Friday, March 25, 2005

U.S. Immigration – The Hispanic Challenge?

In March 2004, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington caused quite a stir in Mexico with the publication of his article “The Hispanic Challenge” in Foreign Policy magazine. The article was also expanded into a book entitled Who Are We. Such intellectual heavyweights as Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa were called upon to refute Huntington, who points out that U.S. immigration is overwhelmingly Hispanic and, when legal and illegal immigration are combined, predominantly from a single country: Mexico. He calls that lopsided immigration a danger to U.S. “Anglo-Protestant values” and says that it “threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages.” You can read the article on Foreign Policy’s Website at the following URL:

Huntington’s article and book might not have received so much attention if it had not been for an earlier work. In 1993, he published an article called “The Clash of Civilizations” in which he divided the world into seven or eight different civilizations that he claimed would be increasingly in conflict with each other. After the attacks of September 11 in New York, some saw the article as prophetic. That article is also online. The URL is:

While I agree that it would be better to have a more varied immigration, I believe that Huntington greatly overstates the problem. His basic error is in assuming that the United States has a static, Anglo-Protestant culture. I do not believe that a country that has elected an Irish-Catholic president, whose current and past Secretaries of State were Afro-American, which consumes more salsa mexicana than ketchup, and which has a Jewish mayor of one of its two most important cities (Michael Bloomberg, New York) can be considered Anglo-Protestant. I believe that most people in the U.S. would agree that the U.S. culture is both varied and dynamic.

The other weakness of Professor Huntington’s study of immigration is his exclusively academic approach. He bases his argument on statistics and quotations from prominent figures. The statistics indicate that Hispanics are integrating into American society more slowly than past immigrants. That may be the case, but there is a difference between integrating more slowly and not integrating at all. The statistics show that Hispanics are integrating.

Huntington quotes several Hispanic “leaders” to show their anti-U.S. bias. If Huntington had left his office and gone out in the street to mingle with immigrants, he would have learned that most Hispanic immigrants do not share the opinions of these self-appointed spokespeople. For example, in California and Arizona, the majority of Hispanics ignored the urgings of the Spanish-language media and voted to abolish poorly run bi-lingual education programs. Most Hispanic parents want their children to learn English, and they realized that the so-called bi-lingual programs were not doing a good job of teaching it. Although many Mexican-born immigrants have an understandable nostalgia for the country where they grew up, they do not want to turn the U.S. into the society that they struggled so hard to leave.

If you would like to add your comments, please click below and do so. I would like to know what you have to say.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Are the French Anti-American?

Tuesday March 22, 2005 – Grenoble, France – I have been fascinated by French society ever since I arrived in this country as an exchange student almost seven months ago. At the age of 60, I had decided to learn a fourth language, and I choose French. In two years, I completed three years of college French at Arizona State University near Phoenix. However, French is taught poorly at ASU. I realized that I would have to come to France if I were ever to learn to speak the language. I enrolled in a student exchange program, and here I am.

I did not have as many prejudices about the French as many of my friends in the U.S., but I had some. I knew the French in general do not hate us, as so many Americans believe, but I expected some negative encounters. I was not at all prepared for the warm reception, even from the Arabs that I have met.

I once walked into a room that was occupied by four Algerians. After we exchanged greetings, they asked were I was from. A bit hesitantly I admitted that I was from Arizona in the U.S., and I prepared myself for a hostile reaction. However, their eyes lighted up, and they jumped up to shake my hand. One of them said he had a cousin studying in Tucson, Arizona and that he had a special fondness for the United States. Another pulled out a camera and went to find someone to snap a picture of the five of us together. They were delighted to meet someone from a country that they said they all aspired to go to.

Most of the French that I know here in Grenoble are young university students who may not be typical of the French population. I take several classes in which I am the only person who is not from France or one of its French-speaking former colonies, and I am always warmly received. The French read in the newspapers, just as Americans do, that French have an antipathy for Americans, and like Americans, put far too much faith in what the media tell them. Occasionally a French person will apologize to me for the anti-American attitude of other French people in the mistaken belief that I must have encountered it. However, I have not been able to figure out just who these anti-American French people are. I don’t seem to have met any of them..

Granted, almost all French people dislike President George W. Bush, but they do not confuse him with the American people. They are baffled by Bush’s reelection, and they do not understand why the U.S. went to war in Iraq. However, they like us Americans, even if they do not understand how we could re-elect a man that they consider to be a bad president.

I find the French as a whole do be more tolerant and understanding than Americans. Do the French have faults? You betcha! We will talk about those in another entry.