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More clash from the right.
April 19, 2004 3:02 AM   Subscribe

More clash from the right. Political Scientist Samuel Huntington has gone domestic with his “Clash of Civilizations” (previous MeFi links here and here). In his new article, “The Hispanic Challenge” (soon to be a book entitled “Who Are We”), he highlights the threat hispanics pose to what he has decided is "the Anglo-Protestant culture of America."
posted by AwkwardPause (165 comments total)

 
I am fascinated by the way he talks about biligualism as if it were a bad thing, and not something that university students spend a lot of time and effort to achieve.
posted by jb at 3:43 AM on April 19, 2004


This guy's an idiot.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:27 AM on April 19, 2004


Every time a new group of immigrant shows up in large numbers, everybody panics and says "Oh shit they're forming their own enclave and they're not assimilating and they're gonna threaten American culture 'cuz they're BREEDING LIKE RABBITS." And then those kids of theirs go to public schools and hang out with all the other American kids and grow up American and 20 or 30 years later they're being told by some new idiot about the next group of people who're gonna threaten American culture.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:34 AM on April 19, 2004


I lived through the years when the wave of Hispanic population growth rolled over Athens, GA. Like the waves of fireant and coyote range increase before this (and the armadillo wave, soon to come), it created some need to adapt, but nothing radical. Actually I quite welcome our new Hispanic neighbors: machismo, religion and much better soccer than we had, all of which are congenial to me. (I like the coyotes and the 'dillos, too. Could do without the fireants.)
posted by jfuller at 5:18 AM on April 19, 2004


Nobody wants to wake up to find a Catholic living next door.

posted by lilburne at 5:21 AM on April 19, 2004



posted by ehintz at 5:25 AM on April 19, 2004


It's hard to deal with people with these sorts of ideas, isn't it? Fundamentally wrong at a paradigmatic level. The selfishness and hypocracy is obvious, of course: in the case of the US: who swept of the country, breeding like rabbits and replacing Native American tongues with English?

But the ideology goes much deeper than that, and brings up the question, what is America (Or Australia, Germany, choose your xenophobic nation as required) if not a sum product of the people who happen to live there? If more Hispanic people move to the US...well..the US becomes more Hispanic, doesn't it! It's certainly the better for having become more African, more Irish, more Jewish, more Italian, more Korean.

Anyone seeking to retain some kind of historic racial profile in a country is, quite frankly, a racist, and lacks an understand of what defines a nation: its citizens, whoever they are.
posted by Jimbob at 5:28 AM on April 19, 2004


Idiot.

As for hispanics not assimilating, that's crap. It always takes time for new minority groups to integrate into a new society. Look at the Italians, or the Irish.
posted by unreason at 5:45 AM on April 19, 2004


I knew I should have posted this earlier - AP, you beat me to it. I especially appreciated the rebuttal in the Washington Post by columnist Peter Carlson.
posted by grateful at 5:46 AM on April 19, 2004


In this new era, the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American natives.

Whoa. What the...?

Isn't this always the line of attack with xenophobic ideals? To support your premise of a perceived threat, just say that they're reproducing like fruit flies. They're taking your jobs and they're making more just like them everyday! There's a master's thesis to be written here, documenting the use of rumoured fecundity to support racism and bigotry.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:51 AM on April 19, 2004


OK, so honestly now, not to interrupt, but how many of you read only the first paragraph of the article, and how many of you read all twelve pages?
posted by loquax at 5:56 AM on April 19, 2004


NYT's David Brooks also has a good op-ed on the issue called "The Americano Dream".
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:57 AM on April 19, 2004


OK, so honestly now, not to interrupt, but how many of you read only the first paragraph of the article, and how many of you read all twelve pages?

No need to do that now there's a pile-on.
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:06 AM on April 19, 2004


Huntington's foul emission is of a piece - or odor - with those who champion the famous "Western Canon", the body of cultural work which has been held up a standard which should form the backbone of American liberal arts curricula.

The dirty little secret of this is that many who push the "Canon" are thinly veiled bigots, racists, and xenophobes.
posted by troutfishing at 6:11 AM on April 19, 2004



Hello. My name is Sammy. I'm a racist with tenure.

Cheap shot. I know.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:19 AM on April 19, 2004


samuel huntington has a tendency to throw things out there that really upset people. take for example his thesis that the rapid spread of literacy in India would be a bad thing because their society/economy could in no way absorb a rapid influx of 'intelligent workers' and that would lead to social instability and stratification.
posted by tgrundke at 6:21 AM on April 19, 2004


The Hispanic population tends to prep the "scary" ghetto for gentrification by whitey. I noticed this all over NYC.

Considering the lengths some of these people are willing to go to get into this country, and the shit they're willing to put up with until they get citizenship (jobs that pay crap wages, overcrowded conditions in overpriced apartments, discrimination of various degrees, etc.) I think some folks should drink a tall glass of shut the hell up and accept that Hispanic is the new white.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:29 AM on April 19, 2004


The dirty little secret of this is that many who push the "Canon" are thinly veiled bigots, racists, and xenophobes.

Um . . . Racism has nothing to do with the idea of the canon. The canon is about influence, and is built out of a series of books which have influenced other books. It's not that 'non-canonical' books aren't great -- it's that they aren't the touchstones for yet more great books. Eliot read Yeats, Yeats read Pater, Pater read Arnold, Arnold read Milton, Milton read "Piers Plowman." Thus, the canon.

I haven't read the article yet -- just standin' up for that one. I did read a big newspaper article about Huntington's book, and it sounded -- not dumb, but off target, sort of a rehash of a lot of Cold War-era thinking. People can say what they want about immigration, but identifying it as a 'threat' seems silly. As always, what poor immigrants need are lots of education and opportunity.
posted by josh at 6:31 AM on April 19, 2004


Huntington's foul emission is of a piece - or odor - with those who champion the famous "Western Canon", the body of cultural work which has been held up a standard which should form the backbone of American liberal arts curricula.

The dirty little secret of this is that many who push the "Canon" are thinly veiled bigots, racists, and xenophobes.


WTF? When did this become about reading Plato?

I, for one, place great value on the Western Canon and do believe it should it be the backbone of a liberal arts education in a Western Society.

If you wish to imply I am also a bigot because I think that students in a Western society should have a solid foundation in Western thought you are free to do so. I can say this because I have read J.S. Mill.
posted by srboisvert at 6:40 AM on April 19, 2004


I think some folks should drink a tall glass of shut the hell up and accept that Hispanic is the new white.

True enough, as anybody who's lived in a city with a large hispanic population could tell you. Two or three generations ago Italian, Jewish, and Greek-Americans seemed equally exotic to people like this guy, and the same kinds of accusations were leveled. Decades later the aforementioned groups are an integral part of American culture. The same thing will, and is happening with Hispanics. 25 years from now, a having a suburbanite neighbor named Diego Perez will seem about as exotic as a slice of wonder bread.

The Hispanic population tends to prep the "scary" ghetto for gentrification by whitey.

Coversely, white people saying "whitey" is annoying posturing. Just who are you trying to impress? "Look, swarthy person, I hate whitey, too!"

If you wish to imply I am also a bigot because I think that students in a Western society should have a solid foundation in Western thought you are free to do so. I can say this because I have read J.S. Mill.

True. And I say this as someone who has read almost none of the Western Canon. But even to those who think the Western Canon is full of shit, you'd have to read it and have familiarity with it to pick it apart, right?
posted by jonmc at 6:44 AM on April 19, 2004


What amazes me about "Hispanic panic" is how utterly without evidence it all is.

Affirmative action and PC has created a little bit more a market for MALDEF / National Council of La Raza race-pimping, but that's really all just so much blather. Assimilation is a completely market-regulated phenomenon. Those who fail to assimilate condemn themselves to poverty, so we can count on smart people to assimilate as fast as they can. Anyone who suggests that Hispanics won't assimilate is basically saying they're stupid, and that's hardly a progressive sentiment.

The fact that Hispanics are becoming majorities in places is actually a good thing from the standpoint of politics -- majorities are acountable for themselves, and can't (credibly) play the blame game.

I'm also amused by the complaints that we're getting the "wrong" kind of Latinos immigrating, i.e., the poorer, shorter, darker kind, not your Zona Rosa Iberian stock. Recent Asian immigration, to be sure, has mainly featured people who were the best educated and high social class at home, but your typical white person in this country is descended from peasantry who were at the very bottom of the economic and social barrell back home. Indeed, the unescapability of their lot in the Old World was what brought them hear in the first place, not at all unlike what brings Oaxacans hear by the villageful.

(Your typical Italian American's great grandfather's skin tone was probably closer to Oaxan than that of your typical Milanese banker...)
posted by MattD at 6:45 AM on April 19, 2004


and I also have to add: anyone who plans to collect Social Security and have Medicare pay his doctors ought to be giving a big ole kiss to the 5'2" Mayan teenager pouring his morning coffee -- that guy will have 3 kids before 25 and HIS kids will have 2 kids before 30. There's no hope for our federal retirement schemes if they're to rely families who have one kid at 33 and (maybe) another at 36.
posted by MattD at 6:52 AM on April 19, 2004


This Huntington piece is old-news, speaking blogospherically.

Its unfortunate that assimilation is assumed a priori to be the magic solvent, with nothing more need be said.

There is nothing written in the river that says when two people meet, this will assimilate to that. a) Under some conditions A will assimilate to B. b) Under some others B will assimilate to A. c) Under some A and B will fuse into a separate new identity. d) And under yet others A and B will be mutually separate identities under ethno-political resource competition. Sometimes this final arrangement is completely balanced and stable [switzerland], sometimes its relatively stable but tense [see white and black Americans], many other times its unstable with threats such as war, separatism, political instability constantly looming and erupting. [Balkans, Africa, Middle-East, South-East Asia. Too many examples.]

Given that B and C are possible outcomes and would have economic and political consequences in a possibly undesirable direction, and given that D is also possible and (I would say) extremely undesirable, I think its best to consider this as a worthwhile topic of concern.

Xenophobia might be a legitimate topic of concern, but it is not the only topic of concern. Let's figure out when a, b, c, and d will be the most probable outcomes. Let's proceed wisely on that information. I dislike the religious certainty on this issue, and this circle-of-shame for anyone who questions it.

On preview: Those who fail to assimilate condemn themselves to poverty, so we can count on smart people to assimilate as fast as they can. Anyone who suggests that Hispanics won't assimilate is basically saying they're stupid, and that's hardly a progressive sentiment.

So are you saying that African-Americans a) have economically assimilated? b) are "stupid"? c) kept down by a racist society?

If 'a' then you're wrong, and your point has problems. If 'c' than that also contradicts the assimilation paradigm (if the dark "other" is kept from assimilating anyway) and there really are problems on the horizon.
posted by dgaicun at 7:00 AM on April 19, 2004


the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American natives

Although it's not really fertility rates but birth rates. Catholics are against abortion, some even against all forms of contraception (depending on the sliding scale of devoutness). With secular cultures experiencing very low birth rates, it's not hard to see some big changes in the future in terms of demographics. The future doesn't look very secular to me.
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:04 AM on April 19, 2004


So are you saying that African-Americans a) have economically assimilated? b) are "stupid"? c) kept down by a racist society?

Well, anyone with an elementary grasp of history can tell you that the case of African-Americans is different from that of Hispanic immigrants since they did not immigrate here voluntarily. It'd be interesting to see statistics on the relative economic successes of African-American's as opposed to West Indian immigrants, just because the West Indians arrived (in the US at least) voluntarily.
posted by jonmc at 7:12 AM on April 19, 2004


The "Hispanic" people were here first. They are the blood line of the original peoples that Europeans, etc. stole the land from.
posted by nofundy at 7:12 AM on April 19, 2004


The Chinese build communities also.

Oh, but wait, they are so smart. . .

Send the apple pickers back to Guatemala!
posted by the fire you left me at 8:54 AM on April 19, 2004


As ridiculous as the very concept of "Laz Raza" is, I'm hardly cowering in fear of this newest, best "peril"

I did read Huntington's entire piece. It didn't get any better, and crams in an eye-popping numbing of questionable historical assertions and derogatory stereotypes into a compact package - all the more so for the fact that about five of his eight pages of argument are mere presentations of facts and statistics that are not argument per se. In fact, Huntington's actual case can be compressed into a few, nasty pages.

On your above comment - would you disagree that American Would you call second and third generation American catholics "secular" ? - Catholic fertility rate have dropped dramatically since the first big waves of Catholic immigration to the US. Why would Hispanic Catholics not conform to that historical pattern - unless they are, of course, "lazy and ignorant" ?

Along the same sorts of lines, I'd second MattD's comment : "Those who fail to assimilate condemn themselves to poverty, so we can count on smart people to assimilate as fast as they can. Anyone who suggests that Hispanics won't assimilate is basically saying they're stupid, and that's hardly a progressive sentiment." - Amen.


Huntington must truly, to second techgnollogic, be an idiot. Or else he is in the pay of the captains of the "Hispanic Conspiracy" who have paid him to discredit opposition to Hispanic immigration to the US - by tarring that opposition with the brush of xenophobia, bigotry, and racism.

The issues Huntington raises were once worth discussion, but no more! - now, few will touch this controversy with a ten foot Teflon-coated pole, clad in a HazMat suit, wearing rubber gloves and armed with sterilizing sprays and buckets of alcohol based disinfectant solution and tied to a lighting rod for good grounding...

"....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 [ 1 ] rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril. .......[ 2 ] America was created by 17th- and 18th-century settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British, and Protestant.......With World War II and the assimilation of large numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants and their offspring into U.S. society, [ 3 ] ethnicity virtually disappeared as a defining component of national identity. [ 4 ] So did race, following the achievements of the civil rights movement and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. [ 5 ] Americans now see and endorse their country as multiethnic and multiracial ( questionable assertions numbered above, within brackets. On 3 - I suppose, then, that Huntington has no Jewish friends whatsoever. )

".....If the second generation does not reject Spanish outright, the third generation is also likely to be bilingual, and fluency in both languages is likely to become institutionalized in the Mexican-American community. " - And this is a bad thing, according to Huntington.

"It is quite different to argue that Americans should know a non-English language in order to communicate with their fellow citizens. Yet that is what the Spanish-language advocates have in mind. Strengthened by the growth of Hispanic numbers and influence, Hispanic leaders are actively seeking to transform the United States into a bilingual society. “English is not enough,” argues Osvaldo Soto, president of the Spanish American League Against Discrimination." - Ah, the "Hispanic Conspiracy"! - Is this like the threat of communism, almost ?

"If the spread of Spanish as the United States' second language continues, it could, in due course, have significant consequences in politics and government." - Huntington needs to make a more persuasive case that this will be a bad thing, beyond merely the limp whine of his observation that "English speakers lacking fluency in Spanish are likely to be and feel at a disadvantage in the competition for jobs, promotions, and contracts. "

"The Cuban and Hispanic dominance of Miami left Anglos (as well as blacks) as outside minorities.....the Anglos came to realize, as one of them put it, “My God, this is what it's like to be the minority.” The Anglos had three choices. They could accept their subordinate and outsider position. They could attempt to adopt the manners, customs, and language of the Hispanics....Or they could leave Miami" - I'll leave this for someone else to comment on.

"Sosa identifies several Hispanic traits (very different from Anglo-Protestant ones) that “hold us Latinos back”: mistrust of people outside the family; lack of initiative, self-reliance, and ambition; little use for education; and acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entrance into heaven. Author Robert Kaplan quotes Alex Villa, a third-generation Mexican American in Tucson, Arizona, as saying that he knows almost no one in the Mexican community of South Tucson who believes in “education and hard work” as the way to material prosperity and is thus willing to “buy into America.” " - Underlying assertion : Hispanics are lazy and ignorant.

Huntington has managed, I suspect, to poison an important discussion about how Hispanic migration to the US should be viewed and/or managed. He packs in a surprising number of derogatory stereotypes into his eight page argument (with accompanying charts and graphs) : 1) They (Hispanics) don't share "our" values and culture, 2) They are separatist , 3) They lack "initiative, self-reliance, and ambition" - they're lazy, parasitic, and passive. 4) They are ignorant, 5) They are not Protestant (they're Catholic, oh my!), 6) They're fatalistic. 7) They breed like rabbits.

Huntington must have bought the "Econo" version of the "American Immigrant stereotype Valu-Pak", because his package didn't include the classic charges of "They will rape "our" women", "They tend to have criminal natures", and "They smell bad" (must be the weird ethnic food). I guess the obligatory "They are sex-crazed" (immoral) is implicit in the "They breed like rabbits" charge, but a creative bigot would probably tack on an amorphous "bestial nature" charge, for effect.

And - oh, of course, silly me - there's the ever popular charge of "miscegenation"
posted by troutfishing at 9:02 AM on April 19, 2004


I think it's good that Huntingdon is finally coming out of the closet. A surprising number of people seem to be taking his "clash of civilizations" nonsense seriously. It's always been clear that his "civilizations" are just a code-word for "races".

After reading his poisonous bilge about the "absurd pretensions" of things like universal human rights (they don't apply to dark-skinned civilizations due to their cultural differences), and how it's "cultural values" that created the tiger economies (nothing to do with economic liberalization of course), I for one am glad that he's blown his cover...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:14 AM on April 19, 2004


Any San Franciscan knows this stuff is more than a hundred years old...we were warned by Hearst papers in the early 20th century that hordes of unassimilate-able brown Chinese and Japanese were waiting to sweep into our harbors and destroy our culture. But everything has turned out OK, and I don't think anyone worries that Chinatown is going to destroy the fabric of America.

I read the first page and found the 12-page count uncompelling.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:23 AM on April 19, 2004


I don't read "assimilation" as a gloss of "economic assimilation." Assimilation is cultural and linguistic, and I don't think it's a particular relevant concept for African Americans -- American culture IS African American culture, and vice versa.

There may be a cultural component to economic choices, but that's where I think that we should let "a thousand flowers bloom." People make choices in markets, applying their values, talents, and interests. Blue collar work is honorable and necessary. I'd much rather have people be blue collar workers out of a personal, or even cultural, preference to skilled labor above higher education, than an involuntary exclusion from higher labor.

One can be legitimately concerned that left-wing identify politics could have negative economic or cultural results, but, as I said initially, there's no evidence that these results are actually happening. What is actually happening is that a few hundred noisemakers are earning a living (courtesy mainly of the dumb white liberals who run foundations and universities) touting identity politics. This is not really a problem I worry too much about.
posted by MattD at 9:25 AM on April 19, 2004


Huntington has managed, I suspect, to poison an important discussion about how Hispanic migration to the US should be viewed and/or managed.

Troutfishing - agreed. More than anything, his opinions and research seem lazy and contrived. Changing demographics are an important issue to any society, no matter what the demographic is. But it requires far more analysis, objectivity and reason than Huntington has put into this work.
posted by loquax at 9:25 AM on April 19, 2004


Great article by the Post's guy, though I'm sure there is some subtlety in Huntington's bilge that I missed.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:27 AM on April 19, 2004


Inkysyndicate -- I think it's worth noting that what Hearst and the other "yellow menace" demagogues wanted was to prohibit future Chinese and Japanese immigration -- and they succeeded. IIRC, Asian immigration didn't reach its former levels in absolute numbers until the last few years, and on a percentage basis, has never approached its heights in the pre-"yellow menace" days.

Had Hearst & co. failed, I'm sure that San Francisco wouldn't have been destoryed, but Washington, Oregon and California would have developed in some remarkably different ways from how things ended up.
posted by MattD at 9:32 AM on April 19, 2004


Is the "Hispanic Challenge" anything like the "Jewish Problem?"
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:38 AM on April 19, 2004


MattD -- a good point. Yeah, some parts of California could have been a lot more interesting.

Immigration-phobia is always an easy way to get some attention. There was a graduate English program I was going to attend, until I noticed that only one alum was listed as being very successful. I turned it down, deciding the whole thing sounded a bit too left-wing for me. But the successful alum was the author of "Mexifornia," a tract about the horrors of Mexicans moving in.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:47 AM on April 19, 2004


Mr Huntington,
if your real concern is the strength of our country, you must acknowledge that the genuine threat to the United States is posed by those like you who do not understand nor value our most basic foundations. Conspicuously, in haste toward your pursuit of a question of language and culture, you have nearly dismissed our most important institutions -- the rule of law, civil liberties, and market capitalism -- as the "glue" that keeps our nation together; and none of these are the sole proprietary interest of Anglos nor Protestants.
You should know this.


Huntington's logic fundamentally flawed

WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEXICANS?

posted by matteo at 9:47 AM on April 19, 2004


anyone who plans to collect Social Security and have Medicare pay his doctors ought to be giving a big ole kiss to the 5'2" Mayan teenager pouring his morning coffee -- that guy will have 3 kids before 25 and HIS kids will have 2 kids before 30.

Uhhh, isn't this just "they breed like rabbits" with a positive spin?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:47 AM on April 19, 2004


Sometimes I find it difficult to find my way through the minefield of progressive politics.

I knew this guy, a friend of a friend. He wasn't stupid, nor was he very educated. He was, by choice, a blue-color dude. Trouble was, he lived in Los Angeles, was white, and spoke only English. He was frequently turned down for jobs due to his lack of Spanish language.

Yea, its good to learn another language. Sure, Spanish is the most useful to learn, living in America. But you know, some guy that busts his butt for a meager income doesn't expect to have to tackle learning a language. Not everyone can handle that, and Spanish is one of the most difficult (according to my father-in-law, who speaks 5 or 6 languages, including Spanish)

But what about the red-blooded, English-speaking, American bubba? Where is his opportunity? Do we sacrifice him on the altar to multiculturalism? Do we support his family because he can't get a job, for want of Spanish? (last I heard, he had 4)
posted by Goofyy at 9:56 AM on April 19, 2004


They oughta teach Spanish in primary school, that would be better than forcing everyone to speak English. That's what other countries do when there are a bunch of neighbors speaking various languages.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2004


But what about the red-blooded, English-speaking, American bubba?

Bubba needs to get over his sense of entitlement and become engaged in an ever shifting cultural landscape, instead of trying to recapture some fictional white christian utopia.
And I've lived in LA and now the east bay, and while spanish can be a useful skill, to say it's mandatory to get a job here is pure bullshit.
But if it's a skill that could earn your friend more money, then why doesn't he learn it? I've picked up enough in past work places to get by just by getting to know my co-workers and engaging in some mutual language education.
Besides, it's a good way to make friends.
Unless you don't want to make friends with "those" people.
posted by 2sheets at 10:17 AM on April 19, 2004


If Huntington really wants to keep the dirty little brown-skins out, he should realize that the best way to do this is to invest in Mexico until they're rich enough to have less of an incentive to cross the border.

Spanish is one of the most difficult (according to my father-in-law, who speaks 5 or 6 languages, including Spanish)

That's pure and simple nonsense. Spanish is easy, with a simple, analogous-to-English syntax, many cognates either directly or through Latin, and it isn't tonal. The only hard parts are knowing when to use the past-imperfect versus the preterite and when to use the subjunctive, but those are *really* just matters of having a basic understanding that we do the same thing in English too. And even if you never master those distinctions, you'll get by perfectly well at a basic level.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:18 AM on April 19, 2004


I would disagree that Spanish is one of "the most difficult" languages to learn for english speakers. But that's an interesting subject for an intelligent conversation.

I'm not sure that "Do we sacrifice him on the altar to multiculturalism?" is. I must have missed the part where "not treating age-old patterns of immigration as a Threat to Our Very Way of Life" became "human sacrifice".
posted by freebird at 10:19 AM on April 19, 2004


For a well-documented treatment of this subject from a very different perspective, check out Magical Urbanism (Latinos reinvent the U.S. city) by Mike Davis.
posted by dinsdale at 10:20 AM on April 19, 2004


"But what about the red-blooded, English-speaking, American bubba?"

What about him? Good ole' red blood and Amurikkan speaking bubba (with a mullet!) What about him!! Isn't he special and "deserve" better?

"Where is his opportunity?"

On the last bus to Topeka.

"Do we sacrifice him on the altar to multiculturalism?"

Why not? He ain't doin' nuthin' Saturday night is he? I'll build the altar.

"Do we support his family because he can't get a job, for want of Spanish?"

What's he doing having kids like a jackrabbit if'n he can't support them? I thought only Mexicans did that. Least that's what Huntington has led me to believe.

[/snark]

Bubba needs to be flexible.
Bubba needs to be trainable, whether that's truck driving or speaking Spanish. When in LA, do as they do.
Bubba needs to quit saving his Dixie cups in hopes the South will rise again.
Bubba ain't a victim to be sacrificed, Bubba is an ignorant white boy who feels that someone owes him something because of his skin color and where he was born.
I say LA belongs more to the natives from Mexico than to a white bubba whose ancestors came over in a boat and killed millions of the native's ancestors and stole their land. Bubba needs to quit being so intransigent and learn Spanish.
posted by nofundy at 10:33 AM on April 19, 2004


Bubba needs to get over his sense of entitlement and become engaged in an ever shifting cultural landscape, instead of trying to recapture some fictional white christian utopia.

This is one of the classic mistakes of modern social thinking: Laying the blame for racial strife on Bubba, rather than Bubba's boss.

That said there's a few flaws in Goofyy's analysis of the situation. First of all, the white working class, especially in urban centers, tends to be made up of first and second generation descendants of European immagrants like Greeks, Italians, Poles, Irish etc. who were not long ago considered as alien to the "American way of life" as Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are to some now. So the Hispanic workers are really just the latest chapter in the history of immigration.

In the Western cities, working-class whites tend to be the descendants of the less well documented (but no less persecuted in their time) "Okie" and "Arkie" migrants from the dust bowl and rural poverty.

And, yes there is a tendency among some to scapegoat the white worker for the worlds racism. But if we accept the equation racism=bigotry + power then the relatively powerless Bubba must be less racist than his boss.

Plus, "blue-collar dude" dosen't always mean "poor" or "working class" even. I know skilled carpenters, electricians, and mechanics who clear over six figures yearly and nominally "white collar" office drudges who are barely scraping by under $30k/yr.

Plus, race is aoften used to pit working people of all kinds against eachother while they all get screwed by their CEO's.

The whole thing is a lot more complex than many people realize.

On preview: nofundy, I know it's satisfying to make bubba your personal "other" to hate, but don't try to pretend that your simpleminded epithets and prejudice are contributing anything of substance here.
posted by jonmc at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2004


Plus, race is often used to pit working people of all kinds against eachother while they all get screwed by their CEO's.

commie!
thank goodness Bad Commie is not with us anymore, otherwise he would have stabbed you already!

no, seriously, that's Nixon's Southern Strategy and Reagan's "Reagan Democrats" phenomenon in a nutshell. distract, divide and conquer. just check out ex-Republican Kevin Phillips's Wealth and Democracy
posted by matteo at 10:52 AM on April 19, 2004


Amen, matteo.

The biggest challenge is getting the more urban, progressive wing of the left to embrace Bubba. I think they're up to it. C'mon in, take your shoes off, set a spell...
posted by jonmc at 10:55 AM on April 19, 2004


Sadly, much of the left plays right into this. Witness the busing debacle in Boston back in the seventies. It may have had good intentions at heart, but what ultimately emerged from it was media portrayals of the blacks in Roxbury as "savage invaders" and the Irish in the Southie projects as ignorant meatheads. Those removed from the situation just chuckled smugly to themselves and those whites who could (and I count one wing of my family among them) fled to the suburbs and the cities decayed even more.

All because people attacked a symptom of racial inequities (separation) instead of the causes (poverty resulting in low tax base and substandard educational system). And it gave the right a perfect scenario to fingerpoint at.
posted by jonmc at 11:06 AM on April 19, 2004


The article (or the two pages that I choked down) are remarkably anachronistic. I just finished rereading Jack Beatty's biography of the real Mayor Curley. Part of the story of Curley's rise is the rise of the Boston Irish. The city's old Anglican base was horrified and either fought tooth-and-nail against the rise of Irish politicians or left for the suburbs. The prods lost. Then J. M. and his contemporaries became the establishment, and nothing really bad happened. So my dead relatives and their neighbors got really worked up over nothing.

But let's address why old men like the author of this piece get so worried about new blood-- the transition sucks until you get used to it and old people are notoriously xenophobic whether they have credentials or not.

As for the issue of "new immigrant" birth rates, that's easy-- poor people are fecund and any immigrant group that's large enough to notice is poor (that's why they leave their ancestral homes in droves). After a generation or two with better earning potential than their came-from-nothing parents/grandparents, the birth-rate "advantage" won't even hold true.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:34 AM on April 19, 2004


but what ultimately emerged from it was media portrayals of the blacks in Roxbury as "savage invaders" and the Irish in the Southie projects as ignorant meatheads.

It was really the ignorant meatheads in the Southie projects (Irish or not) who portrayed the black people as "savage invaders." The rest of Southie had something to say about their kids being forced out of their own schools by bussing and the resulting erosion of the neighborhood's unique character, but the ignorant, brick-throwing meatheads are the ones that made the situation ugliest.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:39 AM on April 19, 2004


But you know, some guy that busts his butt for a meager income doesn't expect to have to tackle learning a language.

Well, he might have to. It's called adapting to meet market demand, and us workers have to do it as much as anyone else.

Not everyone can handle that, and Spanish is one of the most difficult (according to my father-in-law, who speaks 5 or 6 languages, including Spanish)

I'm sorry, but that's just crap. Spanish, in my experience, is one of the easiest languages to learn: its orthography is painstakingly clear and regular, the number of verb declensions are about average for a Romance language, and there are cognates all over the place. Try comparing that with Arabic (three numbers, and subjects and verbs must agree in person, number, and gender; plus, up to 15 derived forms for each root word, and few basic words that bear any resemblance to their English synonyms), Cantonese (six tones or more, depending on who you ask, and no shared or related vocabulary), or Japanese (four different writing systems, including two different syllabaries unique to Japan, the Latin alphabet, and more than 1,984 modified Chinese characters). In what sense is Spanish "one of the most difficult" languages? If anything, it is the easiest of the six official United Nations languages for a non-native speaker to learn.
posted by skoosh at 11:42 AM on April 19, 2004


What Mayor Curley said. Every single thing that Huntington says about the "Hispanics", except for the language issues, was said about the "Irish" in the 1800s.

Not to mention the "Jews", the "Italians", the "Bohemians", etc., etc., etc.

Some racial epithets one rarely hears anymore--"paddy", "bohunk", "squarehead", "guinea", "taffy", "sheeny", "mick", "wop", etc., etc., etc.--were tossed around as much as, if not more than, any anti-Latino epithets one might hear today.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:42 AM on April 19, 2004


Not to mention the "Jews", the "Italians", the "Bohemians", etc., etc., etc.

Bohemains? Damned fuzz-bearded beatniks....
posted by jonmc at 11:44 AM on April 19, 2004


And what Skoosh said. People who want jobs in which a knowledge of English is required should learn English; people who want jobs in which a knowledge of Spanish is required should learn Spanish.

I know lots of blue-collar non-Latino people in the restaurant industry who learned Spanish so they could communicate in the first language of the majority of their co-workers. Whether or not Gooffyy's friend likes it, he would be well served to think about his own employability rather than blame others.

Or he could move to Utah.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:46 AM on April 19, 2004


No, dear, by "Bohemians" here, I mean the "ignorant", "bestial" Eastern Europeans caricatured by Edna Ferber and others...
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:47 AM on April 19, 2004


They oughta teach Spanish in primary school, that would be better than forcing everyone to speak English. That's what other countries do when there are a bunch of neighbors speaking various languages.

Wait a minute.....I thought most people here agreed that the Hispanics had no problem assimiliating to the current culture.
posted by SpaceCadet at 11:49 AM on April 19, 2004


sidhedevil, I know. I just couldn't resist the obvious pun.

Now, get a job and a haircut, Maynard.
posted by jonmc at 11:51 AM on April 19, 2004


Wow, the mexahoods of America are enraged. Well, I think Huntington, as usual, is a little black and white (where brown= black), but he seems to be spot on as far as the enormous threat to the American Geist goes. While any ethnic tribal dance from the Third World is hailed as a priceless heritage, everything related to Mayflower tradition is attacked as "ethnocentrism". I'd much rather have apple pie and the Founding Fathers than tamales and El Chavo.
posted by 111 at 11:56 AM on April 19, 2004


What gets me is that plenty of Bubbas are probably out there right now groovin' to China Grove on classic rock radio, the song about Asian-Americans living in Texas who don't seem to care they're in the Long Star State, and who keep lookin' the East, etc. It'll come on as part of a Doobie Bros three-in-a-row segment.

I have no idea the greater signficance of this fact, but ...
posted by raysmj at 11:56 AM on April 19, 2004


I always mention this book in debates like this, but it is a good read and guaranteed to annoy any racist Irish-Americans:

How the Irish Became White

The "Customers who bought this book also bought" is worth checking out as well.
posted by meehawl at 11:57 AM on April 19, 2004


And on thinking further, perhaps in a hundred years we'll be able to read the story of the successful assimilation of Anglo culture:

Cómo El Anglos Se convirtió en Latino

and that will be no bad thing!
posted by meehawl at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2004


I have no idea the greater signficance of this fact, but ...

That's OK, ray, just listen to the music, who-oh-oh, listen to the music, all the tiiimme...

I'd much rather have apple pie and the Founding Fathers than tamales and El Chavo.

111, I give you the immortal wisdom of a Chinese comedian I once watched:

"I came to America, and everybody said: baseball's as American as apple pie, Chevrolet as american as aplle pie. I go to McDonald's and buy an apple pie. It looks like an egg roll."

Don't feed people false dichotomies, man, it only shows your ignorance and/or biases.
posted by jonmc at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2004


The American what, 111? And apple pie, as we know it in the US, is German.

Speaking as an actual Mayflower descendant, a Daughter of the American Revolution, etc., etc., I, for one, am delighted to welcome our new Hispanic overlords.

111, I am sure that my ancestors made fun of your ancestors and thought they were appalling barbarians. Well, even the stopped clock is right twice a day...

JonMC, I knew you knew.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:06 PM on April 19, 2004


but the ignorant, brick-throwing meatheads are the ones that made the situation ugliest.

I don't deny that many people in Southie behaved repugnantly during that debacle, but it's saying something that people ensconced in the all-white Back Bay could cluck their heads at the "ignorant bigots" in the Old Colony Projects, if you see where I'm going. and that they decided to make poorest white neighborhood and the poorest black neighborhood in the city lead the charge for integration. This book provides an excellent alternate look at the situation.
posted by jonmc at 12:15 PM on April 19, 2004


jonmc, I am biased. I feel totally indebted to the caucasian tradition. I love it. Why should I refrain from saying so? I think hispanics usually work hard and I do not object to them particularly. But they're a workforce and that's it. I fail to see their cultural (as opposed to anthropological )contribution to the USA. Please feel free to offer examples that could make me alter my POV.

Sidhevil, Geist means spirit. For someone who claims to know the origins of apple pie and so forth, you could improve your knowledge of German culture in other areas. Your line of reasoning seems racist to me. I do not object to Mexicans on a pigment or genealogical tree basis; I simply think their culture has so far failed to reach the summits of knowledge and to foster a major civilization (no, the aztecs were not a major civilization). The way I see it, Octavio Paz, for instance, is an intellectual middleweight. The doesn't mean no hispanic person will ever make a decisive contribution to the canon of the civilized world but, until then, I'll stick with Benjamin Franklin et al.
posted by 111 at 12:21 PM on April 19, 2004


"Cómo los Anglos se convirtieron en Latinos," dude. Y claro, no será un mal. "Libertad" es una palabra dulce en cualquier idioma.
posted by skoosh at 12:23 PM on April 19, 2004


I fail to see their cultural (as opposed to anthropological )contribution to the USA. Please feel free to offer examples that could make me alter my POV.

Eaten a taco lately, genius? Listened to a Santana or Tito Puente record? Seen some Diego Rivera influnced art at the museum? Said "Hasta La Vista," to a freind?

And those are just obvious pop cultural examples.

jonmc, I am biased. I feel totally indebted to the caucasian tradition

What caucasian tradition? There's about a hundred diffrent ethnic groups that fall under the rubric of "caucasian," many of which spent the large part of preceding centuries trying to wipe eachother out. The only culture in which all the "caucasian" groups for a cohesive culture is American culture, and blacks and Hispanics (and Asians and Arabs and Native Americans etc) are an integral part of that.
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on April 19, 2004


I'd much rather have apple pie and the Founding Fathers than tamales and El Chavo.

I'd rather have all four. That's why I'm happy to live in the US.

I simply think their culture has so far failed to reach the summits of knowledge and to foster a major civilization (no, the aztecs were not a major civilization). The way I see it, Octavio Paz, for instance, is an intellectual middleweight. The doesn't mean no hispanic person will ever make a decisive contribution to the canon of the civilized world, but I'll stick with Benjamin Franklin et al.


Dude, you're nuts. The last I checked, our "civilzation" flourishes about a jillion times better when it forms economic and social relationships that go beyond ethnic nationalism. One needn't choose between Locke and Rousseau, one can read them both. Free trade, hombre. It works for ideas and cultural products as well.

Your contention that no hispanic person has yet made a decisive contribution to the canon of the civilized world is not only laughable on its face, but all the more transparently cheesy when keeping in mind that you "stick with Benjamin Franklin et al." Of course you aren't hip to anything that the Americas has to offer south of Texas, you don't care! My grandfather honestly can't name any great black basketball players, you know, but the voluntary adoption of racist binders sort of removes one from the realm of those about whose observations a shit is given.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:40 PM on April 19, 2004


Und eine Kultur, die Kinky produziert, ist für mich annehmbar.
posted by skoosh at 12:45 PM on April 19, 2004


Eaten a taco lately, genius? Listened to a Santana or Tito Puente record? Seen some Diego Rivera influnced art at the museum? Said "Hasta La Vista," to a freind?

Or watched baseball? Or read Borges or Marquez? Or inquired as to the governor of the state of Arizona (and possible VP candidate on the Homosocialist Islamocoward ticket)? Of course not. You self-limit your exposure to people of substandard cultural purity.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:49 PM on April 19, 2004


The US needs immigrants, given it's low birth rate, and reasonably high expectations of it's official working population (wanna be a full-time fruit picker?). If they stopped immigration, who'd do the menial jobs? Official blue-collared workers have a union and a decent pay package. They're the "official" working class. It's the black market of slaves underneath that helps make the US tick- an American tradition.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:56 PM on April 19, 2004


jonmc, that's my point. Tacos and J-Lo are OK, but they're not culture. Can you seriously compare Raphael or Michelangelo to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera? Tito Puente to Händel? Borges to Shakespeare?

What caucasian tradition?

The one created by Jews, Christians, the Greek philosophers, the artists of the Renaissance, the Romantic theorists from Germany and so on. You will find Goethe and Proust in the Encyclopedia Britannica, but no Rick Martin or Telemundo.

Ignatius, you'd rather have all four, but you can only have all four in a Western, caucasian cultural background. I say you are much too obfuscated by Levi-Strauss' boring, destructive tradition of multiculturalism, but that kind of delusion fails the test of reality. Whatever you do, do not ever idealize other cultures.

Dude, you're nuts. The last I checked, our "civilization" flourishes about a jillion times better when it forms economic and social relationships that go beyond ethnic nationalism.

Really? In Athens, not even the wealthiest or cleverest foreigner was given equal treatment. Locke and Rousseau, which you mention, were Europeans. Do not underestimate that concept. Rousseau never dined with the noble savage (his concept thereof, btw, differs a lot from the current aboriginal- friendly usage).

Your contention that no hispanic person has yet made a decisive contribution to the canon of the civilized world is not only laughable on its face, but all the more transparently cheesy when keeping in mind that you "stick with Benjamin Franklin et al."

Prove me wrong then. Name names.
posted by 111 at 1:00 PM on April 19, 2004


modern mexico is more an extension of spanish history and culture than aztec.
posted by luckyclone at 1:08 PM on April 19, 2004


jonmc, that's my point. Tacos and J-Lo are OK, but they're not culture. Can you seriously compare Raphael or Michelangelo to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera? Tito Puente to Händel? Borges to Shakespeare?

Absolutely. Hell, I prefer Tito Puente to Handel, but that's just my taste. And after a certain point, it's all taste. Kahlo & Rivera might not be your bag, and that's fine, but denying their importance and contributions is ridiculous.
posted by jonmc at 1:09 PM on April 19, 2004


modern mexico is more an extension of spanish history and culture than aztec.
posted by luckyclone at 1:08 PM PST on April 19


I wish. Though I grant you that Mexico is improving at an amazing pace and is likely to join the 1st World eventually. Imho, NAFTA saved Mexico.
posted by 111 at 1:13 PM on April 19, 2004


and since when is food not culture?

On that front, the number one condiment in the US is salsa not ketchup, amigo.

You will find Goethe and Proust in the Encyclopedia Britannica, but no Rick Martin or Telemundo.

You could argue that's because the Britannica was (until recently) written exclusively by a bunch of old white guys.
posted by jonmc at 1:13 PM on April 19, 2004


If I may interject for a moment - while I agree with the vast majority of what's been said here (Huntington's latest work is of poor quality, at least), I do object to the title of the thread "More clash from the right". I'm not sure these folks would agree that this is a right-left issue either. And neither would the 32% that voted for Bush in 2000 (compared to 21% for Dole in 96, including 43% in Texas). And isn't California, where most of the "concern" comes from a predominantly Democratic state? Anyway, the issue's not black or white, or left or right.
posted by loquax at 1:14 PM on April 19, 2004


I feel totally indebted to the caucasian tradition. I love it. Why should I refrain from saying so?

posted by 111 at 12:21 PM PST on April 19


there's a difference between saying your culture is great and saying another culture is worthless.
posted by Miles Long at 1:18 PM on April 19, 2004


Talk about false dichotomies... 111, nobody's trying to pry that morsel of pie from your sticky fist. It is quite possible to reject Huntington's 'aaah, the brown people are taking over' rhetoric without suggesting we burn effigies of the Founding Fathers, make salsa the official condiment of the United States, and ship all the Anglos off to Hispanification camps. Similarly, it's possible to appreciate the cultural contributions of your (I'm guessing) white ancestors without erasing those of my not-so-white ones. There's a bit of middle ground to be explored here, really. What, exactly, is the point of having a "my culture is better than yours" pissing contest?
posted by purplemonkie at 1:19 PM on April 19, 2004


The way I see it, Octavio Paz, for instance, is an intellectual middleweight. The doesn't mean no hispanic person will ever make a decisive contribution to the canon of the civilized world

I would wager a guess that he may have a leg up on you when it comes to the theory and utlization of English grammar and sentence structure, however. Oh, and our childhood friend called logic.

[/cheap shot]

You know, I started writing a big response about the malleability of culture, and how culture doesn't evolve into new and ultimately beneficial forms without the addition of foreign cultural influences, while insular societies just fester and fade away, eventually being appropriated and assimilated by more dynamic cultures (aka, simple elementary anthropology)... but realized that it would be a waste of time.
posted by tittergrrl at 1:22 PM on April 19, 2004


What a circular argument that "cultural worth" drivel is. Since you're implicitly defining cultural worth as that which you value and which contributed to your culture, naturally anything outside of it wouldn't qualify -- by definition. Even if you knew about it.

Go and live in a country outside the European traditional stomping grounds for about five years -- and not in a first-world expat enclave either -- and learn firsthand what other people value in their heritage and why before you start ascribing your worthlessly subjective merit points to each.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:24 PM on April 19, 2004


The US needs immigrants, given it's low birth rate

In a planet packed this full, I find it hard to think of any birth rate above replacement as "low".
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:28 PM on April 19, 2004


Why are people comparing Kahlo and Borges and Puente to Michaelangelo, Shakespeare and Handel? Wouldn't it be more valid to compare modern Latino cultural icons to modern Anglo-Protestant cultural icons? Are we going to seriously claim that Fitzgerald and Faulkner miles ahead of Borges, or would it be more valid to claim that they have relatively equal standing, culturally speaking?
posted by deanc at 1:30 PM on April 19, 2004


Fitzgerald (as his name should indicate) was neither Anglo nor protestant.

It keeps getting more complicated, dosen't it?
posted by jonmc at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2004


You could argue that's because the Britannica was (until recently) written exclusively by a bunch of old white guys.

Sure, jonmc. Perhaps we should let the latinos run the show and see what happens then. I wonder how the Enciclopedia de los Gringos would turn out. On the other hand, you could perhaps argue that, on matters of relevance, such as high art and politics, the "bunch of white guys" were just a little bit better than their brownish counterparts.

Miles, culture involves choices and standards; you cannot equate things which have had different levels of impact on human history.

tittergirl, secular humiliation and sheer energy are driving forces in History, but they say nothing about culture. Alexander conquered territories where once great civilizations flourished, but still he did not found a great civilization himself and he did not cease being basically a barbarian. Insular societies may thrive or wither depending on how careful their criteria for the acceptance of foreigners. Remember, "elementary" anthropology often takes the point of view of the savage. All in all, since the age of conquest is over, I say people now have the option to choose their neighbors, fellow citizens and cultural standards. The "malleability of culture" can exist only if there is a culture at all.

Go and live in a country outside the European traditional stomping grounds for about five years -- and not in a first-world expat enclave either -- and learn firsthand what other people value in their heritage and why before you start ascribing your worthlessly subjective merit points to each.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:24 PM PST on April 19


Not for five years thank God, but I have travelled outside the limits of the civilized world and it's indescribably awful. 9 out of 10 times, their idea of culture is 1)a polytheist invocation of nature forces 2)some drum-based rhythm and 3)spicy dishes. That's it really.
posted by 111 at 1:39 PM on April 19, 2004


*barfs*
posted by matteo at 1:43 PM on April 19, 2004


This reminds me of an article I read about Israel recently. The question (paraphrased) - Is Israel a nation of its citizens, as we assume a democracy to be, or is it a Jewish state? When I read the question, I assumed the first before reading the second part of the question. Then I read the second part, and had no idea. The two are used so often in reference to Israel when, in fact, they are diametrically opposed descriptors.

So the question to Americans is - are we a democracy composed of its citizens, or a nation of Anglo-Protestants (or some other cultural mishmash definition)? To me, America is a nation its citizens, but then again, I'm half-Cuban/half-Puerto-Rican, I have a vested interest in thinking all you "whiteys" ain't gonna boot me back to Castro. ;)
posted by billpena at 1:45 PM on April 19, 2004


Sure, jonmc. Perhaps we should let the latinos run the show and see what happens then. I wonder how the Enciclopedia de los Gringos would turn out. On the other hand, you could perhaps argue that, on matters of relevance, such as high art and politics, the "bunch of white guys" were just a little bit better than their brownish counterparts.

Zip up your pants, your bigotry is showing.

Are you honestly trying to assert that the fact that the EB was written by a bunch of white guys during eras when racism and racist thought was far more acceptable than it is now didn't affect the authors perception of what was important? Or are you just terrified of drowning in a sea of little swarthy people?

their idea of culture is 1)a polytheist invocation of nature forces

as opposed to monotheistic evocations of God as a solicitation for money.


2)some drum-based rhythm

Which evolved into the foundation for blues & jazz, which when mixed with the offspring of European folk forms formed the bedrock of American popular music.

3)spicy dishes. That's it really.

My southern European-born mother & grandmother can cook you some spicy dishes as well, 111, but that's beside the point. Before the arrival of sugar cane from the west indies the European diet was notoriously bland.

Not to mention, did you drink coffee this morning, 111? or hot chocolate? Both Latin American in origin...

You really need to take your blinders off and relax,man.
posted by jonmc at 1:51 PM on April 19, 2004


111-
No need to get into a big semantic clash, but to some extent, what is culture?

Is music culture? If so, then it is odd that you're expecting me to name Mexican and South American musicians who excel at European music (which I've no doubt exist). That's silly. Name me a Georgian who was great Union general, the best British opera composer, or a great black hockey player. Different people do different shit, and I question the level of understanding of and connection to music felt by someone who doesn't relish haven't their conventions of rythm, sound, instrumentation, etc. challenged and reforged.

Is art culture? Why are Kahlo or Rivera inferior to Michalangelo? Because you say? I'm personally incredibly bored by that whole "500 years of nothing but pictures of Jesus" thing in Western art, but I won't disparage it for those who dig it.

Is politics culture? Ever heard of Emiliano Zapata or Vincente Fox? Or (listens for sound of 111's built-in commiesenser) Jaime Wheelock? There is a lot of new political philosphy coming from the South American left at the moment, but you don't recognize it is as valid because you hate the left. It is nonetheless important in the way that Machiavelli and Marx ought to be important even to those who loathe Machiavellianism or Marxism.

Is civil society and a free press culture? The Latin American press has a hundred times more cojones than the US press. Read La Jornada. Nads. Are autonomous and diverse universities culture? They got them down there, too.

Based on the examples that you continue to provide, it seems that your narrow racism is refined further by your demand that in order to be important something must be really old.

on preview:
Nevermind. You're a racist dick in the 19th-century colonial mold. Are you wearing a white plastic helmet and sipping a mint julep? You should probably step away from the computer now and go make sure that there aren't any negoroes trying to sully your women.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:52 PM on April 19, 2004


Coversely, white people saying "whitey" is annoying posturing. Just who are you trying to impress? "Look, swarthy person, I hate whitey, too!"

Hey, whitey, didn't I tell you to drink a tall glass of shut the hell up?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:56 PM on April 19, 2004


Not for five years thank God, but I have travelled outside the limits of the civilized world and it's indescribably awful.

This just in: 111's a xenophobe. For more random, ill-informed generalizations disguised as objective Historical fact, don't touch that dial.

By the way, dude, Borges & Garcia Marquez would like to meet you at the Third World Cafe to show you a few things that have happened to the Western tradition in literature since Dickens passed away. They'd like to bring along the architects who built Macchu Picchu and Tical to discuss some kinks in your definition of civilization. Oh, and Che Guevera may drop by - he thinks you may have skipped a few key chapters in your Concise Introduction to Enlightenment Philosophy.

And if there's time after that, the line of bright students from 'outside the limits of the civilized world' is stretched right around the block - and many of 'em look mighty miffed. Even Gandhi's scowling.

What a mess.
posted by gompa at 1:59 PM on April 19, 2004


111: Your appeal to a "western, caucasian tradition" that supposedly stands in opposition to Mexican/Hispanic one is bizarre and confused in several ways. First, as jonmc has already pointed out, the notion of a "caucasian tradition" is problematic on its face. Second, there is no earthly reason why French-, German-, and English-speakers should be included in that tradition, but not Spanish-speakers. Third, there is a New World/Old World dichotomy that you're glossing over, as well as a simultaneous privileging of European culture and identification of the former with Anglo-American culture. That is why you name Goethe, Proust, Raphael, Michelangelo, Handel, Shakespeare, Locke, and Rousseau in support of a "western, caucasian tradition" that only Anglo-Americans have inherited, even though none of them are American and most of them were not Anglophones.

The glaring omission from your argument is that Spanish is a European language, and Spain is a part of Europe. So maybe Ricky Martin and Telemundo aren't in the Encyclopedia Britannica. How about Spinoza? How about Cervantes? How about Goya? How about Velázquez? Not only that, but Spain, and Europe in general, is a major source of Latin American culture. Therefore, every Mexican has just as much of a claim on all those figures of "western, caucasian tradition" as you do. So don't try to paint Anglos as superior to Latinos by naming a bunch of great Frenchmen, Germans, and Italians, or by comparing those high-culture apples to the pop-culture oranges of today. Europe's heritage is one that we hold in common with everyone else in the New World.

On preview: What luckyclone said. And 111, "brownish counterparts"? I thought this wasn't about skin color. Also, where exactly did you go? For how long? Did you learn some of the local language, or talk to any local people on more than a "table for two, please" level?
posted by skoosh at 2:01 PM on April 19, 2004


By the way, dude, Borges & Garcia Marquez would like to meet you at the Third World Cafe to show you a few things that have happened to the Western tradition in literature since Dickens passed away.

Classic. : )
posted by skoosh at 2:03 PM on April 19, 2004


have travelled outside the limits of the civilized world and it's indescribably awful

It isn't even possible to parody a remark like this. It's a parody of itself. In other words, you haven't experienced anything except as an unwilling traveller. Yeah, those Japanese and their jungle drums, those animist Egyptians; you've just seen it all, haven't you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:08 PM on April 19, 2004


culture doesn't evolve into new and ultimately beneficial forms without the addition of foreign cultural influences, while insular societies just fester and fade away

Rubbish - look at Edo-period Japan. It deliberately closed the doors on foreigners (well apart from a few ports for trading) and it didn't fester and fade away. You only have western culture as a reference - that's why you think multiculturism is necessary or a culture will "fester and fade away".

In a planet packed this full, I find it hard to think of any birth rate above replacement as "low".

Saxman, the planet is not "chock full", but the longevity rates have increased in places like India and Mexico where birthrates are still high. This isn't happening in western countries, hence immigration. The US population will be in sharp decline in the future unless it maintains high immigration numbers. The US is currently at a record low (pick your Google link!!)
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:26 PM on April 19, 2004


jonmc, we are the world. We are the children. we are the ones who'll make a better day, so let's start giving: giving people a true notion of what culture really is. Culture is not a commodity. Culture's not folklore. What do international migration trends tell you? How many people are desperately trying to flee Switzerland for a new life in Ghana?
Please let me know when the paperback edition of the Enciclopedia Chicana becomes available.

Ignatius, to say the very least, our concepts of culture and,more particularly, high culture, differ. You're probably one of those people who admire naive paintings and socialist realism. I wonder how we manage to communicate at all.

gompa, George, if I said "I've to France and it's awful" would you object? Why can't I dislike most (not all) Third World cities I know? Why does it make me a xenophobe?

How about Spinoza? How about Cervantes? How about Goya? How about Velázquez?

Spinoza was dutch, the others were spanish. We are talking about hispanic culture, which imho has not ever produced one single great artist. Brownish was clearly an ironic remark Re jonmc's bunch of white guys.
skoosh: countries. Oh well. You don't want to know. I don't want to offend particular countries. I've been to Asia, America and Africa more than once, I've about 160 days in 3rd World countries, and the worst case scenarios are the stuff described in The Clash's "Safe European Home".
posted by 111 at 2:30 PM on April 19, 2004


skoosh: Thanks for verbalizing something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I don't understand why racists always assume North Americans are descended from European culture but South Americans aren't. Arguably, the European conquering of the South American continent was well underway when the English and Dutch started settling the East coast. Maybe it is because Spain had already absorbed a lot of Moorish culture and was already a bit, er, swarthy.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:31 PM on April 19, 2004


You know I read a lot. Especially things that have to do with history. I find that shit fascinating. In fact, I don't know if you know this or not, Sicilians were spawned by niggers.

It's a fact. Sicilians have nigger blood pumpin' through their hearts. If you don't believe me, look it up. You see, hundreds and hundreds of years ago the Moors conquered Sicily. And Moors are niggers. Way back then, Sicilians were like the wops in northern Italy. Blond hair, blue eyes. But, once the Moors moved in there, they changed the whole country. They did so much fuckin' with the Sicilian women, they changed the blood-line for ever, from blond hair and blue eyes to black hair and dark skin.

I find it absolutely amazing to think that to this day, hundreds of years later, Sicilians still carry that nigger gene. I'm just quotin' history. It's a fact. It's written. Your ancestors were niggers. Your great, great, great, great, great-grandmother was fucked by a nigger, and had a half-nigger kid. That is a fact.

Now tell me, am I lyin'?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:40 PM on April 19, 2004


Tacos and J-Lo are OK, but they're not culture. Can you seriously compare Raphael or Michelangelo to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera? Tito Puente to Händel? Borges to Shakespeare?

First, you don't get to dump Spain (or Portugal) from Latino culture. That's just asinine.

Well, I'd compare from at least vaguely similar eras. I think you'll find that Diego Velazquez compares favorably to either Raphael or Michelangelo or even DaVinci -- I've heard more than one critic describe his "Las Meninas," a portrait of some of the royal family, as the greatest painting known -- with the exception that he wasn't convenient for Popes to hire. Pedro Calderon de la Barca* and Lope de Vega are often considered in, if not the same breaths with Shakespeare, then close to it. I'm not a big music dude, but you'll still find people performing old Latino works like "Hanacpachap cusicuinnin."

Borges and Marquez certainly compare with anything Anglo culture has produced in the twentieth century, and the whole notion of "magical realism" imported largely from Marquez's work has been influential in the US. In the art realm, there are also such little-known pikers such as Picasso in addition to Rivera.

*are there really well-educated liberal arts types out there, such as 111 seems to style himself, who've never even heard of "toda la vida es suenyo, y los suenyos suenyos son" (with ny's instead of tildes)?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:41 PM on April 19, 2004


True Romance.
posted by 111 at 2:42 PM on April 19, 2004


The TR thing was meant for civil_disobedient.
posted by 111 at 2:43 PM on April 19, 2004


Sorry, all this talk of race-mixin' got me thinking about that wonderful scene.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:45 PM on April 19, 2004


I'd put Fortunato Arriola's paintings up against any of his contemporaries in North America. And If I am forbidden to mention Spanish and Portuguese painters as part of the hispanic tradition, then 111 must exclude references to Italy and Greece. Actually in my opinion, the artists out of Italy would count more under the hispanic tradition anyway it is called Latin America after all. And where did Latin originate?

I'm just getting pissed off as my Italian, Puerto Rican, native American, German heritage has done nothing to reduce either my appreciation for the Western Canon, nor my ability to accept that it is a small fraction of the things that are worth knowing.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:46 PM on April 19, 2004


nor -> or
posted by bashos_frog at 2:49 PM on April 19, 2004


Space Cadet: you are somewhat incorrect regarding the Edo period of Japan which, admittedly, I am no where near an expert on. HOWEVER, doing some quick google searches, the Edo period was not completely closed off to outsiders. Edo Japan had special relationships with China, Korea, and the Netherlands... the only three countries allowed to land in and interact with the culture.

Please see: Dutch influence on the reception and development of western-style expression in early modern Japan, as written by Takeshi Mizutani and Setsuko Nakamura. From the abstract:
"Japan and the Netherlands have maintained a special relationship for about 300 years since the adoption of the National Seclusion policy by the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867)....In particular, Dutch people provided the only window from which Japanese could see outside and meet modern European culture, and such circumstances created a very interesting and important academic area of historical study of Dutch-Japanese relations. Through the medium of the Dutch language, Japanese people studied Western sciences including medical and natural sciences, and general academic studies. In art history, Dutch art and culture introduced Western styles, and helped to establish realistic expression in Japan."
More can be found in this article: Life After The "Liefde": Dutch Influence In Japan, again where it is noted that "Dutch Learning" helped bring Western medicine to Edo Japan. A later paragraph states:
Medicine was not the only branch of Western Learning that captured the interest of the Japanese. By the end of the nineteenth century, they had assimilated an impressive body of knowledge in such fields as physics, chemistry, photography, astronomy, calendar studies, gunnery, castle construction and fortification, shipbuilding, navigation, and military science, and had built the foundations for Japan's modern navy and national defense.


This is all culture. Education, art, medicine. And if the Dutch influenced Edo society, it is pretty darned likely China and Korea did as well.

Of course it is impossible to say what would have happened to Edo Japan had they not had interactions with these three nations, but we can be sure that their relationships were not just the trading of goods. There was also the trading of ideas, which is essential (IMO) for a growing, successful society and culture.

posted by tittergrrl at 3:02 PM on April 19, 2004


Oh, and speaking to my last point, I know the Edo period only lasted until 1867, but when it comes to the large list of assimilated items in the second quote, I doubt they got all that in from 1868-1900. ;)

Argh, and the link to the second article is: Life After The "Liefde": Dutch Influence In Japan
posted by tittergrrl at 3:09 PM on April 19, 2004


To George Spiggott:
Six reasons to love Africa.
posted by 111 at 3:12 PM on April 19, 2004


tittergrrl : Don't forget the Portuguese - the Shogun had developed a taste for sherry, so importing it remained legal.

China is a contrasting example of what happens when you isolate a country. China went from world's leading civilization to third world country quite rapidly after they disbanded their navy, IIRC.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:12 PM on April 19, 2004


To George Spiggott: Japanese drums rock.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:17 PM on April 19, 2004


Don't forget the Portuguese

Where's Miguel when you need him?!
posted by tittergrrl at 3:17 PM on April 19, 2004


gompa, . . . if I said "I've to France and it's awful" would you object?

Yes. Or, at least, I'd suggest you amend the statement to make it clear that you're voicing your own opinion based on extremely limited experience, and not an empirical truth.

Why can't I dislike most (not all) Third World cities I know?

You can dislike anywhere you want, as much as you want.

Why does it make me a xenophobe?

It doesn't. What makes you a xenophobe is extrapolating from your limited and deeply biased experience in a few Third World capitals to the assertion that there is no real culture outside the Judeo-Christian tradition. What makes you a xenophobe is a belief in the existence of a huge monolithic Other that can be dismissed with a few glib observations based on your blinkered experience.
posted by gompa at 3:17 PM on April 19, 2004


and the worst case scenarios are the stuff described in The Clash's "Safe European Home".

Your xenophobia indicates you have no idea what the message of this song is.
posted by Jimbob at 3:22 PM on April 19, 2004


I don't know. My daughter's part Mexican. She's also part Native American, part Italian, part Irish, part French, part German, part English and part Dutch. She's Hispanic and "Anglo-Protestant" all in one (IMHO) cute little package. So I figure over time the Horrible Hispanic Horde will assimilate just fine; over at the Scalzi household, at least, it's started already. Viva la Assimilation!
posted by jscalzi at 3:29 PM on April 19, 2004


What makes you a xenophobe is a belief in the existence of a huge monolithic Other that can be dismissed with a few glib observations based on your blinkered experience.

You mean I should disregard my own empirical experiences, which form the basis of everyday action for most rational human beings, because you think they are "limited"? When do they cease to be limited then? Do I have to live with african pygmies for twenty-eight years before I'm duly entitled to reach the conclusion that potable water and french literature are irreplaceable items? Or perhaps you mean I should actually obey Levi-Strauss and multiculturalism university teachers instead of my own common sense?

Jimbob, I do know. I take the lyrics for their face value though. What do you make of it? Nietzsche once remarked that when two different cultures meet, the first thing you can observe is that the so-called lower culture absorbs the vices and shortcomings of the higher culture. In this sense, you may interpret Safe European Home as an ironic mea culpa, but I see it simply as a description of certain seedy places where barbaric locals exploit clueless tourists.
posted by 111 at 3:35 PM on April 19, 2004


Spinoza was dutch, the others were spanish. We are talking about hispanic culture, which imho has not ever produced one single great artist.

We are talking about Hispanic culture, but vis a vis what - Anglo-American culture, or European culture? If it's to be compared to Anglo-American culture, then why do you name all these Europeans? On what basis can Anglo-Americans count as their own all these lights of European civilization, that Latino-Americans cannot? I say again:
  1. Spanish is a European language;
  2. Spain is a part of Europe;
  3. By language, history, and ancestry, Spanish-speaking people in the Americas are linked to Spain, and therefore, Europe as a whole;
  4. Mexican civilization is part of Western civilization.
If you want to make some claim about the special privileged status of Anglo-American culture, you should compare Anglo-American artists, authors, and philosophers to their Latino contemporaries, as so many already have. But don't try to say that Goethe and Proust belong more to you than to Octavio Paz. They don't.

Re specific countries: I ask because maybe some of us here can tell you what valuable and interesting aspects you might have missed about the cultures of countries X, Y and Z, if we knew what countries X, Y and Z were. Also, it's funny that you bring up the Clash, since they were cross-cultural syncretists par excellence, and would either laugh at the suggestion that Jamaican culture has nothing to offer the world, or else punch you in the face.

On preview: I see you've already indicated that you don't care what the Clash think, even when you quote them.

What do international migration trends tell you?

They tell me that people go where the jobs are. Did you ever notice how many people in South America have German surnames? I guess the past existence of some historical moment when there was more money to be made in Argentina than in Germany "proves" the superiority of Argentine culture.

More on preview: You mean I should disregard my own empirical experiences, which form the basis of everyday action for most rational human beings, because you think they are "limited"? When do they cease to be limited then?

You should realize that they are limited, and not extrapolate universal assertions from such limited, anecdotal evidence. Your experiences will never cease to be limited, though with care and patience, they may become broader and deeper, and thus yield a somewhat fuller and more reliable picture of the world. I have been to Britain, in the sense that I have been in the waiting area of the Manchester airport. My empirical experience there would serve me well if I ever went back (interesting facts: there's a smoking section; there's a facility for wudu`, the Muslim cleansing ritual; there is an appalling lack of Manchester United jerseys in the gift shops). However, I realize that my experience is limited, and that it makes no sense for me to extrapolate anything about the situation in the airport waiting area (e.g. the lack of Manchester United jerseys) to the entirety of Britain, or even to the city of Manchester. Similarly, though you might have spent some time in some remote part of central Africa, that experience cannot be justifiably extrapolated to the whole of the world outside of North America and Europe.
posted by skoosh at 4:39 PM on April 19, 2004


Sidhevil, Geist means spirit.

I know that, dumbass.

For someone who claims to know the origins of apple pie and so forth, you could improve your knowledge of German culture in other areas.

I know plenty about German culture, you imbecile. My point (which you are too stupid to have grasped) was that the US is not a monolithic culture.

Would you like to read some attacks on German immigrants from the early 19th century, in which they are called "squareheads" and "Dutchies" and accused of all the evils that Huntington attributes to Latinos (insularism, "too many" children, not participating in the broader culture, poor English skills, etc.)? Because there are plenty of them.

Anti-German thinkers in the early Federal period included your hero, Benjamin Franklin. This review article sums Franklin's point of view up quite well:

"Benjamin Franklin held nativist views. Before the American Revolution, Pennsylvania, being one-third German and one-third English, Franklin and others feared that the Germans would become so numerous in Pennsylvania that, rather than be Anglicized, they would Germanize the English. He hoped that they could be induced to go to other colonies. In 1798 anti-German nativism produced the Alien and Sedition Act--the Federalists were the party of the privileged and wealthy. They did not want the Anglo element in America to be polluted by unrestricted immigration. How modern that sounds! The Act lengthened the required period of residence for naturalization from five to fourteen years."
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:52 PM on April 19, 2004


this reminds me of a story. Friend of mine in high school loved debate class. He liked to go up against people who had chosen the most simple, softball topics to argue for. Stuff like 'why child abuse is bad'. He liked to find reasons to debate in favor of child abuse. Just cause it was harder. just to make shit interesting. of course he didn't believe any of it.

!!! makes me think of that, this whole 'Hispanics never produced anything worthwhile, whites are the best' screed.
posted by Miles Long at 4:52 PM on April 19, 2004


Here is an actual quote from Benjamin Franklin on German emigrants to Pennsylvania (the ancestors of Dwight D. Eisenhower, among other great Americans):

“Why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of Aliens?”
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:00 PM on April 19, 2004


Ditto Miles. But still annoying.
posted by loquax at 5:01 PM on April 19, 2004


In Franklin's time there was much more liklihood of something like that taking place... now America has been able to absorb tons of different cultures over 300 years of history...

also, purely Mexican culture is pretty new, newer then American culture, and as has been noted, a big part of its roots have come from the same place, Europe. Given the history of, oh, the last 2,000 years or so, it seems likely that Mexican-American culture will end up being part of mainstream America, and not overtaking it.
posted by chaz at 5:16 PM on April 19, 2004


I know what you mean, Miles. But 111 is, AFAICT, not a troll, but a true believer.
posted by skoosh at 5:26 PM on April 19, 2004


when does the 111 movie come out?
posted by mcsweetie at 6:52 PM on April 19, 2004


jonmc, we are the world. We are the children. we are the ones who'll make a better day, so let's start giving: giving people a true notion of what culture really is.

Culture is the arts, language, food, music, writing and everything else that surrounds us. I never reallly recognized a difference between popular and high culture anyway since it's centered around elitist notions of class heirarchy, but that's a whole other ballgame. You could also argue that popular culture is far more important than "high culture" when it comes to the absorption/assimilation of new ethnic groups than high culture simply because of it's omnipresence. And lastly, I cited popular music figures (and food) because those are my areas of expertise. And please don't try to argue that the likes of Tito Puente, Flaco Jimenez, Astor Piazzola, Willie Colon, Willie Bobo, Celia Cruz, Paquito D'Rivera, Carlos Santana, Mongo Santamaria, Perez Prado and Richie Valens are not hugely important figures in American popular music or I'll have to have you taken away.

But you seem to be singing "We Are The World." You must be hungry. How about some ropa vieja and a nice cafelito?
posted by jonmc at 7:04 PM on April 19, 2004


I think that the "Palatine Boors" would actually be a good name for a rock and roll band.

Note how 111 runs away whenever people refute his arguments with actual facts.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:17 PM on April 19, 2004


chaz: I'm confused - how is Mexican culture (which is generally thought of as a fusion of Spanish and Meso-American Native culture, as well as other influences) younger than American (as in the United States)? Spain established its colonies the earliest of any of the European powers, and was dominant in the region throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as it was through much of Europe. History as taught in Anglo North America is decidedly biased in favour of the history of a small and, at the time, economically marginal island kingdom and its few struggling colonies. We probably also underplay the Spanish political and cultural dominance in Europe through the early modern period because England had been alienated from the Spanish empire after the death of Mary I.

As for the United States, it may have established its independence earlier the Mexican republic (dates anyone?), but that does not date its culture; good arguments that much of what is thought of as quintessentially American culture (including that of the western 3/4 of the country) actually developed through the great waves of migration and settlement in the nineteenth century. I thought the point made by MattD and others, about how American culture is a creation of all groups in the country - English, Germans, Africans, Natives, French, Creoles, Spanish and Mexicans, Scotch, Irish, Dutch, Russian, Chinese - and the endless list that goes on - was the most accurate.

Also, I always find it very funny how so many Americans like 111 to claim this special "Anglo-American" liberal heritage. I am an anglophone Canadian who studies British history and culture for a living; I spent last summer there, living with English students, and I could see plainly that English culture is nothing like American. They have culture shock here - the UK is more a part of Europe than it will ever be a part of North America.

But more to the point, liberalism is only one strand of British culture, among many competing world-views, including socialism and classic Tory conservatism (aristocratic paternalistic conservatism, for anyone unfamiliar). Locke, who advocated for tolerance, was English; so was Gordon, who instigated riots against the Catholics in London in 1780. And they did, after all, fight a war to stop the American colonies from having their own Parliaments equal to that in Westminster. I really like Britain - I think it is a fascinating place with a complex and varied history, which is why I study it. But I would never assume its history or heritage is so simple.

And for the record, as the first person to comment, I did read all 12 pages of the original link. And it was fascinating, in the fashion of any intellectual train wreck.
posted by jb at 7:46 PM on April 19, 2004


It does seem that there is a critical logical inconsistency here. "Anglo American" culture is great because of a bunch of people who lived and wrote before the United States became a political entity, but "Hispanic" culture divorced from Averroes (who was the primary literary and philosophical father of St. Augustine), Goya and Cervantes. We can hold the Romans in high esteem but forget that Spain was the last redoubt of Roman culture. (With the Irish monistary system as sort of cultural gurella terrorists, preserving Roman Christianity for a "Holy Roman Empire" that was neither Holy, Roman, or and Empire.)

111: When do they cease to be limited then? Do I have to live with african pygmies for twenty-eight years before I'm duly entitled to reach the conclusion that potable water and french literature are irreplaceable items?

Which is interesting given how much of the territory occupied by pygmies is a former French colony. There is a straw man here. I don't know of many multiculturalists who would argue that French literature and potable water are not good things.

In regards to what would happen if we let Hispanics run things. At least my experience is that North American Hispanics are extremely hard workers who don't take anything for granted and tend to be loyal to family and tradition, sometimes to a fault. My experience-based prejudice is that the Latinization of America is probably a good thing.

Of course, history repeats its self. There is very little being said about contemporary Estados Unidos Hispanics that my blue-blood Puritan ancestors didn't say about my Irish and German ancestors. (And yes, I can lay claim to both Colonial and Ellis Island heritage.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:46 PM on April 19, 2004


jonmc: coffee originated in North Africa. As for the Americas, the 4th and 5th continents to see the drink, some gringos introduced it there.
posted by shoos at 9:54 PM on April 19, 2004


Oh yeah, you said "coffee" and "hot chocolate" both. So, yeah, you half right, aren't you! I myself sometimes do find it useful to hedge my arguments that way.
posted by shoos at 9:57 PM on April 19, 2004



The impact of Mexican immigration on the United States becomes evident when one imagines what would happen if Mexican immigration abruptly stopped. The annual flow of legal immigrants would drop by about 175,000, closer to the level recommended by the 1990s Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by former U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Illegal entries would diminish dramatically. The wages of low-income U.S. citizens would improve. Debates over the use of Spanish and whether English should be made the official language of state and national governments would subside. Bilingual education and the controversies it spawns would virtually disappear, as would controversies over welfare and other benefits for immigrants. The debate over whether immigrants pose an economic burden on state and federal governments would be decisively resolved in the negative. The average education and skills of the immigrants continuing to arrive would reach their highest levels in U.S. history.


i didn't read all 12 pages. but rather then argue the merits of hispanic culture, the focus should be on the financial and environmental impact of both legal and illegal immigration.

p.s - although i disagree with 111, i don't think Sidhedevil should resort to insults and name calling.
posted by jessica at 12:41 AM on April 20, 2004


111 can be said to have logic in the same sense that cow shit can be said to have a bouquet.
posted by signal at 9:09 AM on April 20, 2004


Oh no!!

I've been outed!

I'm a Bubba bigot! (or so jonmc tells me)

Thanks for the vote of confidence dude! Jonmc, please do carry on in your superior attitude as you continue to effectively savage what would appear to be a true bigot/racist. Never mind little ole' me who happens to think racist and ignorant bubbas need a clue.
posted by nofundy at 9:19 AM on April 20, 2004


Noticeably, you response does not try to refute anything I said, but rather parrots some rather tired cliches. You're the one who seems to have a superior attitude since you have the need to balme the bubbas of the world for racism rather than those with actual power.

Never mind little ole' me who happens to think racist and ignorant bubbas need a clue.

All racists need a clue but so do you, you walking cliche.
posted by jonmc at 9:29 AM on April 20, 2004


SpaceCadet says :-

It [Japan] deliberately closed the doors on foreigners (well apart from a few ports for trading) and it didn't fester and fade away.

tittergrrl says :-

you are somewhat incorrect regarding the Edo period of Japan which, admittedly, I am no where near an expert on. HOWEVER, doing some quick google searches, the Edo period was not completely closed off to outsiders.

tittergrrl, you could have saved all your googling and longwinded post if you'd actually read what I said. Read the bold bit above.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2004


tittergrrl, my point is that a culture can evolve on it's own. It doesn't need to celebrate multiculturism in order to survive. Are you trying to suggest that any isolated culture (e.g. island cultures) all fester and fade away?
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:49 AM on April 20, 2004


Well good morning everybody. How are my little mellonfarming darlings today?

See, if I really wanted to troll or insult, as more than one of you have just done, that's what I'd be saying. Now without further ado, let me briefly mention the gaps separating me from some of you folks:

-I believe in high culture as opposed to low culture;
-I believe in a Western tradition as opposed to a global, multicultural tradition; while Mexico, like Latin America, is very much part of the West, its culture is thus far secondary when compared to the tradition stemming from the Hebrew prophets and the Parthenon onwards;
-I have lived in different parts of the world long enough to have a realistic opinion about them;
-I agree that most hispanics work hard, but so far that's all. I don't really rank la macarena, Celia Cruz and guacamole as major developments in the history of humankind.

Sidhedevil, Re Ben Franklin, I can understand how he felt and hey, if he had reasons to be cautious about uncontrolled german migration, why can't Samuel Huntington be cautious about hispanics? I just read a news article quoting an interview with ex-chancellor Helmut Schmidt (social-democrat, btw) were he said he was quite pessimistic about the possibilities of integration between muslims and germans. All in all, remember Ben Franklin was talking about very specific circumstances. I love Aristotle, but if I were to take 100 % of what he wrote as the eternal incontrovertible truth I would not even address you at all.

Finally, this little discussion of ours can be summed up to the following issue: if radical Muslims feel entitled to savagely kill thousands of people just to expel Jews from the Gaza Strip and American troops from Saudi Arabia, and if South American indians freely slaughter dozens of miners just to "defend their territory", why shouldn't Huntington voice his unease with excessive, uncontrolled migration trends as well? If all races are equal, all are equally entitled to speak up and defend their standards. I say people of jewish and caucasian origin have been too passive and bovine, and I do think it's in everybody's interest to stop demographic floods which are not qualitative, thereby giving everyone, rich and poor, white and nonwhite, similar rights and responsibilities.
posted by 111 at 10:00 AM on April 20, 2004


the UK is more a part of Europe than it will ever be a part of North America.

....so true. Being from the UK, I definitely do not associate myself with the US.

there is an appalling lack of Manchester United jerseys in the gift shops

skoosh, even though you've only been to the airport, you actually have more experience of Manchester than 99% of Man U fans.

In regards to what would happen if we let Hispanics run things. At least my experience is that North American Hispanics are extremely hard workers who don't take anything for granted and tend to be loyal to family and tradition, sometimes to a fault. My experience-based prejudice is that the Latinization of America is probably a good thing.

I agree, as long as the liberals don't start telling them how oppressed they are.
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:07 AM on April 20, 2004


America, is very much part of the West, its culture is thus far secondary when compared to the tradition stemming from the Hebrew prophets and the Parthenon onwards;
Then trust in the Lord, not man as he has feet of clay and is not All Knowing.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:11 AM on April 20, 2004


It gets me all excited when you call me names jonmc.

Do it some more please, you powerful intellect you!

I happen to agree with many of your assertions but disagree that racist bubba should get a free pass and only blame "the man" for his actions and attitudes.
Personal responsibility and all you know.
(Oops, was that a cliche? Busted again. :-( )
Come on, call me names you bad boy.
posted by nofundy at 10:54 AM on April 20, 2004


No that would only validate your persecution complex. But I will say that people like you give more reasonable thinkers a much tougher row to hoe.

I happen to agree with many of your assertions but disagree that racist bubba should get a free pass and only blame "the man" for his actions and attitudes.

I give nobody a free pass. But it's not Bubba who redlines maginal neighborhoods, decides who gets hired and fired and who dictates policy in this country. And Bubba, what ever color he may be, has legitamite gripes, which get ignored in simpleminded caricatures.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on April 20, 2004


"Cómo los Anglos se convirtieron en Latinos," dude.

Don't blame me, blame Babelfish! I'm just a whitey, and not even a USian whitey in point of fact, or a Protestant-Saxon Whitey, so what do I know?

As far as I'm concerned, WASP culture is a barbarian culture, a fundamentally expanionist and greedy culture formed of a forcible fusion of Germanic tribes with Gallo-Roman Franks. Because your ancestors feasted on the spoils of the western Roman Empire and moved into their houses and used their (stolen) cutlery, you like to pretend you're descended from some great Graeco-Roman tradition but this is just bunk. The true heirs of the Roman Empire are the successor states throughout the former Eastern Roman Empire: the Greeks, the Romanians, the Hungarians, the Turks and the Arabs. English is a creole language made up of the uneasy mating of French and German.

Yes, I am Irish and pretty much all of our ancient culture is obsessed with tales concerning cattle rustling and female abduction. So, again I say, what do I know?
posted by meehawl at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2004


So I am not a reasonable thinker huh?
That's a start.
Now tell me more.

Is it because I'm less enlightened than you?
Perhaps less educated?
Because I enjoy crude satirical means for delivering a message that even Bubba can understand?
Did I insult your haircut or something? (It's OK, I like mullets too)
I just need love just like Bubba, so come on and give me the lash of your sharp tongue so I know you care. Call me more names!
posted by nofundy at 11:31 AM on April 20, 2004


Bubba - not necessarily poor white trash male.
Examples of other bubbas woudl be Richard Mellon Scaife, Harold Ahmanson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, George W. Bush.
But they are all "white" and racist in their tiny little hearts, just like their white trash "bubba" country cousins.

Attempts to divide the proles along lines other than where the real division occurs, economics.
posted by nofundy at 11:38 AM on April 20, 2004


Dude, you said something, I refuted you. Get over it.

And I'm willing to bet that I'm less "educated" than you are.
posted by jonmc at 11:38 AM on April 20, 2004


As far as I'm concerned, WASP culture is a barbarian culture...Yes, I am Irish.

Yeah. WASP culture is horrible and unenlightened. That's why the Irish have to visit the barbarians to terminate a pregnancy.

If Irish is such a great language, why is it used almost exclusively by grandmothers and remote farmers? And name a natural language that isn't an amalgam of the ones that came before it.

Face it-- every culture is just as great and just as ugly as the next.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:40 AM on April 20, 2004


On your second statement, you basically said the same thing I said, and yet you're still chompin' my ass. If someone you basically agree with is getting impatient with you, you might stop to wonder whether your "crude satirical means" are working that well.
posted by jonmc at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2004


111: I agree that most hispanics work hard, but so far that's all. I don't really rank la macarena, Celia Cruz and guacamole as major developments in the history of humankind.

Right, that's fine. Just don't compare contemporary Latin American pop culture to European High Renaissance culture, with the implication that the latter is what Anglo-American culture is all about. If you're going to mention guacamole and "La Macarena", then compare it to cheeseburgers and "The Locomotion", not Handel and Raphael. If you're going to a) distinguish Anglo-American culture from Latin American culture, and b) defend the former as superior to the latter, then talk about the achievements of the former, not the achievements of their mutual cultural ancestors.

Also, since you distinguish low and high culture, you need to compare high to high, not high to low, if you want your argument to be taken seriously. I should warn you, though - this means acknowledging the existence of high culture in Latin America. Art, literature, the whole bit. Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Castañeda, Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa - these are names you should be familiar with. They are world-class literary figures, and their contribution to arts and letters is, I daresay, more significant than "The Ketchup Song".

if radical Muslims feel entitled to savagely kill thousands of people just to expel Jews from the Gaza Strip and American troops from Saudi Arabia, and if South American indians freely slaughter dozens of miners just to "defend their territory", why shouldn't Huntington voice his unease with excessive, uncontrolled migration trends as well?

Strawmen, and bad ones at that. No one's arguing about any of this. Also, all of the above cases can be distinguished from the one actually being discussed. Email me and I'd be happy to tell you how.

Huntington can voice his unease all he wants, but he's wrong; migration trends are not "excessive", the United States and its institutions are not under any serious threat from immigration, and Huntington's unease stems from an irrational xenophobic prejudice. His prejudice is all the more irrational because it plays upon exactly the same kind of hysteria that was focused against numerous immigrant groups throughout American history, none of which has yet caused the Republic to fall. Yes, we may eat more salsa and corn chips as a result, but so what? Why is that so much more alien and unacceptable than frankfurters, french fries, or ramen?

If all races are equal, all are equally entitled to speak up and defend their standards.

Race is unreal. Cultures have a fuzzy, indistinct reality at best. Certainly, neither can be said to have agency enough to advocate or enact policy. Also, the United States is a civil state, not a nation-state. If you want a nation where citizenship is based on ancient bloodlines, go to Japan, or Germany. You won't find it here; in fact, you won't find it anywhere in the Americas.

I say people of jewish and caucasian origin have been too passive and bovine, and I do think it's in everybody's interest to stop demographic floods which are not qualitative, thereby giving everyone, rich and poor, white and nonwhite, similar rights and responsibilities.

What do you mean by "not qualitative"? Also, when you say that "people of Jewish and Caucasian origin" have been "too passive", immediately after citing Hamas suicide bombers and other murderers as apparent models of behavior, what are you implying should be "people of Jewish and Caucasian origin['s]" course of action?

On preview: People, people! Let's not let this thread disintegrate any more than it has to. Flamewars are dumb; and there's nothing wrong with Irish or British culture that couldn't be resolved with a stern talking-to.
posted by skoosh at 12:38 PM on April 20, 2004


On preview: nofundy, I know it's satisfying to make bubba your personal "other" to hate, but don't try to pretend that your simpleminded epithets and prejudice are contributing anything of substance here.
posted by jonmc at 10:38 AM PST on April 19


getting impatient with you

Seems you started of dismissive and insulting to someone who basically agreed with you and they were pointing that out to you.

Dude, you said something, I refuted you. Get over it.
Your refutations need work. You might stop to wonder whether your own crude manners are working that well since I'm "still chomping" your ass. Get over it. You start on me, I'll respond. Look in the mirror.

I'm willing to bet that I'm less "educated" than you are.

I would be willing to concede that point. Again, a satirical statement regarding educational achievement. (translated: not serious but poking fun)
posted by nofundy at 12:41 PM on April 20, 2004


every culture is just as great and just as ugly as the next.

My point exactly. Welcome to Satire Land, enjoy your stay.
posted by meehawl at 2:06 PM on April 20, 2004


skoosh, the writers you mention do not compare to Thomas Mann, Joyce, Don DeLillo, Proust et al. Castaneda must be a little joke of yours, of course.

What do you mean by "not qualitative"?
People with working skills and clean records, for example: qualitative.

Like Bob Dylan, I pity the poor immigrant, but I'm also aware of his shortcomings. I also find the liberal lie about the "white oppressor" repugnant and destructive. Finally, I think it's very important to cherish and give special value to those cultures without which civilization would not have been possible at all.
posted by 111 at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2004


111, the writers you mention do not compare to Danielle Steele, Stephen King, John Grisham et. al.

See how easy that is. I didn't even need to use reason.

Seriously, can you give me one reason why Don DeLillo is a more important writer than Octavio Paz?
posted by bashos_frog at 3:13 PM on April 20, 2004


111, the writers you mention do not compare to Danielle Steele, Stephen King, John Grisham et. al.

If you're talking about Vargas Llosa et al, I agree completely. That's why I said they're middlebrow.

Seriously, can you give me one reason why Don DeLillo is a more important writer than Octavio Paz?

Never mind the fact that DeLillo writes with beauty and clarity, not to mention a complete sense of restraint and self-effacement. After 9/11, do I even have to say it? Honest, have you ever read one single DeLillo book in your life? I say you didn't read at least Players, Underworld and Cosmopolis.
When I was in college, Paz was quite fashionable as an essayist on genre, literature and national character, but who even knows he exists these days? To be completely fair to him, I quote from memory a beautiful phrase from Los Hijos del Limo: to think is to breathe.
Breathe, my friend.

(151 comments- about 100 must have been mine. Tough luck, señor Howie)
posted by 111 at 3:37 PM on April 20, 2004


Latin American Authors - A starting point.

Rubén Dário
Jorge Luis Borges
Alejo Carpentier
Guillermo Cabrera Infante
Severo Sarduy
Reinaldo Arenas
Pablo Neruda
Octavio Paz
César Vallejo
Miguel Angel Asturias
José Lezama Lima
José Donoso
Julio Cortázar
Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Mario Vargas Llosa
Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Drummond de Andrade
I wish I had time to get links :-(

And for 111, qualitative means "relating to or involving comparisons based on qualities" - it does not mean "of high quality."

Learn your own damn language before criticizing the importance of works that need to be translated and spoon fed to you before you can even follow the plot.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:37 PM on April 20, 2004


This is the sort of writing, full of brand names and wardrobe inventories, that critics like to praise as an "edgy" take on the insanity of modern American life. It's hard to see what is so edgy about describing suburbia as a wasteland of stupefied shoppers, which is something left-leaning social critics have been doing since the 1950s. Still, this is foolproof subject matter for a novelist of limited gifts.

...the book ... is an act of literary vandalism and bad citizenship.

While those of us who live in the real America carry on with our richly varied, emotionally tumultuous lives, DeLillo (as White Noise amply demonstrates) continues, in effect, to write the same lifeless novel over and over again--a novel contructed upon a simpleminded political cliche, populated by epigram-slinging, epistemology-happy robots, and packed with words that have very little to say to us about our world, our century, or ourselves. If anyone is guilty of turning modern Americans into xerox copies, it is Don DeLillo.


Nothing against DeLillo personally, but it seems your arguments, like those above, are merely a matter of taste. I could say that Paz' poetry is more beautiful than DeLillo's prose, but it is a meaningless statement to anyone but me.

...who even knows he exists these days?
Well, unlike DeLillo, he is dead, so 'exists' should perhaps be 'existed.'
Is great literature a popularity contest? How many people know that Aeschylus existed? Or Sophocles - he's the guy that drank hemlock right? Right?

Ahh... feeding time is over - I've got to get to work.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:00 PM on April 20, 2004


My own two cents:
-Neruda is sugary, populist garbage that should be avoided like the very plague.
-Borges and Vargas Llosa are quite readable.
-Garcia Marquez is uneven. Ultimately, it's Love and Rockets and little else.
-Carpentier:Baroque Concert is good-- a little like a dream.
-Cortazar: wrote, imho, one of the best short stories ever but little else of notice.
-Paz: turgid, effete poet; turgid, sparsely interesting critic.
-Drummond: horribly self-pitying poet.

Latin American literature is second rate at best.

For 111, qualitative does not mean "relating to or involving comparisons based on qualities". It means simply "involving quality or kind".
Google on, it does a body good. But try reading the books eventually.

ps: Shakespeare is dead too, but schoolchildren and drunkards in Britain can quote the sonnets and plays from memory. How about Paz? What kind of relevance does he have today?
posted by 111 at 4:08 PM on April 20, 2004


PARA UN POETA
Quiso cantar, cantar
para olvidar
su vida verdadera de mentiras
y recordar
su mentirosa vida de verdades.
-Octavio Paz
posted by bashos_frog at 4:09 PM on April 20, 2004


"...demographic floods which are not involving quality or kind...?"
huh?
posted by bashos_frog at 4:12 PM on April 20, 2004


Have we really gotten to the point where quotability by schoolchildren and drunkards is the measure of greatness? 'Cause I know almost all the words to "Oops I Did It Again." And I may or may not be drunk.
posted by purplemonkie at 4:18 PM on April 20, 2004


demographic floods which are not based on quality...

Nowfor a quick comparison to Paz:

XIV

Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck;
And yet methinks I have Astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself, to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.

(You see, I don't have to say who wrote this one.)
posted by 111 at 4:21 PM on April 20, 2004


Reporter to Mahatma Ghandi: "Mr Ghandi, what do you think of Western Civilization?"
Ghandi: "I think it would be a good idea".

posted by meehawl at 4:49 PM on April 20, 2004


111, That is the worst haiku I have ever heard. Overly long, with a weird distracting rhythm to the words, and an annoying tendency to rhyme.

Oh, I was supposed to judge it according to your standards?

Really, comparing Shakespeare to Paz is like comparing Shakespeare to DeLillo. Try comparing Shakespeare to Cervantes, to Kobayashi Issa, or to Omar Khayyam for example.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:01 PM on April 20, 2004


I say people of jewish and caucasian origin have been too passive

posted by 111 at 10:00 AM PST on April 20


but... they took over the world. They're the masters.

Too passive?
posted by Miles Long at 9:03 PM on April 20, 2004


Too passive?

I'd say it was luck and happenstance more than anything else.

The book below explains how the European expansion project benefitted from a Eurasian "portmanteau biota" that displaced other systems in favour of itself. It's notable that the pre-modern Euro expansions only succeeded when they went from areas of high population density to low population density. For example, the Crusades colonization project failed, despite mobilizing several million people. By comparison, the next expansion project, into the Canaries, succeeded to the point of eliminating every last native of those islands.

Ecological Imperialism : The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900

But a displacing biota advantage did not exist when it came to the Middle East, India, China, and Brazil. Here, the European colonial powers benefitted from a once-in-a-century El Nino event that created astonishingly arid conditions which the colonial powers exploited to the fullest to engineer massive genocidal and destabilizing famines. Their recent weakness has to be seen as an atypical, contingent, and temporary development. Only today are China and India recovering from the devastation of those years and the occupations that followed. Within another couple of generations, it seems, they have a good probability of regaining their historical positions within the global economy.

Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World
posted by meehawl at 10:56 PM on April 20, 2004


My own two cents:

- 111: turgid, histrionic MeFite who thinks asserting an opinion is the same as proving an argument.

111's reasoning is second rate at best.
posted by gompa at 11:19 AM on April 21, 2004


Meehawl - that is a terrific book. I second the recommendation for anyone interested in recent world history.
posted by jb at 9:39 PM on April 21, 2004


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