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The topic of
immigration continues to be the center of discussion in the United States
because of some Americans continuous fear of its threat to American culture.
This has led to many anti-immigration policies that have targeted Hispanic
immigrants, in particular, due to the cultural and political threat they pose
by not assimilating into mainstream white American culture. Some have argued
that Mexican and Latino immigrants threaten to divide the United States into
two languages, two peoples, and two cultures, which would ultimately generate
another nation. Some Americans go as far to believe that the American dream is
based on an Anglo-Protestant culture that integrates the English language and
religious commitment. However, it could easily be argued that it is wrong to
claim that Anglo-Protestant culture is the core of American national identity
for the mere fact that American society is continuously evolving. Today, there
is opportunity to embrace multiculturalism in an effort to encourage diversity
and assimilation. The melting pot helps Americans believe that patriotism is
complementary rather than a rivalry of identities. Therefore, it is important
to examine what it means to adopt the American way of life, especially when
suggesting that it means to adhere to the Anglo-Protestant culture in order to
identify oneself as a patriotic American. As a result of such a controversial
issue, this essay will examine Samuel P. Huntington’s views on Hispanic
immigration, their impact on American cultural values, and the support and
criticism it has generated based on Huntington’s work.

            According
to former conservative political scientist and professor at Harvard University,
Samuel P. Huntington argued that Hispanic immigrants would eventually clash
with native born Americans due to cultural differences that would generate a
“MexAmerica.” In his text, “The Hispanic Challenge” (2004), he emphasized how
the American dream consists of all Americans conforming to an Anglo-Protestant
society that only speaks English, has one culture, and one religion. This sort
of creed has become the basis and most essential component of U.S. identity;
however, not everyone would agree. Huntington states, “Most Americans see the
creed as the crucial element of their national identity. The creed, however,
was the product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding
settlers. Key elements of that culture include the English language;
Christianity; religious commitment…” (Huntington, p. 32) and other elements
that would result to a sort of “heaven on earth.” It was basically Huntington’s
belief that if immigrants decided to enter this country, then they would have
to conform to these rules to make sure America kept their white legacy. The
issue that he found, however, was that Mexican and Latino immigrants posed a
threat as he asked, “Will the United States remain a country with a single
national language and a core Anglo-Protestant culture?” (Huntington, p. 32).
His fear was basically that the United States would soon be taken of their
Anglo-Protestant culture and instead become a bifurcated nation with two
peoples and two cultures of Anglos and Hispanics, and two languages of English
and Spanish. This is why he has made an effort to provoke white nationalism as
he stated that it is “the next logical stage for identity politics in America…”
(Huntington, p. 41). Essentially, he and other critics of immigration believe
that there will soon be a rise of white nationalists who will attempt to put an
end to cultural and linguistic threats to their country in order to
prevent the expanding power of Hispanics and the creation of MexAmerica.
Unfortunately, this can be seen in politics today.

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On June 16, 2015,
presidential candidate, Donald Trump caused a lot of controversy during his
presidential announcement. Standing in his hotel at Central Park West, he made
immigration restriction one of the main issues of his campaign. It was here
that Trump stated that Mexico was “sending people that have a lot of problems,
and they’re bringing those problems with us (sic). They’re bringing drugs.
They’re bringing crime, they’re rapists…” (Scribner, p. 263). Ultimately, it
was speeches like this that got him elected as the president of the United
States. According to Todd Scribner’s article, “You are Not Welcome Here
Anymore: Restoring Support for Refugee Resettlement in the Age of Trump”
(2017), he examined how Huntington popularized culture as the main clash of
civilizations rather than ideology, which can be seen throughout the Trump
administration. Scribner states, “One of the former key advisors to Trump
was Stephen Bannon, the former executive chairman at Breitbart News.
In his daily radio show, Bannon often used rhetoric that reinforced the Clash
of Civilizations paradigm, particularly as it pertained to the incompatibility
between the Western and Islamic worlds” (Scribner, p. 272). As a white
nationalist, Bannon claimed that Muslim refugees were a threat to the
Judeo-Christian West and often emphasized how the existing Judeo-Christian
culture was important for Western life. While this example does not target
Hispanic immigrants, it does exemplify how political figures in today’s society
also follow Huntington’s ideals when strongly believing that the U.S. bases its
values on Anglocentric culture.

Scribner
continues by emphasizing how Americans, especially white Christian Republicans,
voted for Trump because he took advantage of their fear of migrant populations.
He states, “As important as national security, the perceived cultural threat
that immigrants pose as a second factor in Trump’s appeal; it is a threat that
extends to…migrant populations. Nearly six in 10 Trump supporters and 51
percent of Republicans overall, reported the opinion that immigrants were
changing American society ‘a lot’ and of those who shared this belief, 74
percent say it has been for the worse…” (Scribner, p. 276). Not only that, but
a majority of white Americans have also stated that they felt some sort of
discomfort around immigrants that did not speak English. Essentially, “Many
white evangelicals and conservative Republicans have a precarious sense of
place in American culture. Alongside the perceived onslaught of secularism and
changing morals, the influx of immigrants is yet another blow to their
longstanding preeminence in defining American cultural standards” (Scribner, p.
276). Overall, it appears that Huntington is outdated in his efforts to
maintain an Anglo-Protestant culture because there is evidence that indicates
the end of white Christian America because of the amount of foreign influence
that has been brought by the influx of migrants who have settled in the U.S.
and have already formed their own cultural setting. Although, it is clear that
there has been a shift in white nationalists in today’s politics.

            Huntington
claimed in his work that there would soon be a rise in white nationalists in
America in an effort to preserve their race, since “culture is a product of
race” (Huntington, p. 41). While this sounds completely racist and encouraging
words to those that advocate white racial supremacy, Huntington insists that
they are not. However, those words may actually be doing just that as Henry A.
Giroux explains in his article, “White Nationalism, Armed Culture and State
Violence in the Age of Donald Trump” (2017) that the election of Trump has
actually provoked a culture of war created by the forces of white supremacy. He
states, “…white supremacy and militarization have been unleashed in a
series of policies designed to return the United States to a history in which
the public sphere was largely white and Christian…” (Giroux, p.887).
Essentially, he is making aware that there has been a normalization of racial
hatred ever since Trump’s election. While Trump and his administration may not
have consciously embraced Huntington’s ideology, they have and continue to
replicate some of Huntington’s work. Giroux points out that Jeff Sessions and
Trump both see immigration as an “internal threat” and, therefore, intend to
issue orders that “strengthen the grip of law enforcement, raise barriers to
voting and significantly reduce all forms of immigration, promoting what seems
to be a longstanding desire to reassert the country’s European and Christian
heritage” (Giroux, p. 893). Giroux argues that this advocates white
nationalists and white supremacy as Trump and his administration appear to
embrace the values of an “ultra-nationalist and militarized white public
sphere” (p. 894). Therefore, it appears that Huntington’s theory of white
nationalists coming to a rise is possible since this country’s own president
also continues to see immigration as a threat; however, there are other
resistant Americans that believe in embracing unity as they view it as true
democracy. Therefore, while there is an effort being made by white nationalists
to preserve their Anglocentric and Anglo-Protestant heritage, there are others
that believe in preserving justice and democracy for all.  

When examining
Huntington further, it is clear to many of his critics that his work is a
tactic for creating a generalized fear of “the other.” Not only that, but his
work has also exemplified racism and ignorance. For example, according to
sociologist, David Montejano’s article, “Who is Samuel P. Huntington? Patriotic
Reading for Anglo Protestants Who Live in Fear of the Reconquista” (2004),
rightfully attacks Huntington for claiming that the United States is not meant
to be made up of bilingualism, biculturalism, or an “Americano dream.” He
suggests that the only way to live according to the American dream is for
Mexicans to dream in English. Montejano states, “Huntington seems unaware that
transnationalism, bilingualism, biculturalism, and a concentrated Mexican
presence have been facts of border life since the region was annexed more than
150 years ago…Nonetheless, the readily available evidence demonstrates that
‘Mexican Americans not born in Mexico’ speak English fluently, intermarry
frequently, are often economically successful, and loyally fight in America’s
wars” (Montejano, p. 4). Essentially, this is why critics believe that
Huntington’s work was used as an attempt to rationalize racist and nativist
views against Hispanic immigrants.

Not only that,
but according to the article, “Are Mexicans in the United States a Threat to
the American Way of Life?” (2007), Rogelio Saenz, Janie Filoteo, and Aurelia
Lorena Murga further criticize Huntington’s views as they state, “…in order
to make his arguments more plausible, he magnifies the Anglo-Protestant roots
of American culture; caricatures the relationship between culture and society;
sentimentalizes and trivializes past immigrant assimilation…and exaggerates
several challenges to assimilation in the twenty-first century…” (Saenz, et
al., p. 380). Basically, Huntington has claimed that there are substantial
anti-American intellectuals within the American nation and, therefore, has
encouraged his defenders to believe that Hispanic immigrants do not like the
America they come to and result in changing it in an effort to fit their
dreams. Yet, most of his defenders do not look for any further research and
have fallen victim to believing and sharing false information, such as
believing that “…70% of ‘illegals are Mexican'” (Saenz, et al., p. 379), which
is not true. For reasons like this, his critics believe that his theories are
plain xenophobic, racist nonsense.

Another issue
that has created criticism is Huntington’s image of what a Mexican or Latino
looks like. Throughout his text, he provides images of Hispanics not based on
telenovelas, but Mexicans that are of darker skin color, mostly women, and have
children. These images have been purposely used in an effort to prove that
Mexican and Latino immigrants are coming into the U.S. with no future plans of
stopping. He is very resistant to the idea of the melting pot and accepting
America’s identity as a nation of immigrants. According to Saenz, Filoteo, and
Murga, they further criticize Huntington for generating fears of the “browning
of America” and diverting away from white America. Huntington makes no space
for the melting pot model of multiculturalism, but rather emphasizes on
maintaining the Anglocentric image of those that settled the country. According
to James H. Johnson Jr., Walter C. Farrell Jr., and Chandra Guinn’s article,
“Immigration Reform and the Browning of America: Tensions, Conflicts and Community
Instability in Metropolitan Los Angeles,” (1997), explain how the influx of
immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean
have naturally resulted in a browning of America. They explain, “…changes in
the origin, size and composition of the U.S. immigrant population have
contributed to what some characterized as the ‘browning of America,’ a rather
dramatic change in the racial complexion and cultural orientations of the
American population” (Johnson Jr., et al., np). Therefore, this is proof that
the U.S. culture is changing whether Huntington wants it to or not. It may be
true that at one point in American history that Anglo-Protestant culture was
the norm; however, we are now living in a melting pot made up of different migrants.
Huntington said it himself when he explained that Hispanics are expanding their
power throughout U.S. society. This is why it is outdated to promote white
nationalism in an America that is continuously diverting away from
Anglo-Protestant culture.

With that being
said, when examining what Hispanics thought about assimilating into mainstream
American society, Jack Citrin, Amy Lerman, Michael Murakami and Kathryn
Pearson’s article, “Testing Huntington: Is Hispanic Immigration a Threat to
American Identity?” (2007), explain how they actually do assimilate into
American culture through time. For example, while it has been proven that
Hispanic immigrants eventually learn English, they still continue to speak
Spanish, especially in areas bordering Mexico. However, even this is
problematic in the eyes of Huntington as he still sees this as undermining
American culture and political unity. However, they explain how according to
the 2000 Census, there is “…large-scale immigration in a geographically concentrated
area that has not slowed the rate of linguistic assimilation among those of
Mexican ancestry. Mexican immigrants may know less English than newcomers from
other countries when they arrive in the United States, but…their rate of
linguistic assimilation is on par with or greater than those of other
contemporary immigrant groups” (Citrin, et al., p. 35). Basically, the census
data has proven that Hispanic immigrants have integrated into the American
mainstream as they have generally lost their fluency in Spanish due to being
geographically dispersed and creating newer generations of children that grow
up speaking English.

Having said that,
the article indicates that Hispanics are just as proud to be American as whites
are especially the offspring of recent immigrants. The article states, “…the
psychological incorporation of immigrants is ongoing. Native-born Hispanics
express the same level of attachment to the United States as whites and the
patriotic outlook of naturalized Hispanics in the Los Angeles samples is
similar to that of those born in the United States” (Citrin, et al., p. 42).
Examples such as this discredit Huntington as a majority of his argument states
that Hispanic immigrants make no effort to assimilate into American culture when
there is actually evidence of them trying. He
insists that institutionalizing diversity will wear down patriotism and be the
reason for the nation to clash. However, he and those that share his fear of the nation
clashing between Hispanic immigrants and native born Americans should come to
the understanding that most Americans believe in sharing a common culture that
“evolves as newcomers add elements of their cultural heritage to the American
way of life” (Citrin, et al., p. 43). This sort of multicultural melting pot is
what helps Americans believe that patriotism is interdependent rather than a
competition of identities. Rather, cultural assimilation and cultural pluralism
would assist different racial and ethnic groups to blend into the larger
society in an effort to maintain their distinct cultures while also embracing a
“melting pot of cultures” (Citrin, et al., p. 43). 

To conclude,
defining the American dream in contemporary society is drastically different
than in the past. In the past, the American dream was based on Americans
abiding to an Anglo-Protestant culture that valued English and Christianity.
However, today’s society is continuously diverting away from those old values
as immigrants continue to settle in the United States, especially Mexican and
Latino immigrants. Huntington, political leaders, white nationalists, and
others that are like-minded fear the melting pot and multiculturalism because
it threatens to clash with white America. They fear that this clash will
generate a MexAmerica and an “Americano dream” that would encourage
bilingualism and biculturalism. There have even been efforts made by white
nationalists to preserve their heritage by normalizing racial hatred, which can
be seen in today’s politics as well. Current political figures like the
president of the United States, Donald Trump have targeted Hispanic immigrants
by labeling them as an “internal threat” that needs to be controlled. These
manipulative depictions of immigration have created further division within
this country as there are still those that support the Anglo-Protestant culture
and those that do not. Critics of Huntington have provided evidence to suggest
that there is not much to fear as Hispanic immigrants are making an effort to
assimilate into American culture; however, multiculturalism is continuously
proving to be the new definition of America’s identity. Therefore, it does not
seem appropriate or truthful for Huntington to claim that Mexican and Latino
immigrants have not made an effort to integrate into the United States. Rather,
it only seems appropriate to embrace multiculturalism as it helps encourage a
future of diversity, assimilation, and pluralism.

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