– October 31, 1994
Ethnic militancy and solidarity are on the rise in the United States; the old institutions of assimilation are not doing their work…
Proposition 187 “is an outrage. It is unconstitutional. It is nativist. It is racist”–Al Hunt, Capital Gang, CNN.
That outburst by my columust colleague, about California’s Prop 187–which would cut off social welfare benefits to illegal aliens — suggests that this savage quarrel is about more than just money. Indeed, the roots of this dispute over Prop.187 are grounded in the warring ideas that we Americans hold about the deepest, most divisive issues of our time: ethnicity, nation, culture.
What do we want the America of the years 2000, 2020 and 2050 to be like? Do we have the right to shape the character of the country our grandchildren will live in? Or is that to be decided by whoever, outside America, decides to come here?
By 2050, we are instructed by the chancellor of the University of Caifornia at Berkeley, Chang Lin-Tin, “the majority of Americans will trace their roots to Latin America, Africa. Asia, the Middle East and Pacific Islands.”
Now, any man or woman, of any nation or ancestory can come here –and become a good American.
We know that from our history. But by my arithmetic, the chancellor is saying Hispanics, Asians and Afncans will increase their present number of 65 million by at least 100 million in 60 years, a population growth larger than all of Mexico today.
What will that mean for America? Well, South Texas and Southern California will be almost exclusively Hispanic. Each will have tens of millions of people whose linguistic, historic and cultural roots are in Mexico. Like Eastern Ukraine, where 10 million Russian-speaking “Ukrainians” now look impatiently to Moscow, not Kiev, as their cultural capital, America could see, in a decade, demands for Quebeclike status for Southern California. Already there is a rumbling among militants for outright seccession. A sea of Mexican flags was prominent in that LA. rally against Prop. 187, and Mexican officials are openly urging their kinsmen in California to vote it down.
If no cutoff is imposed on social benefits for those who breach our borders, and break our laws, the message will go out to a desperate world: America is wide open. All you need do is get there, and get in.
Consequences will ensue. Crowding together immigrant and minority populations in our major cities must bring greater conflict. We saw that in the 1992 L.A. riot. Blacks and Hispanics have lately collided in D.C.’s Adams-Morgan neighborhood, supposedly the most tolerant and progressive section of Washington. The issue: bilingual education. Unlike 20 years ago, ethnic conflict is today on almost every front page
Before Mr. Chang’s vision is realized, the United States will have at least two official languages. Todays steady outmigration of “Anglos” or “Euro-Americans,” as whites are now called, from Southern florida and Southern California, will continue. The 50 states will need constant redrawing of political lines to ensure proportional representation. Already we have created the first “apartheid districts” in America’s South.
Ethlic militancy and solidarity are on the rise in the United States; the old institutions of assimilation are not doing their work as they once did; the Melting Pot is in need of repair. On campuses we hear demands for separate dorms, eating rooms, clubs,etc, by black, white, Hispanic and Asian students. If this is where the campus is headed, where are our cities going?
If America is to survive as “one nation, one people” we need to call a “time-out” on immigration, to assimilate the tens of millions who have lately arrived. We need to get to know one another, to live together, to learn together America’s language, history, culture and traditions of tolerance, to become a new national family, before we add a hundred million more. And we need soon to bring down the curtain on this idea of hyphenated-Americanism.
If we lack the course to make the decisions–as to what our country will look like in 2050 — others wiIl make those decisions for us, not all of whom share our love of the America that seems to be fading away.