Samuel Huntington’s Hispanic Challenge

For years, America is considered to be “a melting pot” of nations. People of different nations came and adopted American culture as their native one. Its culture is like a complicated mosaic when every nation has brought some piece and created what is now called American cultural heritage. That is diversity which made American culture become so peculiar and multi-layered. Rapidly growing immigration from Latin America is widely discussed and this point is considered rather controversial.

Samuel Phillips Huntington, being an outstanding political scientist famous for his military and civil government relations analysis, conducted an investigation concerning the influence of growing Hispanic community immigration and possible consequences of this process. He claims that Hispanic immigration poses a considerable threat to the United States’ identity. Samuel Huntington corroborates his thesis with factual information and statistics. He lays out the historical background of the phenomenon and states that in the nineteenth century the ethnic component was broadened and comprised Germans, Scandinavians and Irish which resulted in the US redefinition into Christianity. Then America saw the assimilation of European immigrants, and with them ethnicity and national identity disappeared according to S. Huntington. Now American identity is multiethnic and multiracial. He enumerates Anglo-Protestant cultural elements which include English language, Christianity, etc. The scientist underlines that millions of immigrants were attracted because of economic and political opportunities America offered them. He admits, they contributed and enriched the Anglo-Protestant culture of the United States.

Huntington denounces America’s boasting with assimilating a great number of immigrants into society and culture of the United States. Government concentrated on economic benefit mainly but not on cultural and social consequences. Huntington’s idea of general negative effect of Hispanic immigration is also reflected in the fact that he considers the nature of this immigration process and thinks that it differs from other waves of immigration. He raises the question if in future the USA remains a country with a single national language and culture. “By ignoring this question, Americans acquiesce to their eventual transformation into two peoples with two cultures”¦and two languages”¦” (Huntington). He also blames illegal entering of the state and gives figures of annual immigration flow.

But Huntington’s statements are presently argued about by some modern scientists. He states “bilingual education and the controversies it spawns would disappear”¦” (Huntington) and for the first time in the US history, half of entering America speak a non-English language, it is obviously Spanish. He considers them to be reluctant to assimilate language and culture but they aim to preserve their own culture and encourage language usage on the territory of America.

But contemporary nationwide study’s data contradicts his statements, over the last twelve years the number of unassimilated Hispanics has decreased up to twenty percent. Most Hispanics are bilingual and multicultural, they feel convenient speaking both languages, they got used to live in America and accommodated its general tendencies in everything including the language. What is more, they not only respect the host culture but also bring there the best of their home one. Samuel Huntington also raises the problem of schools where teachers have classes with pupils speaking about twenty different languages, such schools are, for instance, in the Southwest where there is the biggest concentration of Hispanics. That is how people may become “Linguistically isolated”, but according to the latest study, the Hispanics acquire English and lose Spanish starting with the second generation, are as religious as native-born people and express patriotism from the very childhood.

It is also estimated that by the third generation immigrants of Hispanic community become monolingual English speakers. And it is no longer so as Huntington stated that Spanish have fluency in English but English speakers lack it and, hence, are at a grave disadvantage about that, when they have to compete for jobs, etc. It is not so because Hispanics assimilate English very well and this process seems to be quicker than it used to be a decade ago or so.

Huntington priorised demographic diversity and national solidarity but it is already estimated that by the third generation more than 50 percent of Hispanics identify themselves as Americans, and even foreign-born American citizens express patriotism and willingness to join American culture in all its manifestations. Samuel Huntington seems to cause a clash of the two cultures saying that Mexican Americans especially in the Southwest tend to demand recognition of their culture and Mexican identity and threaten American one. He even ensures that “continuation of this large immigration could divide the US into a country of two languages and two cultures” (Huntington). He concludes his judgment by a categorical maxim that “Mexican Americans will share in that (American) dream”¦only if they dream in English” (Huntington). But really even the Anglo-Protestant ethic issue is partly solved as Hispanics usually attend church as frequently as native citizens do. It goes without saying that there is still a debate about immigration influence on American society and immigrants themselves, but the information confirms and convinces that the rise of immigration wave level among Spanish population is not a serious threat and the status of the English language remains privileged.

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