March 12, 2004

Commentary

Huntington’s Disease

By Andrés Lozano

Often, truisms added do not account for the truth. Inspired maybe by a B movie-flick, professor Samuel Huntington foists upon us a fresh conspiracy theory: Mexicans will soon overtake American civilization! Wow! To this purpose, he amasses an ill-fitting jigsaw puzzle applicable to every immigrant wave since the Pilgrims anchored at Plymouth Rock. Professor Huntington would have been a celebrity among the Wampanoag, yet fails to fathom the simplest of facts: All identity is transitional, progress is nobody’s monopoly and change is the only fixed fact of life! Otherwise, we would still be talking in Latin, Greek or Sanskrit. More Hispanics are learning English, mixing and melting in California, Illinois and Texas than WASPS are learning Spanish, mixing frozen Margaritas and melting Nachos.

Where is the American identity heading? Who knows and who cares! Yes, until the mid nineteenth century the American profile was mainly white, Anglo-Saxon and protestant, so what? Had it remained such, population growth would have peaked at the forty million mark by the dawn of the twentieth century and lacked the wherewithal, might and determination to take head on and overcome sundry totalitarian challenges. No put off implied: America would be like Canada. Go figure how two Canadas could have licked the Kaiser, Hitler and Communism. By the mid twentieth century, America was a medley of mostly northern and central Europeans backgrounds strongly rooted on the traditional American identity of yore. In all likelihood, it will remain such circa 2104. Barring a grinding halt in today’s American birthrate and exponential natality among Hispanics, unlikely possibilities, five generations hence, Americans will look like they do today plus improved language and cooking skills. Is that such a bad outcome?

Mexican Americans have received military distinctions in US foreign wars at rates far beyond their relative numbers in uniform. George S. Patton simply adored and totally trusted Mexican American GI’s in battle. Is a better homage possible? When push comes to shove, not too many conscientious objectors hide within Gung-Ho Hispanic ranks. The sands of Iwo-Jima, Omaha Beach and La Drang Valley brim with abundantly shed Hispanic blood.

Huntington’s assertions are even more troubling for those among us dead set against the silly fad of multiculturalism, because they are entrenched in a fascination with a sclerotic-view-of-life. It is a very dangerous belief indeed, rife with supremacist hues and inferences. Implicitly, it puts undue pressure upon African Americans, a group slower to assimilate and become mainstream than Hispanics will ever be. Hispanics are devoted to traits such as religious and family values, as other immigrant groups towards their old cultures. Professor Huntington can rest assured we are not planning to annex the Southwest back to Mexico. The risk is Hispanics might consider annexing the rest of Mexico into the US and Americanize it. Mexicans, not Americans, should be worried about identity loss through cultural dilution. If Mexicans do not put their act together and resume growth, stalling since 1970, inevitably they will be soaked into a new and different cultural identity without leaving home. Americanization, not Mexicanization, is the salient angle of the relationship. Territorial contiguity creeps on traditional Mexican mores at a faster rate than the other way around. Cultural attrition, thus, is a southbound hazard. Regarding Cubans in Florida, come on, they are Americans with a vengeance!

Catholicism swells in America without Hispanic numbers added. Spanish is a mature, updated, growing, grammatically dazzling language, spoken by almost as many English speakers worldwide, soon to become number one without Hispanic conspiracy. Its phonetic aptness assures that, it remains a unified language. A claim few other languages, not English by the way, can claim. If you must, please verify this contention with Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle!

Even if Mr. Huntington desires came true and Hispanic cultural contribution in America was smothered and uprooted, it would be an excellent idea for English-only-speakers to learn a language, key to half a billion consumers and growing. Mr. Huntington’s nativist string is boilerplate zero-sum-game liberal slop, a construct at odds with reality. It ignores or conceals the fact, that melting is a slow process, taking the better part of several generations to happen. In the process, changes occur always improving the outcome, a very good thing in fact! New genetic material entails enhanced possibilities. At once, America is Athens and Rome thanks to this pollination and its ensuing enriched gene pool. Huntington’s indictment of things Hispanic is as valid as if leveled against Italians in Philly, Jews in Brooklyn, the Irish in South Boston or Poles in Chicago. Generations later they still mutter at home Italian, Yiddish and Polish and preferably marry among their own kin; that makes them lesser Americans? Irish banner waving and green beer guzzling in Saint Patrick’s Day are as inoffensive to the pristine American self as taco munching and Virgin of Guadalupe pageantry every Cinco de Mayo in East LA. Yearly, Yom Kippur, halts Manhattan to a standstill, so what? Truly, Mr. Huntington must convince us he is not a jingoistic bigot posturing as an Academic.

Andrés Lozano alozanoh@msn.com

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