The hunt is on for Samuel P. Huntington, the distinguished Harvard political scientist whose new book Who Are We? lifts a skeptical eyebrow at mass immigration and the cultural devastation it inflicts.
Mr. Huntington, author of the acclaimed Clash of Civilizations a few years back, has already raised ripples in the placid ponds of elite opinion with his article on how mass Hispanic immigration undermines what he calls the cultural integrity of the nation’s “Anglo-Protestant core.”
The placid ponds, you see, don’t think the nation has or should have any cultural core except what they permit and define, and “Anglo”anything is definitely not permitted, any more than Protestant,Catholic, or any other kind of Christian identity. When a world-famous Harvard professor opposes mass immigration and defends the Anglo-Protestant identity of his country, the pond knows he has to be muzzled before his ideas get out of Harvard Yard.
But if you can’t muzzle him, you can at least ridicule and distort what he says, which is what Deborah Solomon did in an interview with Mr. Huntington in the New York Times magazine last Sunday. [Three Cheers for Assimilation, Interview by Deborah Solomon, May 2, 2004]
She didn’t get away with it, but she did reveal a good many of her own preconceptions about immigration and race.
Mr. Huntington started off the interview with a brief summary of his thesis—that more than half the immigrants coming into the country are Hispanic and speak “a single, non-English language,” and that this fact, coupled with other cultural characteristics, sets the stage for massive cultural, political and racial clashes.
Miss Solomon apparently had a lot of trouble understanding what he just said. “Doesn’t America’s greatness lie in its ability to assimilate all kinds of people?” she asked.
Mr. Huntington explained that the Founding Fathers were skeptical about letting just anyone into the country, to which Miss Solomon responds, “But we’ve welcomed waves of immigrants since,”which is the same question she just asked. Mr. Huntington answered by affirming that “immigration has been central to American development.” That didn’t help.
Finally, Miss Solomon gets down to business. Her second question to Mr. Huntington was, “Some of us find it surprising that a man like yourself, a Harvard professor and an eminent political scientist, would see the trend toward bilingualism as such a threat.”
Interesting. First, who is “us” exactly? And second, why are “we” so surprised somebody at Harvard and an eminent political scientist disagrees with “us”?
It couldn’t possibly be because “we” are so narrow-minded and empty-headed, could it? It must be that Mr. Huntington is, well, driven by his own ethnic fears and resentments. Exposing this discovery is the business to which Miss Solomon finally applies her meager talents.
“Are you an immigrant?” she asks. “I hope you’re not one of those Mayflower snobs.” You can be against immigration only if you’re an immigrant, I guess. If you’re not for mass immigration and worry about the cultural identity of the country, you must be a “snob.”
Mr. Huntington says his family goes back to 1633. Well, sounds like Miss Solomon is on the right track.
“Did you grow up in a WASP-y mansion in Connecticut with servants?” she asks. By now, what’s clear is that Miss Solomon treads a little ethnic water of her own. Maybe that’s the reason she doesn’t like people—especially WASP-y Mayflower snobs—criticizing immigration.
“Do you think that there is any truth to the stereotypical view of WASP’s as emotionally cold people?” she asks. At this point, Mr. Huntington might have simply smacked her face and walked out, but, being a Mayflower snob, he didn’t.
What if Miss Solomon interviewed Jesse Jackson and asked, “Do you think there is any truth to the stereotypical views of blacks as stupid, lazy, and violent?” I’ll bet she would have a great career as a pizza delivery girl. But regurgitating negative stereotypes of “WASPs”is OK.
There is a good deal more to what Samuel Huntington has to say than Miss Solomon’s pitiful little zingers managed to elicit, and what he says is not always right, but, as mentioned above, finding out what he thinks and why wasn’t really the point of the interview at all.
The point was to expose Mr. Huntington as a “WASP,” a “Mayflower snob,” which apparently means someone proud of his own ethnic and cultural identity who wishes to preserve the country and civilization his ancestors created, and therefore, his case against mass immigration need not be taken seriously.
If we learn anything at all from Miss Solomon’s insulting but revealing interview, it is that she and the “us” to whom she reports don’t like that identity one little bit and believe that if mass immigration wipes it and the people who created it out of existence, that would be terrific.