Is America a culture or an idea? This is a question that has occupied many of our leading intellectuals at least since the re-founding of our country beginning in the period immediately preceding the Civil War. We don’t typically think of ourselves as a single people as the Germans or French do (although my friends in the paleoconservative movement would take issue with this). It is our ideas that are said to be binding and that generate our homogeneity, and our creed has always made room for a plurality of subcultures. But as I pointed out in my June 2000 essay on The American Proposition, there are reasons to worry about whether or not we can sustain a consensus on the critical ideas that have produced the distinctly American culture. According to census results, California will soon become the largest proving ground for our experiment in assimilation, for it is now the first large state in which non-Hispanic whites are no longer a majority, a real test for the region from which many of our social and political trends originate. Many thoughtful people feel strongly that we can’t have immigration from non-Western countries on the scale the U. S. has received over the past 30 years and get assimilation as a result, even if we don’t discourage it with bilingual education, affirmative action, and the multicultural agenda, which we are doing. There is much more to be said about multiculturalism as the antithesis of the ideas that have sustained this culture, but for now we need to consider that when new immigration, coupled with multicultural ideology, undercuts these ideas, it’s time for a pause.
You are here: / / A Culture Or An Idea?