Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Praise of Jeb Bush...

. Wednesday, January 19, 2011

... And against Samuel Huntington. I'm completely with Ezra Klein on this one:

America has not just assimilated, but actively benefited from, many previous waves of immigration. If you're to oppose Hispanic immigration, you have to somehow explain why you won't look, in 30 years, like the people who were hanging "No Irish Need Apply" signs on their storefronts, or like Benjamin Franklin, who said of the Germans immigrating to Philadelphia, that they "are generally the most stupid of their nation." And plenty of people, including notable political scientists like the late Samuel Huntington, have been trying:

Americans like to boast of their past success in assimilating millions of immigrants into their society, culture, and politics. But Americans have tended to generalize about immigrants without distinguishing among them and have focused on the economic costs and benefits of immigration, ignoring its social and cultural consequences. As a result, they have overlooked the unique characteristics and problems posed by contemporary Hispanic immigration. The extent and nature of this immigration differ fundamentally from those of previous immigration, and the assimilation successes of the past are unlikely to be duplicated with the contemporary flood of immigrants from Latin America.

Huntington offers a couple of hypotheses for why this might be: Hispanics are characterized by a "lack of ambition," and they are so geographically close to their home country that they won't have sufficient incentive to assimilate, to name but two. But these hypotheses aren't being borne out: Hispanic immigrants are following the patterns of past immigrants fairly closely, and in some cases, outdoing them. We need more American politicians pointing this out. Good for Bush.


In Praise of Jeb Bush...
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