Original URL: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/metro/15474.php
Harvard prof takes a shot at Mexicans
Arizona Daily Star
March 27, 2004
Ernesto Portillo Jr.
Mexican bashing is in vogue. Why else would the scholarly journal Foreign Policy
engage in the sport? In its current edition, Foreign Policy has dedicated its
cover to the most pressing threat to the United States.
It's not Osama bin Laden, global warming, poverty or the national debt.
It's Mexican immigrants, their children and their children's children.
Anglo-Protestant America is under assault by Mexicans whose allegiance is tilted
south, according to Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington.
I have a problem with his thesis.
Laden with out-of-context statistics and cherry-picked anecdotal evidence,
Huntington dishes up a mean-spirited attack that would delight the Ku Klux Klan.
"Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated
into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic
enclaves - from Los Angeles to Miami - and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values
that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its
peril," wrote Huntington, chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and
Area Studies and co-founder of Foreign Policy.
The xenophobic ramblings that have dominated talk radio and fringe Internet
sites have slithered upward into the high echelon of academia. The danger is
that views like Huntington's will filter down into the mainstream.
Fair-skinned, English-speaking Protestant America historically has been known to
demonize dark-skinned, non-English speaking, non-Protestant Americans.
Huntington's academic predecessors uttered similar fears when Italians and Jews
immigrated in large waves to this country. Even English-speaking Irish Catholics
were considered a threat in the 19th century.
Anna Ochoa O'Leary, an adjunct lecturer with the Mexican American Studies and
Research Center at the University of Arizona, found Huntington's article
"It looks like the same xenophobia is now dancing to the tune of an increasing
conservative element in an effort to foment paranoia," she said.
"The danger is that it signals an end to academic free-thinking among one of our
nation's most prestigious institutions of higher learning when xenophobic
opinion replaces historical research."
Despite what Huntington proffers, Mexicans and other Latinos have built and
continue to build on the strengths of previous immigrant groups. They are
professors, university presidents, generals, doctors, workers, teachers and
writers. They are dead soldiers in Iraq or Vietnam, on the barren hills of Korea
or under white crosses in France.
But Huntington dares not acknowledge the blood and sweat of Mexican immigrants.
If he did, he'd have nothing to talk about.
To buttress his twisted view, he offers anecdotal evidence.
Mexican soccer fans cheer the Mexican national team and boo the American team.
Mexican youths protesting immigrant-bashing legislation fly the Mexican flag.
Spanish-language radio has more listeners than English-language radio. And his
prize point: "In 1998, 'JosÚ' replaced 'Michael' as the most popular name for
newborn boys in both California and Texas," he wrote.
Huntington insists that Mexican immigrants and their offspring do not identify
with the United States.
But they do, so much so that - to choose one example - the children of Mexican
immigrants are mainly English speakers and the third generation all but loses
its Spanish skills.
All these generations identify with an America that offers equality, opportunity
They just don't identify with Huntington's image of America.
░ Ernesto Portillo Jr.'s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Reach
him at 573-4242 or at email@example.com.