March 10, 2004

The myth of the Melting Pot chalks up another victim

A fisking, for those who need to know, is a detailed rebuttal, usually on a line-by-line basis or at least with heavy quoting from the original text. It is named in honour of Robert Fisk, who was for a number of years the Middle East correspondent for London's The Independent newspaper and has frequently been subjected to exactly such treatment. Huntington's article is too long to actually dismantle on a clause-by-clause basis, so this will be a brief but vigorous fisking instead of the far more satisfying slow, tortuous, painful fisking which I believe a man of Samuel Huntington's stature deserves. This is, in large part, because I have work to do and other topics to get to.

For that reason, this will be a two-part post. I have Chinese class tonight, which means I can't start on the next part until tomorrow, where I will attempt to undermine Huntington's actual claims about Mexican immigration. Tomorrow, I'm going to primarily consider just two issues: Is Mexican immigration really different from past immigration? Does it pose a unique and novel threat to American national identity? That will take some writing that I haven't got time for today, so first, I intend to fisk Huntington's more basic ideas.

Also, it turns out that I did bring my copy of Language in the USA to Belgium. It is an invaluable resource for someone interested in language policy and ethno-linguistic identity issues in the US, in large part because it was first published in 1981 and has been out for print for some 15 years. Thus, it was written in a context where the civil rights movement was still within the adult memory of nearly all of its contributors and contains a language of empowerment and liberation almost completely absent from more recent language policy debates in the US. Also, it makes quite a bit more reference to the pre-1964 dark ages in American identity politics, and the bibliography is invaluable for the student of poorly conceived linguistic policies. Furthermore, I acquired my edition used, where it is full of very insightful hi-liter marks and notes in the margins.

I had mistakenly thought that Huntington was a historian rather than a political scientist, as Conrad Barwa notes. This may relieve Huntington of one dram of culpability, but that is hardly significant in comparison to the mass of material on the sociolinguistics and anthropology of America that he hasn't bothered to check.

Also, go take a look at Russell Arben Fox's review. If that's a defence, I'd hate to see how Russell responds to folks he doesn't like. I can be induced to agree that there is a real relationship between language and identity. Actually, it doesn't take much inducing, although I don't find it to be as essential as many people make it out to be. My only real difference on that count - isolated from everything else - is that I don't think identity should be essential to citizenship or the physical location of your residence. But, I'm going to talk about language tomorrow.

But, as an opener, let me direct you to something completely different:

Sex abstinence U.S. teens often fail

U.S. adolescents who pledge not to have sex until they are married have about the same rate of sexually transmitted diseases as other teenagers and they often fail to keep their pledge, according to a study.

The study on Tuesday of a nationally representative sample of about 15,000 youths aged 12 to 18 found that 88 percent of teenagers who pledged to remain virgins until they are married ended up having sex before marriage. The study [...] found that these teenagers were also less likely to use condoms when they did have sex because they had not paid attention to sex education. Because of their ignorance about sexually transmitted diseases, "pledgers" were also less likely to seek medical help if they contracted [a sexually transmitted disease].

Dr. Peter Bearman of Columbia University in New York, who headed the study, said the pledge movement failed to recognise the realities of adolescent sexuality. "Ideological programs designed to make serious interventions in public health programs tend not to work," he said. [...]

"These movements that are ignorant of social science research defeat the purpose they set out to solve," Bearman said.

These movements that are ignorant of social science research defeat the purpose they set out to solve. Truer words are rarely spoken, and Huntington would have done well to heed them.

Let's start with the come-hither paragraph at the top of Huntington's article:

The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves--from Los Angeles to Miami--and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.

Huntington's thesis puts me in mind of the Vlaams Blok's position on immigration - that the foreign born should never exceed five percent of the population. However, this does make the challenge more interesting. Huntington - rather than indulging in the kind of WASP elitism that Anglo-Protestant values have so often reflected in the past - is putting forward a slightly more sophisticated thesis. If he thought he had to he would say that, no, it's not that Mexicans are inherently inferior or incapable of becoming Americans. It's just that, unlike other immigrants past and present, they aren't becoming Americans.

A really good fisking should start by pointing out that the American dream - hard work gets you a decent life - is almost completely mythical; that Anglo-Protestant values didn't build America nearly as much as the sweat of cheap immigrant labourers (first from Africa, then from Europe and now from Mexico); and that anglophone Protestants have been happily rejecting Anglo-Protestant values for quite a long time now and have been doing so far more vocally and threateningly than Mexicans ever have.

But then, the whole first part of his essay involves saying such stupid things about American history that I can't pass them up.

America was created by 17th- and 18th-century settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British, and Protestant.

That depends on how you define overwhelming. Outside of New England (not counting the part of Maine that was still considered Canada), people who were identified as of English, Scottish and Welsh descent represented between 45% and 70% of the population, except for Virginia, where only 15% were of "Anglo-Protestant" descent. In New England, WASPs came to over 90% of the population, but only there. People identified as Dutch represented about 15% of New York state's population, Germans as about a quarter of Pennsylvania's, and about 20% of Americans were black in 1790. Of course, the 1790 census didn't count native Americans at all.

And, it depends on how you define America. The 13 colonies represented a small part of modern America. You have to assume that nothing going on in the Americas outside of the 13 colonies contributed at all to America's creation in order to make Huntington's statement true. But then, that fits his model of "value-driven" nationalism quite well.

In short, this is the New England WASP myth of America, something so archaic and so discredited that I didn't think anyone with a high school education still believed such a thing. Certainly the New England WASPs that I went to high school with didn't believe in such nonsense.

By the latter years of the 19th century, however, the ethnic component had been broadened to include Germans, Irish, and Scandinavians, and the United States' religious identity was being redefined more broadly from Protestant to Christian.

He's off by about a couple decades - most German-Americans didn't fully integrate until WWI and that was the result of a dedicated anti-German campaign - but I'll let that slide.

With World War II and the assimilation of large numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants and their offspring into U.S. society, ethnicity virtually disappeared as a defining component of national identity. So did race, following the achievements of the civil rights movement and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Americans now see and endorse their country as multiethnic and multiracial. As a result, American identity is now defined in terms of culture and creed.

I suspect this would have come as a surprise to most of New York or Chicago's inhabitants in the 50's, when those cities were still broken up into ethnic enclaves. But I suppose the basic point holds.

As a result, American identity is now defined in terms of culture and creed.

Most Americans see the creed as the crucial element of their national identity. The creed, however, was the product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers. Key elements of that culture include the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English concepts of the rule of law, including the responsibility of rulers and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a "city on a hill."

Now we're getting somewhere. Let's disassemble this paragraph carefully.

American identity is now defined in terms of culture and creed. So much for the idea that in America you're free to be who you want to be. But what's really interesting here is the use fo the word "creed." A creed is a statement of fundamental beliefs, usually used to designate a set of foundational religious tenets. Huntington carefully avoids saying that you have to actually be a Protestant to be an American, but he still lists both Christianity and religious commitment as core American values. Is he really that bigoted?

But more important is the second part, where he actually defines "Anglo-Protestant values." They are - pretty much as I expected - the usual Weberian rigmarole of individualism, self-reliance and work ethics. In short, values far more readily found among Mexican immigrants than among WASPs. This is a truly gross distortion of not only American history but of the history of Protestantism. America's religious dissenters - the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the refugee German churches, the Huguenots - were overwhelmingly organised into tightly-knit interdependent communities. They were the very opposite of self-reliant or individualistic. One of my biggest surprises upon moving to Belgium was to discover that here, people believe self-reliance and individualism to be quintessentially Catholic values, in contrast to those communalist Dutch and Germans.

The rest is mostly nonsense. There's very little that demonstrates self-reliance better than taking control of your own fate by moving to another country in search of better paid work, nor does anything demonstrate a work ethic more than picking strawberries for a living. I'm not sure what Huntington means by "English concepts of rule of law", because as far as I can tell the only thing distinctly English about them is Common Law, which doesn't even extend to Scotland. I suppose he might mean things like the right to trial by jury and the presumption of innocence, but those have been watered down to near meaninglessness these days. If he means the rejection of the idea that it's only a crime if you get caught, then I'm afraid he's out of touch with American values. I'm also confused by what he means by the "responsibility of rulers" and "rights of individuals." The US is quite far from the forefront as a defender of individual rights these days, and considering Mexico's history of overthrowing its governments, I suspect they have a clearer idea of the responsibility of rulers than most Americans do. If Huntington thinks Mexicans are either less Christian or have less commitment to religion than anglos, I have to ask what planet he is living on. And I really can't figure out where he gets the idea that American values include a duty to build "heaven on earth." To paraphrase a conservative Christian Republican of my acquaintance: Jesus said the poor would always be with us, so fuck them.

That just leaves English.

Contributions from immigrant cultures modified and enriched the Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers. The essentials of that founding culture remained the bedrock of U.S. identity, however, at least until the last decades of the 20th century. Would the United States be the country that it has been and that it largely remains today if it had been settled in the 17th and 18th centuries not by British Protestants but by French, Spanish, or Portuguese Catholics? The answer is clearly no. It would not be the United States; it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.

In the final decades of the 20th century, however, the United States' Anglo-Protestant culture and the creed that it produced came under assault by the popularity in intellectual and political circles of the doctrines of multiculturalism and diversity; the rise of group identities based on race, ethnicity, and gender over national identity; the impact of transnational cultural diasporas; the expanding number of immigrants with dual nationalities and dual loyalties; and the growing salience for U.S. intellectual, business, and political elites of cosmopolitan and transnational identities. The United States' national identity, like that of other nation-states, is challenged by the forces of globalization as well as the needs that globalization produces among people for smaller and more meaningful "blood and belief" identities.

So much is wrong with these two paragraphs that I don't quite know where to start. The first sentence is a platitude, oft repeated by people who don't know better, to the American melting pot. It gives you this image of the construction of American culture as a friendly church potluck, where outsiders would come bearing new dishes as gifts and then would pass out the recipes to things people liked. This isn't really very far from most people's conceptions. Americans are rarely able to name any "contributions from immigrant cultures" other than food and, at the very limit, music. There's a good reason for that. Unless you count African-Americans as an immigrant culture, those cultural contributions have been few and far between.

The Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding fathers is undergoing a long, drawn out, violent death (for, as Huntington shows, it regrettably isn't quite dead yet). Its proximate causes are generally economic, and the exceptions mostly involve bloodshed and social upheaval. Of the major social values of the founding fathers, social equality (among white men at least) died at the hand of industrialisation along with the last genuine belief in personal self-reliance; entrenched racial categorisation has diminished, in part from economic causes and in part because a lot of people fought, suffered and died for it; America's self-identification as explicitly Christian and Protestant ended in the aftermath of WWII - those who had seen Auschwitz had a hard time keeping it up; the founding fathers' political elitism floundered with the establishment of a middle class society in the 40's and 50's and is only now making a real comeback; their belief in the responsibility of government to the people never was very strong, since they make clear the degree to which the federal government is deemed responsible to the states, not the people; as religious as the American public was in 1790, their leaders were distinctly hostile to it by the standards of the age.

Huntington lives in an alternate universe in which the cultural values of the founding fathers that are no longer, thankfully, politically correct weren't really essential, so their disappearance and the struggle to make them disappear is reclassified as never having been a threat to American values. It makes me think of those idiots who see slavery as some sort of regrettable blot on the perfect government devised by the founding fathers, instead of seeing the real, enduring, structural and persistent effect it had and continues to have on American institutions. Nothing in America - for better and for worse - would be the way it is without the entrenchment of the injustices present at its founding.

The truth is that for the whole of American history, the values that most Americans recognised of as essential to their identity have been under constant threat, and much of what is right and good in America (as well as some of what is wrong and awful) comes from Americans losing battles to preserve those very values. That is why even if all of Huntington's claims about the threat Mexicans represent to American values were true (which they aren't), it would still be narrow-minded and xenophobic to warn people of the dangers of letting Mexicans into the country for no better reason than that it threatens American identity. Huntington's own myth of America is one where an ever growing number of people with an ever more diverse set of values is identified as American.

No, America would not be Quebec or Mexico or Brazil if it wasn't anglophone. Of course, it wouldn't be the America it is now, but so what? You'll forgive me for suspecting that he wants to imply that America would be poorer, less stable and (whispering) darker if it was different. If so, then Quebec is a rather odd entry on that list.

The second paragraph, though, shows us where Huntington really stands. It's quite striking that he identifies globalisation as one of the causes of America's woes, but that term is no more meaningful coming from his mouth than it is when Thomas Friedman says it. I've heard lots of people claim that globalisation has reinforced small group identities - it's usually a leftist claim - but I've never heard anyone put forward a convincing explanation for the phenomenon. Frankly, I don't even think that it's true.

In the second part of this post, I'm going to put forward a theory about why small group identities are growing more visible, and arguably more important to people's self-identity, without fingering globalisation at all.

Huntington thinks that group identities based on race, ethnicity, and gender are growing in importance relative to national identity, but if this is true it's at least as much because national identity is losing its hold. Does anyone really think that whether or not you're black in America is more essential to how you live your life now than it was in 1965? To target "multiculturalism" as some sort of alien doctrine, instead of as the simple recognition that not everything important in the world happens to people from your tribe - that's pretty typical on the right.

But, I want to draw your attention especially to the idea that the threat from Mexicans comes in part from their "dual nationalities and dual loyalties." I would ask my readers, especially Jewish readers, if that accusation sounds at all familiar? Huntington's concerns echo complaints about Jews dating back at least to the Reformation.

In this new era, the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American natives. Americans like to boast of their past success in assimilating millions of immigrants into their society, culture, and politics. But Americans have tended to generalise about immigrants without distinguishing among them and have focused on the economic costs and benefits of immigration, ignoring its social and cultural consequences.

Every new immigrant group to come to America since at least the Great Potato Famine has been accused of breeding like rabbits. It gives xenophobia a sort of moral justification and a sensual, tawdry side all at once. The unwanted minority's problems are held to flow from their open sexuality and their lack of control over their animal urges. This complaint was once levied against the Irish in America and in the UK alike, and has a long history across the English speaking world as the standard complaint about all Catholic immigrants. In Canada, people used to say it about the domestic French population. Later, it was the Italians' turn in the US, then the Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Filipinos. But, it's a good excuse even for non-Catholics. It's been deployed against blacks around the world and was even one of the grounds given for the Chinese Exclusion Act.

As for Americans tending not to distinguish among immigrants, even at the beginning of the 20th century they were quite content to accept French and British immigrants, reasonably comfortable with German, Dutch and Scandinavian immigration, wholly willing to accept Canadians (since annexation was deemed inevitable by many until after WWI), and didn't really deem Mexicans a social problem either. But, they were dead set against any immigration from the Caribbean or Asia, and immigrants from eastern and southern Europe were considered unacceptably alien and impossible to integrate by large parts of the American public.

And I haven't even reached the end of the first page. Huntington has not yet explained in what way Mexican immigration is different from other waves of immigration, but I wanted to get the whole manner in which he demonstrates a shocking lack of knowledge of the history of his own country out of the way before moving on to his specific claims.

Posted 2004/03/10 17:42 (Wed) | TrackBack
Comments

I knew this was going to be good.

Still, I think that some of your comments are a bit overwrought, making your argument come off (to me, at least) as sometimes contradictory. For example, how is it that "Americans are rarely able to name any 'contributions from immigrant cultures' other than food and, at the very limit, music" (which would seem to imply that Americans have strongly resisted most challenges to their preferred ways and mores), but, at the same time, "the Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding fathers is undergoing...a long, drawn out, violent death" (which would seem to imply that Americans don't in fact have much of a basis for cultural resistance)? Maybe I'm just missing your point, but here and at a few other places I think your indignation may be getting the better of you.

More on my blog (here: http://philosophenweg.blogspot.com/2004_03_01_philosophenweg_archive.html#107898695983048229). But in the meantime, I look forward to your attack on Huntington's claims regarding language acquisition. Keep it up.

Posted by: Russell Arben Fox at March 11, 2004 7:39

"A fisking, for those who need to know, is a detailed rebuttal, usually
on a line-by-line basis or at least with heavy quoting from the original
text. It is named in honour of Robert Fisk, who was for a number of years
the Middle East correspondent for London's The Independent newspaper and
has frequently been subjected to exactly such treatment."

Your definition is incomplete. The closing period should end "...by
right-wing cranks without even 1% of the knowledge and experience Fisk
can bring to bear on the subject". A dangerous word to use, if only
because it associates you with some of the most repulsive creatures of the
"blogsphere".

Posted by: The Shamrockshire Eagle, editor and sole proprietor of at March 11, 2004 7:41

Russell - you're right, on rereading, I think that time pressures led me to be a bit on the melodramatic side. I should have clarified the point you draw out, because I don't see a real contradiction. Americans have resisted changes that they perceive as coming from the outside - a sort of national "Not Invented Here" syndrome. They have, however, changed a great deal, but generally because of (as the Marxists usually put it) internal contradictions in their own social structure. America's established minorties have contributed a great deal to American culture, but to say that its immigrants have is something of an emplty platitude unless you're talking about what Americans eat.

I've seen "fisking" in regular use on both sides of the aisle, and I've certianly seen both do it. So I'm treating it as conventional usage until I can see whether or not its entered the common lexicon. As for Fisk himself - I haven't read any great deal of his work and have little opinion per se.

Posted by: Scott Martens at March 11, 2004 9:41

"U.S. adolescents who pledge not to have sex until they are married have about the same rate of sexually transmitted diseases as other teenagers and they often fail to keep their pledge, according to a study."

That's interesting, especially since in a 2000 pub, Bearman observes, "By the standards set by most social movements, the pledge movement has been a resounding success."
http://www.sociology.columbia.edu/downloads/other/psb17/virginity.pdf

Not perfect, but then not a failure either.


Posted by: degustibus at March 13, 2004 11:51

However, this does make the challenge more interesting. Huntington - rather than indulging in the kind of WASP elitism that Anglo-Protestant values have so often reflected in the past - is putting forward a slightly more sophisticated thesis. If he thought he had to he would say that, no, it's not that Mexicans are inherently inferior or incapable of becoming Americans. It's just that, unlike other immigrants past and present, they aren't becoming Americans

I think this is the typical conservative gesture towards the dominance of hegemonic liberal values that tries to disguise some of its soft intolerance. Liberalism is meant to celebrate diversity and allow inclusion into the political-national order; the debate being framed as being one of what tests/yardsticks to apply towards minorities that will allow their incorporation into the nation. The problem with this is whether such tests are ever extended in good faith and voluntarily as opposed to pressure from below; not to mention the whole problem of assimilation into a dominant culture as opposed to acculturation between two based on a level of mutual assent. There is a hidden conservative bias here, in that I think, the parameters of such incorporation keep on shifting and are always based on some sort of exclusion, any incorporation being quite limited.

Outside of New England (not counting the part of Maine that was still considered Canada), people who were identified as of English, Scottish and Welsh descent represented between 45% and 70% of the population, except for Virginia, where only 15% were of "Anglo-Protestant" descent. In New England, WASPs came to over 90% of the population, but only there. People identified as Dutch represented about 15% of New York state's population, Germans as about a quarter of Pennsylvania's, and about 20% of Americans were black in 1790. Of course, the 1790 census didn't count native Americans at all.

I guess what he is driving at here, is that there is a sort of hegemony of ethnicity in the US, as well - which sort of effaces an Anglo-Saxon Whiteness as the background against which all other sub-national ethnicities must be incorporated into. I mean we all hear about Polish-American, Italian-American, African-American but I have never come across anybody described as English-American; this allows a WASPish identity to act as somehow being the foundational one for the USA and later immigrant Americans and being the first here, confers a sort of leading privilege in defining what this nationalism is about. I assume, that this is part of the ideology of American nationalism for orthodox Conservatives like Huntington.

American identity is now defined in terms of culture and creed. So much for the idea that in America you're free to be who you want to be. But what's really interesting here is the use fo the word "creed." A creed is a statement of fundamental beliefs, usually used to designate a set of foundational religious tenets. Huntington carefully avoids saying that you have to actually be a Protestant to be an American, but he still lists both Christianity and religious commitment as core American values. Is he really that bigoted?

Well, arguably he does strike an important vein of truth here. Christianity does seem to be a very powerful marker of identity in the US and has associations with its nationalism, that while sublated tend to as a colleagues from the US once described to me "seethe below the surface". I assume this is part of what Bellah would have meant by Americans having a 'civil religion' - i.e. it is important for the President to be seen going to church and as a god-fearing member of a congregation; which church, which congregation and what doctrine matters less than having one. Needless to say this can make the US seem a bit hostile for non-Christians. Anecdotally, one difference I notice is the different attitudes some non-Christians have towards some of the more popular Christian festivals like Christmas which are celebrated with such great gusto; something which in much of Europe has become a de-sacralised family holiday can hold some fears of being subsumed into a more threateningly absorptive capacity in the US - this is just my general impression and I could be mistaken. Still, I would think that Christianity has a significance as a core value for many parts of the political spectrum, in a way that probably isn't so true of Europe and other states, despite the latter in many cases having weaker state-church distinctions.

One of my biggest surprises upon moving to Belgium was to discover that here, people believe self-reliance and individualism to be quintessentially Catholic values, in contrast to those communalist Dutch and Germans.

I suspect this could be as much social as religious; one of the tropes popular in England is the supposed individuality and reserve that is usually taken to be an Anglican Protestant value compared to the Catholic parts of the Continent. Of course the comparison here, is frequently with the Mediterranean countries where differences could probably be explained by differences in the family structure and alternative demographic patterns.

I'm not sure what Huntington means by "English concepts of rule of law"

I suspect, in line with the rest of his value-driven concepts of sociology, what he means refers more to willingness to institutionalise various political and civil conflicts through rule-based procedural and judicial channels as opposed to informal or centralised, discretionary methods. A sort of variant of the gemeinschaft vs gessellscahft dichotomy. Obviously, given the workings of the American judicial system and financial markets, this looks very idealised.

I've heard lots of people claim that globalisation has reinforced small group identities - it's usually a leftist claim - but I've never heard anyone put forward a convincing explanation for the phenomenon. Frankly, I don't even think that it's true.

Hmm, the most convincing take on this, is the one put forward by some post-structuralist scholars about 'hyper-enchantment' supposedly a backlash against various intrusions of the bureaucratic state that break-down with the pressure of globalising capitalism. This usually means a revival of sub-national ethnic identities that clamour for their own states as a solution to their socio-economic problems as in the FRY or devolution in the UK. I am unsure how far one can push this argument, some ME scholars have tried to apply it to Islamic societies who when faced with rapid economic change and social dislocation; try and expand out into wider trans-national links with the broader religious community. In either case, it is an attempt to replace the existing nation-state with either smaller versions, closer to previously sub-ordinate groups usually based on ethnicity or to expand and erase such boundaries altogether.

To target "multiculturalism" as some sort of alien doctrine, instead of as the simple recognition that not everything important in the world happens to people from your tribe - that's pretty typical on the right.

Rather unfortunately there is some of this going on in the left as well; with the oft-repeated refrain one hears these days about how "I was a liberal/leftist/radical (delete as appropriate) until September 11 and then I realised ?..". there is a kind of auto-centrism here that is quite breath-taking in its complacency; with quite a few middle-class 'progressives' suddenly claiming that they need to shift to the right since the ungrateful external world doesn't appreciate all the good that they have been trying to do over the past few years. A very self-serving and erroneous view, to say the least, in my opinion and I think it taps into the same kind of unquestioned ethno-centrism that Conservatives like Huntington have always shared.

I would ask my readers, especially Jewish readers, if that accusation sounds at all familiar? Huntington's concerns echo complaints about Jews dating back at least to the Reformation.

And very much in line with the rest of the 'Clash of Civilisations' theory; as the French writer Emmanuel Todd pointed out, most of the reviews of Huntington's thesis; especially by the Rightwing spectrum of Zionist opinion in the US, overlooks the fact that Israel doesn't quite fit into "Christian West" and sort of occupies a no-man's zone between these two antagonistic civilisational blocs. Opportunist reviews like that of Daniel Pipes; Todd notes glosses over the rather ominous silence Huntington has and the potentially negative implications here for any state as any people caught either outside their 'own zone' of civilisational influence or in an interstitial zone of conflict. For Muslims in the West as much as for Christians in Pakistan or Muslims in India, the prognosis in any such clash does not look good to say the least and such populations are prone to either accusations of dual loyalty or reprisals of some sort by either private groups or the state.

Every new immigrant group to come to America since at least the Great Potato Famine has been accused of breeding like rabbits. It gives xenophobia a sort of moral justification and a sensual, tawdry side all at once. The unwanted minority's problems are held to flow from their open sexuality and their lack of control over their animal urges.

Though I assume both the high mortality rates amongst some sub-sections of minority communities such as African-American males under 30 has a dampener on this as does the ravages of a crumbling public health infrastructure, AIDs, drug use, inner city decay etc. Differential infant mortality rates must be quite large across ethnic groups inside the USA as a result, though it probably won't offset the fertility effects - a function of income more than anything else in anycase.


Posted by: Conrad Barwa at March 16, 2004 2:05

Excellent paper, at least as far as the form is concerned. On the other hand, regarding the content of it it seems a bit too much politically correct.(or is it just a style exercise : blog, blog, blog?)
I think that Huntington is just putting an idea forward, exploring, probing the future as it were.
A mere continuation of its Clash of Civilisations.
...
I 'm looking forward to reading the second installment.

Posted by: edAlPerAnd at May 20, 2004 2:14
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