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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Western Christendom v. Islam? Part III

This is the final article of a three part series that is examining the theories of Samuel P. Huntington’s two most recent books - The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order and its sequel Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity

Samuel P. Huntington’s Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity picks up where the final chapter of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order ends. This sequel describes Western Civilization as a society on the threshold of implosion due to the self inflicted wound of multiculturalism and Hispanic bilingualism. He maintains that if America is to survive as the pioneer of human achievement, then it must revive the ideal of its American identity and core culture, and foster this identity/culture on the new wave of immigrants that is flooding the country’s borders. He paints an ominous portrait for the future of this country if this does not happen.

I attended Huntington’s book signing in the Washington area after the publication of Who Are We, and I challenged him on something very disturbing that he wrote in the book. He predicted the response of Americans to the prospect of losing its current national identity, which he defines as a European cultural heritage and by extension, a Western heritage. This heritage, he cautions, should motivate the United States to strengthen its cultural impersonation of Europe instead of divorcing it through a melting pot of international assimilation.

After Huntington discussed his book, and during the question and answer period I expressed my alarm and concern that every book that he has written seems to portray people of color as the villain in society whose freedoms should be curtailed or eliminated altogether. In Who Are We, he gives his analysis and prediction of four possible outcomes regarding the loss of America’s national identity. I read to him and the audience the outcome that he seems to suggest in the book is the most likely to occur:

[T]he various forces challenging the core American culture and Creed could generate a move by native white Americans to revive the discarded and discredited racial and ethnic concepts of American identity and to create an America that would exclude, expel, or suppress people of other racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. Historical and contemporary experience suggest that this is a highly probably reaction from a once dominant ethnic-racial group that feels threatened by the rise of other groups. It could produce a racially intolerant country with high levels of intergroup conflict (Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2004, p. 20 – emphasis mine).

I asked Huntington, after reading the above passage, if he actually believed that native, white Americans would revive old forms of racism and embark upon a new social structure that would “exclude, expel or suppress people of other racial, ethnic and cultural groups? He claimed that he really did not hold much faith in that outcome. His response is a vivid example of hypocrisy and a dramatic demonstration of how simple it is to perjure oneself when your back is against the wall. Huntington had no clue as to my motivation for extracting one of the more controversial components of his book; consequently, his response appeared to be more of an effort to divert attention away from this ugly passage.

If David Duke or some other avowed racist said the things that Samuel P. Huntington promotes, he would be castigated and his views discredited. However, Huntington has been able to peddle his less than favorable view of people of color since the 1950s, and he does it without the notoriety and scrutiny that they merit. As controversial as his books are, they are rarely discussed within the black community. This is significant, because Huntington is not a right wing zealot, spewing a message of hate from the margins of society. He is a respected Harvard professor whose views on race have been cleverly insulated within a social theory of European excellence, and this theory has currency within the conservative, white community.

One of the oldest forms of politics known to humans is “scapegoat” politics. It is the classical effort to gain the support of one group of people by demonstrating to them that their social ills are the result of another group of people. This propaganda usually fuels aggression towards the “scapegoat.” Adolf Hitler did a masterful job in Germany, with his brand of scapegoating, which lead to the Holocaust. The South African government practiced this social system during its Apartheid regimes and Communist countries thrive on “scapegoat” politics.

Propaganda is a particularly useful tool for scapegoating during times of social stress. Of course, Hitler seized the opportunity to turn the Jews into the German scapegoat by claiming that the Jewish bankers were the cause of the hyper inflation that placed the country on the threshold of financial ruins. He also declared that the high “German” unemployment rate was because the Jews were holding the best jobs. This Third Reich propaganda implied that if the Germans could remove the Jews, then that would solve the financial and employment crises. Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor on January 30, 1933 and before the end of the decade, his propaganda machine convinced the German population to participate in the annihilation of 6 million Jews.

America is now showing classical signs of a society prime to begin its own version of scapegoating: financial instability; high unemployment in entire segments of the workforce; and the degradation of the state of mind of the nation’s youth. In fact, I suggest to you that the scapegoating has already begun. Not only does Huntington’s books play the blame game for what he sees as the erosion of European values in America, but Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, has written The West’s Last Chance, Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations, Alvin Schmidt, professor of sociology at Southern Wesleyan University, has written The Menace of Multiculturalism, and conservative commentator, Patrick Buchanan has written The Death of the West, How Dying Populations and Immigration Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization, to name a few books that seem to blame people of color for the ills of Western society.

In the famous words of Rodney King – “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Well, there is a cadre of influential thinkers who cannot imagine that “we all just get along.” In reality, America has never been able to “just get along.” If race wasn’t the demarcation, then it was age. When it wasn’t age, then it became class; and when class warfare ended, it became race again. Huntington’s message resonates deep into the fabric of American culture and if he had his way, he would “create an America that would exclude, expel, or suppress people of other racial, ethnic, and cultural groups,” in order to rescue the country from the “patriotic treason” of other ethnic groups.

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