Samuel Huntington died. I haven’t read anything serious by him, with the exception of the hispanic challenge a while ago. Given that I grew up in a Chicago neighborhood where you could see Polish signs in the windows and Polish language bus schedules in 1985, and have spent much of my adult career working alongside brilliant Indians and Chinese people with various visa situations, my thoughts on the situation tend to be less focused through keeping a single pure Protestant culture intact. (But I didn’t meet anyone I realized was a Protestant until I was 18, so I’m probably part of the problem.)
I do want to quote this Louis Menand review of his “Who We Are” – the last line of this excerpt is one of my favorite sly jokes I’ve read:
The bad guys in Huntington’s scenario can be divided into two groups. One is composed of intellectuals, people who preach dissent from the values of the “core culture.” As is generally the case with indictments of this sort, recognizable names are sparse. Among those that do turn up are Bill Clinton, Al Gore, the political theorist Michael Walzer, and the philosopher Martha Nussbaum. All of them would be astonished to learn that they are deconstructionists. (It is amazing how thoroughly the word “deconstruction” has been drained of meaning, and by the very people who accuse deconstruction of draining words of meaning.) What Huntington is talking about is not deconstruction but bilingualism, affirmative action, cosmopolitanism (a concept with which Nussbaum is associated), pluralism (Walzer), and multiculturalism (Clinton and Gore). “Multiculturalism is in its essence anti-European civilization,” Huntington says. “It is basically an anti-Western ideology.”
He thinks that the deconstructionists had their sunny moment in the late nineteen-eighties and early nineties, and were beaten back during the culture wars that their views set off. They have not gone away, though. In the future, he says, “the outcomes of these battles in the deconstructionist war will undoubtedly be substantially affected by the extent to which Americans suffer repeated terrorist attacks on their homeland and their country engages in overseas wars against its enemies.” The more attacks and wars, he suggests, the smaller the deconstructionist threat. This may strike some readers as a high price to pay for keeping Martha Nussbaum in check.