity), present immigration policy is doing a grave disservice to Americans, especially future ones, and even more especially white ones (remember that recent immigrants of 'color' are entitled to affirmative action and 'diversity' preferences, and all the other political and economic benefits reserved for non-whites in America today). The real issue should always be whether prospective immigrants will improve the quality of life, however domestically subjectively defined, of existent citizens without jeopardizing the nation's existence and quality of life in the future.
I suggest that flooding our country with racially alien, culturally, cognitively and morally backward peoples, at the massive and accelerating rate at which our government (yes, Dan, mass immigration is a government policy; the American people certainly haven't democratically demanded it; see the work of Brimelow and especially Hans-Hermann Hoppe for the correct libertarian position on immigration) is doing so is so feckless and reckless as to constitute criminal treason. Immigration is the one policy from which there is no return. Maybe the prestige of Samuel Huntington will finally start a real national debate on this most vital and neglected of political issues.posted by: Dave on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
I find it hard to understand why immigration's relationship to the exploding US population is often ignored or even avoided. Consider the following:
US population has grown by about 40% since the 1960's. In the 1990's alone we added a record 30 million more Americans, the equivalent of a new state of California every 10 years. The US Census Bureau now projects a US population of about ½ a billion by sometime in the middle of this century.
Almost all of the last 30 years of population growth has been due to immigrants and their children. Immigration averaged 178,000 per year from 1925 through 1964. At these levels the U.S. was projected to achieve population stability by sometime in the 1970’s. Unfortunately Congress increased immigration levels approximately 6-fold beginning in 1965. Then, in 1999, Bill Clinton, oblivious to the crisis, revised immigration standards to allow those just above poverty level to sponsor new immigrants. Now President Bush and the Democratic Party are both proposing their own legal status plans for millions of illegal immigrants. We are in the midst of a huge, continuous immigration with no end in sight. In 2001, the Mexican Ministry of the Interior reported that even with falling birthrates and increased economic development, mass immigration from Mexico to the United States will continue for at least 30 years. The ministry's estimate, nearly 400,000 immigrants per year, is likely much too low, takes no account of a guest-worker program and obviously does not address immigration numbers from countries other than Mexico.
See: www.sprawlcity.org , http://www.house.gov/tancredo/Immigration/,
As just a normal American trying to make a living under yet another "piece of shit" Bush, I read the comments about Latins and again am saddened by the fact that nobody has the balls to point out the real problem that has brought the world to it's knees. Overpopulation. And what is the cause of overpopulation, especially among Latinos? Religon!!! I understand that it would be political suicide to stand up and tell the truth about the fact that religon is the cause of all evil on the planet. Please, we know how the Earth was created and it wasn't by some big guy in the sky. But to get back to my point, it seems funny to me that the people who complain about Mexicans the most are the people hiring them. If the greedy right wingers of this country would offer a fair wage and insurance to people born in this country there wouldn't be jobs for others. I could go on and on about breeding a tax base and all the other obvious things that conservative religious people do in this country but I won't. Let me end by saying this, I know what you bastards are up to and I hope that before I die I can figure a way to expose you all to the world!posted by: tim christopher on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
It is important to remember that it is said that the United States is the "Melting Pot".
As immigrants from countries such as England, Ireland, France and Germany, the Hispanic immigrants (more specific the Mexicans) at the end of the day will be part of the "Melting Pot", contributing to define the American Culture.posted by: Ricardo on 02.24.04 at 11:11 AM [permalink]
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