“The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves – from Los Angeles to Miami – and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.”
– “The Hispanic Challenge” by Samuel P. Huntington, Foreign Policy March/April 2004
Behold! The Unassimilated Hispanic Menace!
As you can see, Athena is quite busy rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values all around her. Oh sure, she looks like she’s enjoying the Easter egg hunt. But inside she’s a raging cauldron of racial hate! Soon she will dash these eggs to the ground! La Raza! La Raza! Of course she refuses to speak English at home. She speaks only Spanish! It’s a little troublesome, since the only words she knows in Spanish are the numbers from one to 15, but if you think that’s stopping her, you just don’t understand the recalcitrant nature of The Unassimilated Hispanic Menace! On your knees, White America!
Yes, in fact, Athena is Mexican. She’s also American Indian, Italian, Irish, Welsh, English, German, French and Dutch. She’s got a grandmother who lives in Mexico — my mother, actually, who has not a drop of Mexican blood in her. My mom’s husband Robert, however, is ethnically Mexican, although when my mother and Robert met, only one of them spoke Spanish, and it wasn’t the guy with brown skin. Seems that Robert’s family had been in California for generations and had, you know, assimilated.
So yes, Athena has ancestors who came from Mexico in the 20th century. She also has ancestors who came from Europe in the 19th century, and 18th, and the 17th. Not mention some that came from Asia, oh, 40 millennia or so ago. She’s got cousins who have ancestors that came from Africa in the bowels of a slave ship and others whose ancestors served in the British Parliament. Honestly, I don’t know how much more assimilated my little Hispanic daughter can get.
Huntington paints a picture of Hispanics as insular, lazy and fundamentally hostile to traditional “American” values, none of which sounds even remotely like the rather substantial number of Hispanic Americans in my family. However, these Hispanics do have a tendency to be family-oriented and religious and culturally engaged, which I understand in white people are generally regarded to be positive values. So maybe I’m confused here.
Maybe I’ve been lulled into a false sense of complacency by my wife’s salsa and my father-in-law’s menudo (my father-in-law, incidentally, of German stock), but I don’t see Hispanics as a threat; I see them as my family. And you can be sure my daughter will know about her Hispanic heritage, just like she’ll know about her European and aboriginal heritage. And she’ll learn that all of those have combined to make her what she is: Uniquely American. Just like all the rest of us.