THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT
Racists will love new 'Hispanic
Racists in America
must be having a field day: At long last, they have found a
world-renowned intellectual -- Harvard's Academy for
International and Area Studies Chairman Samuel Huntington -- to
rationalize their resentment against America's rapidly growing
Huntington, whose 1993 book The Clash of Civilizations
was later credited for having foreseen the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks, says in his forthcoming book Who We Are
(Simon & Schuster) that the United States is threatened with
national disintegration because of the soaring rate of Hispanic
''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,'' writes
Huntington, in excerpts of the book posted on the Foreign Policy
magazine website .
''Will the United States remain a country with a single
national language and a core Anglo-Protestant culture?''
Huntington asks. ''By ignoring this question, Americans
acquiesce to their eventual transformation into two peoples with
two cultures (Anglo and Hispanics) and two languages (English
and Spanish.)'' The magazine website is
Before I tell you why I think this is pseudo-academic
xenophobic rubbish, let's look at Huntington's supporting
arguments: He says Mexican immigrants differ from other
immigrants in that they are not assimilating into the U.S.
mainstream culture, and that they may one day reclaim the
territories that Mexico lost during U.S. military invasions in
the 19th century.
CAUSES OF ALARM
He is alarmed by the fact that the ratings of
Spanish-language television stations have surpassed those of
English-language ones in Miami, that ''Josť'' has surpassed
''Michael'' as the most popular name for newborn boys in
California, and that Mexican Americans cheer for Mexico in U.S.
vs. Mexico soccer matches.
Huntington sees ''a major potential threat to the country's
cultural and political integration.'' Mexico may one day try to
''assert special rights and claims to that territory,'' he
Poor Dr. Huntington. Watching America from his Bostonian
observation deck, he is getting real nervous about the erosion
of what he defines as America's ``Anglo-Protestant culture.''
But, as seen from Miami, where a majority of adults speak a
language other than English at home, his idea that Hispanics
pose a threat to America is absurd.
In Miami, many immigrants don't speak English, but their
children eventually do.
You saw as many American flags as in any other U.S. city
after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the city has become a center of
international trade and services precisely because it is
bilingual and bicultural.
And where is it written that people are biologically limited
to speaking only one language?
Anybody who has traveled through Europe knows that the Swiss,
Danes, Swedes and others speak two, three and sometimes four
And Huntington's claim that Mexican Americans pose a bigger
threat than Cuban Americans because they are more reluctant to
assimilate is simply wrong.
Every time I go to Los Angeles or San Antonio I'm amazed by
the number of people with names such as ''Juan Gonzalez'' who
don't speak Spanish.
According to a new nationwide study of U.S. Hispanics by the
Synovate market research company, the actual trend among
Hispanics is toward greater assimilation, despite the new waves
of Spanish-speaking newcomers.
Over the past 12 years, the number of unassimilated Hispanics
-- those who don't consume English-language media -- has
decreased from 40 percent to 26 percent, the study's authors
''Most Hispanics, about 63 percent, are bilingual and
bicultural,'' says Jim Forrest, the study's director. ``These
people are extremely comfortable in both languages. It's a group
that has accommodated and has learned how to live in the United
States taking the best from their host culture and keeping the
best from their home culture.''
If you are wondering whether Huntington's arguments are just
misguided, or plainly Hispano-phobic, I suggest doing this
little exercise: replace the term ''Hispanic'' in the text with
''African American,'' or ''black,'' then ask yourself what would
be the reaction of the black community. I assure you that civil
rights groups would call for national protests against Harvard
University and Simon & Schuster, as they should do in this case.