As the issue of co-operation becomes ever more pressing, the quality of intellectual discourse on the topic declines—as Putnam’s self-censorship revealed—precisely because of a lack of trust due to the mounting political power of “the diverse” to punish frank discussion.
I’m relatively optimistic about immigration; perhaps, as some have noted, Texas assimilates people differently than does California. In Nebraska I saw the fruits of what had once been diverse cultures settling into relatively homogeneous ethnic communities, becoming assimilated, and blending within two or three generations. Perhaps this is also because I married into a relatively homogeneous ethnic group, coming from a family that was more diverse (having been in the country a good deal longer), and I see these strands working out in relatively useful and even lovely ways. Of course, this may partially be true because his ethnic group makes much use of the American flag, always precedes any “doings” with pledges of allegiance, singing of the national anthem and other displays that would seem cheesey to any ethnic rights group.
The neo-isolationism position of demagogues like Buchanan and Dobbs bothers me not only because it often seems unpleasant but also because it seems to me deadly to our health as a nation. (Sure we need to do something about the southern border and refusals to notice some of the really bad stuff that is going down there is not unlike our attitude after the Beirut bombing. But solutions need to recognize the vitality and love of work and even traditional family values that are pushing many of those across the border.)
So, Steve Sailer’s essay, “Fragmented Future: Multiculturalism doesn’t make vibrant communities but defensive ones”, which discusses the trust issues many Chicagoboyz analyze, is interesting (if pretty much intuitive in its discussion of human nature). The most disturbing part of the essay has less to do with diversity than with Robert Putnam’s self-censorship. Our unwillingness to look at human history and human nature without blinking is not serving us well.(In The American Conservative, and thanks to A&L.)
16 thoughts on “Frank Discussion of Diversity”
Note from SW Fla: A surprisingly high proportion of Hispanic immigrants (largely illegal, I assume) that I rub up against show a very high sense of entitlement, a low moral quality (at least with respect to private property and being trustworthy in business dealings), there is a thoughtlessness of others generally, and a strong anti-Anglo sentiment.
I don’t mean to say that most of these folk are this way but these qualities are common in this part of the country. For some, integration into US culture is the last thing on their mind. Perhaps being used by small businesses here combined with inherent illegal status, the stress of living in the margins, and the way things work back home leads to their outlook.
I haven’t read Buchanan’s column or heard him speak for awhile but I think you’re off the mark labeling him a demagogue (I note you don’t link to anything there). One might disagree with him from time to time but his arguments always seem sound to me.
I am interested in how you think California and Texas differ on assimilation.
I’ve only lived in Cal, so I don’t have any basis to compare, but I do recall when visting Austin of all places (about a dozen years ago) that I heard jokes using words we don’t use out here to describe African-Americans.
What exactly does this mean Ginny: “But solutions need to recognize the vitality and love of work and even traditional family values that are pushing many of those across the border”
Hispanics have very high illegitimacy and dropout rates. Are these the family values and love of work you are talking about?
Okay, I don’t know anything in a statistically meaningful way so I shouldn’t have said anything. And you are right about the drop-out and illegitimacy rates. The culture has plenty of drawbacks – especially the kind that happen when overwhelmingly young & male. The local Hispanic bars are not very safe.
Nonetheless: When I had my business, I found that the Hispanic guys I hired worked hard, were honest, were chivalric in their treatment of an older woman, though holding their own in finding greater efficiencies. Hispanics have done the cleaning of my house, my business, and the college where I teach – they (and some have turned out to be, not surprisingly, illegals) have done good jobs. All have been better than the average at what they did. (Frankly 2 of the 3 illegitimate pregnancies among my workers were Anglo daughters of college professors; the third was African-American. I can’t however even estimate what percentage of employees were Hispanics or, indeed, any other category.)
I don’t know if this is true elsewhere, but here many Hispanics are entrepreneurs – starting quite small businesses that fix cars, sell Mexican lunches, take over a certain area of home building, upholster chairs, etc. Some have Hispanic foreman who don’t seem to me to work beside their workers as much as I (and most Anglos) would, but entrepreneurs assimilate – otherwise they wouldn’t get any business. You can’t think in terms of entitlement when someone can get a lunch down the street where the service is pleasant. We’re not a big town and I don’t think we have sweat shops (I may be wrong, but certainly not in the quantity Houston or Los Angeles does).
It would be nice if as a group there was a stronger respect for education, more of a sense of duty when it comes to encouraging their children to get through school. (In our school usually most of the top spots in any graduating class are filled by people who speak one language at home and another school – but very seldom is that other language Spanish. Of course, there are exceptions, one of my daughter’s friends’ brother (who she also knew from Montessori) graduated in the top few of his class and is at an Ivy League college today.
As often in other contexts, Michael Barone’s generalizations seem to match my experience. His The New Americans’ argument that the Mexicans are the new Italians fits my experience of both ethnic groups.
And I’ll admit all of this is subjective.
The day shall come, quod absit, that the U.S., with its 300 million citizens, will have its very existence threatened by China with its 3 billion. That days is NOT far in the future. At that time we will need more boots on the ground than we have a hope of mustering.
Only through unlimited immigration can we bulk up fast enough to meet the Chinese threat. But will this “bulking up” harm our economy? No. Unlimited immigration turned Hong Kong into the richest, freeist nation in the world (per-capita) and it will do the same for us unless congress screws it up.
Thanks Ginny. I haven’t read Barone’s book, but I don’t buy the analogy. late 19th and early 20th century immigration was very different from current Mexican migration. Still, he’s right that the issue is about assimilation. We have about 15million illegals in the US (the vast majority Mexican.) That’s 5% of our population. If we can’t find a way to curb the flow over the border (legal or illegal) we’ll have another 15 million by 2016. Throw in their birthrate and we’ll be looking at 10%+ of our population being migrants from the south, with plenty more on the way.
It is one thing to assimilate a heterogeneous immigrant population when their homelands are across the sea and the immigrants themselves know they have no hope of going back (The Euros of yesteryear and the asians of the 20th century.) It’s another thing to assimilate a homogeneous population speaking one language, mostly from a neighboring country, who are able to go back and forth from the moment they arrive.
Throw in the modern mantra of diversity, the Chicano separatist types (like the new LA Mayor), and Mexico’s historical anti-Americanism and we are creating a much bigger problem for ourselves than most realize.
We should be careful not to hyperventilate because assimilation seems slower today than in the past
Our present seems chaotic and slow because we see the ugly day-to-day working of the process. By contrast, we see only the shiny high points of historical assimilations that took many decades to accomplish.
I think the special problem we may face today is the hybridization of low-trust cultures of the undeveloped world with atomization of the developed world. We could end up with a populations of individuals who feel that they have no one whom they can trust. Politically, people who don’t trust others turn to government and create a hyper-bureaucratic government in a desperate attempt to control their fellow citizens. They want a world were everyone is forced to act in a reliable and predictable by the continuos threat of state power.
I am still interested in how you think assimilation is different in Texas then California.
I tend to agree with you that most of the people that come here are ahrd workers and merely trying to make a better life for themselves. They at least have the get up and go to get up and come.
I do, however, notice that we have a very large and involved list of who can come here and it does not seem to factor in (at least for the moment) who has been able to sneak to the front of the line and not get caught for some magic period of time – I also seem to recall hearing some extremely high numbers of outstanding warrants in Los Angles for violent crimes that were for illegals.
Your first point – Maybe, maybe not. I believe assimilation within the mexican migrant population is much slower than previous immigrant generations. There are now first born Americans (usually born to illegals) that aren’t learning English. I don’t think this occured in the past (but I may be wrong.) VDH pointed this out in Mexifornia and I have experienced it first hand. Some of the blame lies with the schools, of course, but ultimately it’s the fault of Mexican parents that don’t put a priority on assimilation.
Your second point – Are the Chinese a low or high-trust culture? The Vietnamese? I thought these were low-trust cultures, but they encourage assimilation of their youth. In my opinion, the biggest danger in current immigration isn’t societal trust, it’s anti-americanism. Mexicans (at least not the class that migrates here) are not pro-USA. They are pro-Mexico and unanimously think the USA got one over with TX/CA and that we are only rich now because illegals do all the work. If you didn’t speak Spanish, you probably wouldn’t experience this first hand, but I assure you it is the case. Combine the mexican anti-americanism with that of the left’s, throw in some “diversity” and we have a political trainwreck in the making.
Andrewdb, there was a disscussion of the tx/ca thing before. I looked in the archives and can’t find it. I think some things got lost when they changed servers. Grrr… It boils down to the fact that Texas has a native hispanic population from before independence with a tejano culture that is very much American. CA, however, got most of it’s population from immigration, especially when labor was scarce in WWII and has always had trouble fitting in (remember the zoot suit riots?)
Well, my roommate in college’s husband was born in America and knew no English when he started at a one-room schoolhouse. The janitor in our building at UT asked my husband (his parents & most of his grandparents were born in America) if he was going to marry an “American.” But cell phones & cheap travel, if nothing else, have affected current immigration.
In answer to AndrewB, I will admit I just don’t know, these are personal observations. My experience may be oblivious (I don’t speak Spanish) and certainly is anecdotal. But, the whole small business aspect plays out in different ways than when you are working for “the man” and Mexican culture is a part of Texan culture.
Of course, the politicization of “differences” and of “aggrieved cultures” is not helpful. When people start preaching to me about the “rights” of people who broke laws to be here, I lose sympathy. Of course, we need to guard the borders, and probably putting up a wall and using drones is going to be necessary. We can’t have completely porous borders when Mexico has major drug running operations on the border.
I also think that if the media had a reasonable perspective, they should point out (both here and there) that immigration of this size comes not because Americans have “taken” from Mexico but because Mexico has an incompetent government. If at some point the most broadly accepted vision of how a nation succeeds is through transparent government, the rule of law, the protection of private property, the open marketplace, etc. and we got rid of the noxious belief that one country grows only at another’s expense, the world would be a better place. As long as our schools, our media, their schools and their media push the zero sum game, we will need to worry more about immigration and they will need to worry less about cleaning up their acts.
That may have been the case for many immigrants in the 20th century, the big difference being that in that one room schoolhouse he learned English. Now many children don’t.
What has changed immigration isn’t cell phones and cheap travel, it’s that the majority of our current “immigrants” are from our neighbor and don’t want to or plan to be American. In the past people were from far away, knew they were coming to stay and knew their kids would be Americans. (I’d even say that for Asians that is still the case.) This isn’t at all the case with people coming from Mexico.
Here are a couple of facts for Gringo and the others:
First, about language. Richard Alba of SUNY at Albany looked at 2000 Census data on language use among the first, second, and third generation of immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere.
Without reproducing his numbers, his conclusions are:
1. The vast majority of first-generation immigrants who come to the US as children speak English well.
2. Bilingualism is common among second-generation children.
3. English-only is the predominant pattern by the third generation. High immigration levels of the 1990s do not appear to have weakened the forces of linguistic assimilation.
this study was widely reported, by the way.
Next, about this supposed crime wave by undocumented immigrants. You may have been thinking about an article by “Jack Dunphy” (pseudonym) in National Review last January 30 which quoted testimony from the Manhattan Institute that most homicide and other serious warrants in Los Angeles were for illegal immigrants. I couldn’t find anything to back up this claim, but it’s plausible since most illegal drugs in this country come through Mexico. In cities close to the border, the drugs are distributed directly by Mexican gangs rather than by local people. But does this mean that Latin American migrants in general, or even illegal migrants, are prone to crime? In the 2000 Census 35 million people said they were Hispanic. Estimates say that 11 million of those are undocumented… nearly all of them working in low wage agricultural, food processing, and service jobs.
If anything, probably a smaller proportion of undocumented aliens commit crimes than legal residents of similar SES and occupation, simply because they have made an effort to be here. These migrants may have more of an oppositional working class culture (which some interpret as “entitlement”) than the Asians who come here as professionals or small business owners, but that has to do with their SES and education not legal status or origins.
The anxiety about “illegals” is misplaced. Deporting illegals is not going to bring back the good manufacturing jobs from overseas, diminish our national debt or trade deficit or unemployment rates or, really, fix any of the other serious problems with which we are faced.
I think the obsessive focus on latin immigration is misplaced too. What does concern me is the non-citizen Muslims and their mosques.
If the gov’t is truely neglicting the latin immigratants let us hope it is because their resources are being used on that group.
Thanks for the link Outraged. I’m glad census takers were so dutiful in evaluating the english speaking abilities of illegal immigrants and their children, the vast majority of which have come only in the last 12 years. Needless to say, I’m skeptical.
January 8th, 2007 at 8:05 pm
“Your second point – Are the Chinese a low or high-trust culture? The Vietnamese? I thought these were low-trust cultures, but they encourage assimilation of their youth. In my opinion, the biggest danger in current immigration isn’t societal trust, it’s anti-americanism. Mexicans (at least not the class that migrates here) are not pro-USA. They are pro-Mexico and unanimously think the USA got one over with TX/CA and that we are only rich now because illegals do all the work. If you didn’t speak Spanish, you probably wouldn’t experience this first hand, but I assure you it is the case. Combine the mexican anti-americanism with that of the left’s, throw in some “diversity” and we have a political trainwreck in the making.”
While it is true there is anti-Americanism in Mexico, it is not generalized to the whole country. In North Mexico the majority of the people do not hold the same anti-American feelings that some people in central Mexico do, although they might hold ignorant or misguided geopolitical views that resemble anti-Americanism, I cannot consider them as essentially anti-Americans.
In mi opinion, Anti-Americanism in Mexico occurs mostly in Mexico City and for reasons other than territorial losses to the USA or even past interventions. One important reason being the fact that thousands of socialist Spaniards opposed to Franco’s regime and persecuted by his government found asylum in Mexico, these Spaniard immigrants were profoundly anti-American, professing a hate towards America, the likes of what we see today in Muslim fundamentalist, because of North American support for Franco and the cold war also.
These Spaniard refugees blended very well into the already Spanish rooted population of Mexico City who saw with anger how the Franco regime committed crimes and abuses in Spain, these refugees had a lot of political influence, they read Marx and Engels, and firmly believed in Communism, then they found jobs in Newspapers, Television, Universities and other institutions of Mexico, including government institutions sometimes (http://mexfiles.wordpress.com/tag/spain/spanish-civil-war/).
Many of them got into movie making and helped create the Mexican movie industry, which reached its splendor in the sixties, a decade and half after their arrival. The Spanish immigration to Mexico did not stop but until the early 70s when Spain became a democracy and their economy begun to grow.
But they brought their hatred towards the United States with them and spread it in Mexico City and of course it found a fertile soiled in leftist movements in the city.
When Pinochet took power, many Chilean intellectuals arrived to Mexico and continued writing from here also, repeating the same process of anti Americanization, although Mexico also suffered from a dictatorial one party regime, it was considered a soft dictatorship, as opposed to the military regimes in Argentina, Chile and other south American countries. We also received many immigrants from Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay, where military dictatorships committed crimes and were, wrongly perhaps, linked to USA interests. All these immigrants came carrying a heavy bag of anti Americanism and normally settled in Mexico City.
Then there was the Cuban revolution, which also inspired many anti American feelings in the region, and Mexicans could not be denied from this important regional events. Castro became a hero in Mexico City and was received as one whenever he visited. The anti American seeds could not have a greater soil to grow.
All of these socialist and anti American influences flourished during the 50s and 60’s and by the 80’s, there were already several communist and socialist political parties and organizations in Mexico City and Central Mexico. They joined and created what today is the PRD.
But in North Mexico, the PAN a center right and catholic party and pro American had been advancing and fighting against the one party dictatorship for decades before the PRD was even created and they had made great democratic gains in Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and several other northern states.
In 2006, PAN won the most seats in Congress and the Senate, with 207 congressmen, followed by PRD with only 126 representatives.
PAN has also won the last two presidential elections, the latest one very tight and controversial.
What this tells you is that Mexico can be hardly described as an anti American society. If only, we can say there are many who are and many other who are not.
Yes it is true that we have some hate spreaders in our society, La Jornada (http://www.jornada.unam.mx) and Proceso (http://www.proceso.com.mx/) are newspapers and magazines profoundly socialist and anti American but they are read in Mexico City, and are far from being the most read newspapers, which in Mexico City are El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com.mx, Reforma, http://www.reforma.com, and Milenio, http://www.milenio.com, the last two newspapers belong to corporations from north Mexico but actually dominate the newspaper industry in all Mexico and the most widely read by Mexicans in general, they are not anti American and tend to be very fair in the way they treat our relationship with the United States.
The problem is many Americans come to Mexico City and get to think it is the same all over the country, but I assure you it is not.
To end my point I would like to add that while there are some Chicano organizations that have repeatedly stated their radical ideas of returning CA/TX to Mexico, these are considered ridiculous in Mexico and have absolutely no ties just like the Black Panters and the Black Nation ideas had no correspondence in Africa, the same occurs with these Chicano radical movements, they originated there and belong to a process of problems of immigrants in adapting to a new country.
Mexicans don’t even talk about those issues. It is history and our history books describe these states as part of the United States of America, holding no ridiculous claim whatsoever upon them.
For the most part, having many relatives in the USA who already proudly consider themselves Americans and having nephews and nieces participating in the armed forces of that great country, I cannot but reject the notion that Mexicans hold on to their national flags and state, but why would they? If my country did not give my brother or sister the opportunity to work and to live in dignity, why would I deny them their right to love and to adhere to great nation that has PROVIDED as our country hasn’t?
Joseangel, thank you for sharing these very informative observations.
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