Sunday, February 29, 2004


Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilisations" has still got the Left on the hop: "In our time, few formulations have sparked more controversy than Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis. In the Harvard political scientist's view, laid out in a 1993 Foreign Affairs essay and expanded into a book three years later, the conflicts of the post-Cold War era will arise not from ideological or economic differences but from cultural divisions. To his admirers, Huntington is a prophet who foresaw the current confrontation with radical Islam... Last weekend, prominent thinkers gathered at a Skidmore College conference ... Participating was a virtual Who's Who of left-liberal academics and public intellectuals ... the panelists were nearly unanimous in their outright rejection of a "clash of civilizations....More than a reconsideration of Huntington, the event doubled as a high-powered bull session on the preoccupations of contemporary liberalism: What are America's obligations to the world? Can there be such a thing as a just war? How is democracy best promoted abroad? How can the secular be reconciled to the sacred? How do universal rights mesh with indigenous traditions?"

Huntington on Mexican immigration to the US and the rise of Spanglish: "Continuation of this large immigration (without improved assimilation) could divide the United States into a country of two languages and two cultures. A few stable, prosperous democracies-such as Canada and Belgium-fit this pattern... The transformation of the United States into a country like these would not necessarily be the end of the world; it would, however, be the end of the America we have known for more than three centuries. Americans should not let that change happen unless they are convinced that this new nation would be a better one. Such a transformation would not only revolutionize the United States, but it would also have serious consequences for Hispanics, who will be in the United States but not of it. Sosa ends his book, The Americano Dream, with encouragement for aspiring Hispanic entrepreneurs. "The Americano dream?" he asks. "It exists, it is realistic, and it is there for all of us to share." Sosa is wrong. There is no Americano dream. There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. Mexican Americans will share in that dream and in that society only if they dream in English. "

Conservative columnist David Brooks argues against Huntington here. Brooks says that Latinos ARE integrating over time. It seems that a retreat from political correctness on this issue is allowing serious immigration debate to occur without a barrage of ad hominem attacks.

I myself think that Huntington is courageously accurate in his stress on the key role in America of Anglo-Protestant culture. Britain today comprises roughly one percent of the earth's population and I doubt that the proportion has varied much in the last few hundred years. Yet the influence of that one percent on practically everything has been immense. To take just one example that is almost never mentioned: Sport. Sport is a major human activity, yet the three sports that the whole world plays were all invented in Britain: Soccer, Golf and Tennis. And boxing is as far as I know still mostly done according to British (Queensbury) rules too. And there is the little matter of cricket. It's not played by all the world but a sport with around a billion followers (mostly in the Indian sub-continent) sure dwarfs most other "local" sports. And the vast British influence on sport is despite the fact that the British themselves are appalling at sports! A sporting win by a British person or team is a rare event.


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