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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2005
Samuel P Huntington - Professor and Chairman of the Harvard Academy of International and Area Studies - is best known for his groundbreaking and prescient book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order" wherein he argues that in the post-Cold War era there will be conflicts of cultures rather than ideologies. To an extent this has proven to be the case. In the present volume - "Who Are We: The Challenges to American Identity" - he predicts similar conflicts unfolding domestically inside America's borders. The clash of civilizations within, as it were.

And what is the American national identity that Huntington claims is being challenged? He asserts that our national identity consists of two components: Anglo-Protestant culture and the American creed. Anglo-Protestant core culture is uniquely American and it is the foundation upon which the more universal principles of the American creed are based. He believes that the unique aspects of this identity are central to our national survival.

Anglo-Protestant culture has been central to the American identity for three centuries. It was originally established by dissident Protestants from England who valued individualism, had a healthy suspicion of government, had a vigorous work ethic, believed in voluntary associations and who had a crusading moralism tempered by tolerance. They were united by the English language and English legal tradtions. These were the salient features of the core culture upon which the creed rests. America would have been very different had it been settled by French or Spanish Catholics.

The American creed, the second component, consists of principles to which all can subscribe: liberty, equality, civil rights, nondiscrimination, justice, and rule of law - all the elements of a liberal democracy. Huntington believes that even though the elements of the creed are universal their American manifestation are an outgrowth of our singular Anglo-Protestant core culture and not transferable everywhere.

Huntington believes that this unique American national identity is being challenge at both ends of the social spectrum.

At one end of the spectrum are the liberal elites who are becoming increasingly denationalized with their doctrines of multiculturalism and globalization. "...American elite groups, business, financial, intellectual, professional and governmental were becoming denationalized and developing transnational and cosmopolitan identities superseding their national ones."

Obviously leaders of multinational corporations and international organizations must deemphasize their national identity when conducting their business. Being a nationalist chauvanist on the world stage would be counterproductive and offensive. Huntington's argument here is mainly against the mulitculturalism encourged by the elites. The irony is that the cultural elites derive mainly from the Anglo-Protestant tradition. Are the elites trying to make it a global culture? Or are other cultures at the same time transforming Anglo-Protestantism? I think both are the case and that Huntington may be on a fool's errand to get in the way of this two-way traffic.

On the other end of the spectrum America's national identity is being challenged by immigration. Huntington claims that the large influx of immigrants from Latin America - especially Mexico - is different from previous waves of immigration. The Mexican immigration poses at threat not only for the numbers involved (23 million and counting), but the fact that they are concentrated in states and cities close to our mutual border. With low rates of assimilation, bilingualism, and dual citizenships, Huntington believes they could make territorial claims in the future.

Huntington, I think, misreads the Mexican immigrant for numerous reasons. Primarily, Mexican immigrants want to "commit themselves" to "Anglo-Protestant culture" as defined by Huntington. They are dedicated to the work ethic, they seek to learn English, they become members of the armed forces, and after the second and third generations they intermarry, go to college, and speak only English just like "ordinary Americans."

Their assimilation is actually very similar to that of the southern Italians and East European Jews of an earlier generation, only the scale is different.

Huntington has written an important book that poses some serious questions about American national identity. He is somewhat alarmist about the transformation of the Anglo-Protestant culture of yesteryear. However, I believe American culture is always evolving and becoming more inclusive. Multiculturalism and cosmpolitanism reaches out and incorporates more diverse groups into the American identity, making it less dependent on race, ethnicity, and religion. The important ingredient is creed; everyone must believe in the creed which is central to American identity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2013
The book is pretty repetitive on a subject and mostly can be considered as kind of wide stroke of paintbrush of the american history. Main ideas that are around traditional american culture and the waives of change. The biggest author concern is about creeping Mexican immigration and discrepancy between elite cultural priority and the rest of the population. Coming back to the painting language the book makes your fill like you are looking at the huge painting from the short distance and the picture got you inside. Book explains some principles of culture changes and reasons why.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2013
Samuel Huntington fizzles in this book about America's "Hispanic Challenge" with regards to the Clash of Civilizations. He argues that America is an Anglo-Protestant country and Catholic/Mestizo Immigration is an attack on the fundamental core of America.

However he does this in an incoherent way, he holds his punches, and mutes what should be red-alert alarm bells. Huntington ultimately disappoints with this inchoate mish-mash. A big drop off from the clear sighted, Clash of Civilizations book that made Huntington a household name.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2005
Professor Huntington attempted to tackle a most complex question here. The question of 'who are we?' gets to core of any nation's legitimacy and chances for survival: how do its peoples perceive themselves and each other, and thus interact?

Huntington falls short, primarily because he does not dig deep enough. For example, defining the founding fathers as WASPs misses the point. Some were in fact, quietly, deists, and their ancestors were in turn Catholics and then pagans. Were they Anglo-Saxons? Well, no. They were English, who themselves were part Roman after years of occupation. The "WASP" is a twentieth-century construct. Who are Hispanics, in turn? A mixture of Spanish conquistadors, Mayans, peublos, and so on.

One thing anyone who is defined as a WASP knows today, however, is that resentment for the success -- and misdeeds -- of their ancestors has built to a crisis point. Now anyone associated with the Establishment, whether Anglo or Italian or Polish -- is considered the "old" America which "ought" to be replaced by the "new." This will bring "social justice." Of course, as with any ideology, those in the future who are deemed "out" of the "in" culture will be subject to the cultural whims of the elite, and everyone likely would suffer, even the new elite. One of the naive assumptions made by multiculturalists is that when one culture is torn down, the other simply sits on the top of the mountain instead. Smooth, easy, simple. Naive.

Huntington acknowledges this risk in a brief passage, but that's it.

Also, ironically, he seems to advocate mass immigration and cultural upheaval. In Forward xvii he writes: "(regarding the) Anglo-Protestant culture and creed...If that commitment is sustained, America will still be America long after the WASPish descendants of its founders have become a small and uninfluential minority." So, he believes that minorities in the future should have no influence? There goes the "Anglo-Protestant" culture of respect for minorities. In this way, I think his arguments go around in circles. For a country still majority white and Protestant, what would the population need to be in order to make these decendants a "small" minority? Over a billion? How would this happen? Mass third-world immigration, or some kind of "cleansing" pogrom? Who would be targeted in such atrocities?

Chilling stuff here, but he never really dives in. Too bad. Someone should, for the benefit of all.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2013
i needed this book for a class at school, information in the book was good but it was also boring
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5 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2005
Exactly of what is Huntington afraid? America has a uniquely flexible culture capable of absorbing ever more diversity. That is a magnificent achievement. Will America implode one day? Yes, every other similiarly powerful country in human history has. Will diversity contribute to its destruction? It's quite possible. Meanwhile, however, we should enjoy the ride and thank god we don't live in a country like Iran.
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6 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2004
From the perspective of Central Europe, Prof. Huntington writes nothing new. He invented the word of the "Homo Davos". Most American leaders don`t seem to me integrated in the global community. It seems they have their own parallel universe. That is how they are, Prof. Huntington!
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5 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2006
I have read 'The Clash of Civilizations' few years ago, and it didnt make sense to me at that time. Of course after 9/11 the picture became clear. The Clash of Civilizations was the bible of US foreign policy during Bush Administration. Of course the book was faulty in theory and now it is clear how in practice the Bush Adminstration is suffering.

This applies for this book in hand. It is focused internally. I dont claim that I undestand the US internal politics. However, I can see from this book that the current governing minority senses a threat from a growing minority 'Hispanics', which will shift the power balance in the coming 10-20 years.

Again, the book theory doesn't make sense. It profess discrimination under new political titles by doing the following:

- He differentiate between immigrants based on the period of immigration, to conclude that since the early immigrants founded US then they have more rights to shape its future.

- He differentiates between immigrants based on their original cultures and relgion. Since US was founded by Anglo Protestant immigrants, it should continue with a storng Anglo Protestnat culture.

Any political leader who adopts this books theories will take US to a path of civil war.
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