Saturday, March 18, 2017

Manifest Destiny versus "those babies"
  The culture war threat to California's
  history, folklore, identity and people

Click on image to see a larger version!
The Neoliberal war with multiculturalists in the U.S. gained headlines this week when Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) supported extreme nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilder with this not so eloquent tweet:
King set off a firestorm of simplistic accusations about his racism from the left while other Republicans tripped over themselves to disassociate with King. But King says he is not a racist and he was tweeting on behalf of policies supported by all Republicans.

In response to the firestorm he started, Representative King defended himself on CNN. King argued:
It’s the culture, not the blood.

And if you can go anywhere in the world and adopt these little babies and put them into households that were already assimilated into America, those babies will grow up as American as any other baby with as much patriotism and as much love of country as any other baby.

“It’s not about race,” he added. “It’s never been about race, and in fact, the struggles across this planet, we describe them as race. They’re not race — they’re culture-based. It’s the clash of cultures, not the race.”
King is almost right. In the United States it has become a dispute between those who embrace the American Cultural Melting Pot concept versus those who would prefer the American Cultural Salad Bowl concept. The Wikipedia entry outlines the origins and history of the American Cultural Melting Pot concept, but all we need to know is:
The first use in American literature of the concept of immigrants "melting" into the receiving culture are found in the writings of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. In his Letters from an American Farmer (1782) Crevecoeur writes, in response to his own question, "What then is the American, this new man?" that the American is one who "leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world."
"…whence came all these people? They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes... What, then, is the American, this new man? He is either an European or the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. . . . The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared."
    — J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer
What the son of  the Comte and Comtesse de Crèvecœur and former French Army Lieutenant who fought the British in the  French and Indian War doesn't include in his description are Native Americans or Moors or Asians, just Northern Europeans. Nonetheless, seven years before 1789 and the adoption of the Constitution, we see the term "melted into" to refer to the term "American."

Arguing in 1789 for the adoption of the Constitution, Founding Father John Jay - descended from Protestant Huguenots who had come to New York to escape religious persecution in France - notes in Federalist Papers No. 2:
It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this opinion is erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in union, we ought to seek it in a division....

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people -- a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.

Similar sentiments have hitherto prevailed among all orders and denominations of men among us. To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection.
In this argument intended to create support for one united country, Jay notes the similarity among Americans in ancestry, language, religion, manners and customs as evidence of the strongest ties to avoid splitting our society. But then he notes similar attitudes "among all orders and denominations" among Americans, maybe because he is of French  Huguenot descent not English.

What exactly did he mean? For honest multicultural advocates, it's impossible to bury the reality that the Founding Fathers greatly feared a split within the former colonies. The first Congress of the United States of America in its Second Session, wanting to make the intent very clear, passed the Naturalization Act of 1790 which said (emphasis added):
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled,

That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof on application to any common law Court of record in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such Court that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law to support the Constitution of the United States, which Oath or Affirmation such Court shall administer, and the Clerk of such Court shall record such Application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a Citizen of the United States. And the children of such person so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States. And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens: Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States: Provided also, that no person heretofore proscribed by any States, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid, except by an Act of the Legislature of the State in which such person was proscribed.
Gradually, this fear of a split because of a lack of common heritage was overcome by those teaching about the American Cultural Melting Pot effect. But that was to be undone by the end of the 20th Century by militant advocates for the American Cultural Salad Bowl concept who argue that only their view represents the affirmative moral value of "toleration."

As usual, it is far more complicated. When one fast forwards through 200 years, from 1789 to 1989, we find this eloquent Republican President from California explaining how he saw an America:

As you can hear in the video above, in his "Farewell Address" given from the White House, President Ronald Reagan said (emphasis added):
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind­swept, God-­blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.
Was Reagan referring to a Melting Pot or a multicultural America? There is no doubt...

So there is some irony in this statement from the Democratic President from Georgia he unseated...

Carter used the term "mosaic" used in Canada instead of "salad."  I would ask Carter what do you do when within the salad that looks like this...

...and some of these different vegetables believe that their community on the American plate should implement Sharia Law, and others believe our laws should be based on the Christian Old Testament, and both are proposing to stone to death any jalapeño chili peppers that might appear on the plate?

That is, of course, the inherent problem with uninhibited multiculturalism. It is one thing to advocate offering equal respect to people from various ethnic and racial cultures. It is quite another thing to embrace policies
  1. in which people of various ethnic and religious groups are addressed by the authorities as defined by the group to which they belong and
  2. that promote maintaining the distinctiveness of multiple cultures rather than policies such as social integration and cultural assimilation.
In other words, American history expects social integration and cultural assimilation, though the act of recognizing America's multicultural history is also expected. Consider this BBC News article:
Americans take pride in their "melting pot" society (a term coined by an immigrant, Israel Zangwill) that encourages newcomers to assimilate into the American culture.

But the melting pot imagery has been contested by the idea of multiculturalism, the "salad bowl theory", or as it is known in Canada, the "cultural mosaic", whereby the immigrants retain their own national characteristics while integrating into a new society.

Some go further. Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington says that large-scale Latino immigration poses a threat to American identity.

He sees the gravest threat to American identity in Mexican immigration which, according to him, is splitting America in two.
Apparently the late Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington - who lived in the former British Colonies of Massachusetts and New York with their "Little Italy" neighborhoods - was unaware of California when he wrote that Latino immigration would "divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages" Because he also wrote:
Would America be the America it is today if in the 17th and 18th centuries it had been settled not by British Protestants but by French, Spanish, or Portuguese Catholics? The answer is no. It would not be America; it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.
Or perhaps it would be California! In fact using the criteria of before the 19th century, here is the truth about the portion of America settled (or stolen from Native Americans) by Huntington's British Protestants versus the portion of America settled by Spanish Catholics:

The fact is if you believe Professor Huntington, only the states indicated above in blue have any serious claim to a 17th and 18th Centuries historical British Protestant cultural heritage.

While some are careful to make the "English-only" language as a legal argument there are those who, apparently ignorant of American history, offer a cultural argument without any historical foundation whatsoever.

For instance, while ICE Agents and bigots are attacking the Hispanic neighborhoods in California, no one is attacking the many "Little Italy" communities in the United States as indicated in Wikipedia:
  • Several Little Italies exist in New York City, including:
    • Little Italy, Manhattan
    • Italian Harlem
      • Pleasant Avenue, East Harlem, Manhattan
    • Little Italy, The Bronx
    • Morris Park, Bronx
    • Country Club, Bronx
    • Pelham Bay, Bronx
    • Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
    • South Brooklyn
      • Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
      • Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
    • Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
    • Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
    • Williamsburg, Brooklyn;
    • Howard Beach, Queens
    • Ozone Park, Queens
    • Astoria, Queens
    • Middle Village, Queens
    • Rosebank, Staten Island
    • Many Staten Island neighborhoods (44% of Borough Residents claim Italian ancestry)
  • Little Italy, Chicago, in Illinois
    • Elmwood Park, Illinois
    • Melrose Park, Illinois
    • Norridge, Illinois
    • Berwyn, Illinois
    • Grand Ave, Chicago
  • Little Italy, Altoona, in Pennsylvania
  • Little Italy, Baltimore, in Maryland
  • North End, Boston, in Massachusetts
  • Little Italy, Bridgeport, in Connecticut
  • Franklin Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Little Italy, Buffalo, in New York
  • Little Italy, Rochester - Gates Ny - Lyell Ave & Spencerport Rd
  • Little Italy, Cleveland, in Ohio
  • Little Italy, Connellsville, in Pennsylvania
  • Little Italy in Erie, Pennsylvania, an area centered on West 18th Street between Sassafras and Liberty Streets.
  • Little Italy, Kansas City, Missouri – Now defunct and mainly inhabited by South East Asian migrants.
  • Little Italy, Los Angeles – a defunct neighborhood now part of New Chinatown
  • Wooster Square, in New Haven, Connecticut
  • East Haven, Connecticut (40% of residents claim Italian ancestry)
  • Little Italy, Omaha, in Nebraska
  • Little Italy, Paterson, in New Jersey
  • South Trenton, New Jersey
  • South Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island
  • North Providence, Rhode Island (small town with high number of Italians; about the size of most Little Italies in big cities).
  • The Hill Little Italy in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Little Italy, San Diego, California
  • North Beach, San Francisco, in California
  • Little Italy, Schenectady, in New York
  • South End, Springfield, in Massachusetts
  • Little Italy, Syracuse, in New York
  • Little Italy, Waterbury, in Connecticut
  • Little Italy, Clay County, West Virginia
  • Little Italy, Randolph County, West Virginia
  • Little Italy, Wilmington, in Delaware
  • Brier Hill in Youngstown, Ohio
Those who believe as Huntington should be wondering why ICE agents are not deporting American citizens of Italian descent back to Italy. Of course, on the map above there are no Italian 17th-18th Century settlements Huntington could worry about.

Which brings us back to Representative King. Despite the fact that his tweet makes him sound like an Alt-Right idiot, when you look back at a 2002 column written by someone who opposed King's first run for Congress, you get a fair picture of King's views (you should really read the whole article to get a good idea of Congressman King):
The large number of Southeast Asian and Latino people who came to Denison and Storm Lake, first as refugees and then later to work in meat packing plants, came after King was out of school, in business and living on a farm between Kiron and Odebolt.

Is he aware that he is often labeled as being “anti-immigrant” now?

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I know that.”

But he said that’s inaccurate and unfair.

I reminded him of his “Official English” bill, the “God and Country Bill” and his harsh comment in a letter to western Iowa editors after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: “Preferential treatment and the obsession with the elevation of every third world culture to the status of our American Civilization are silenced for now and hopefully forever.”

So, how does he feel about immigrants?

“Anybody who comes to this country legally, I’m all for,” he said, “and I think we should all support legal immigration. But I do think we need to secure our borders. I think we need to take a serious look at our immigration policy.”

How does he view those from other cultures and countries, if they are here legally?

“I have a very strong, profound belief that we are all God’s children,” King said. “And I believe that God doesn’t draw distinctions between us to favor one race over another, or to favor men or favor women. We are all equal in God’s eyes.

“That has led me to advocate equal rights for everybody, and by virtue of that, no special rights for anybody.”

He said he enjoys “all the different cultures we have here now. Just look at it in terms of food alone, if you want to. I was raised pretty much on plain meat and potatoes. The variety of all the different kinds of food that other cultures have brought here is great.

“The cultural differences we have add to the richness of our life, and we should study them and celebrate them. But I come into this thing from the viewpoint that there are a lot of things that divide us as Americans, and a lot of multi-cultural efforts seem to divide us rather than unite us.

“When we first started to see multi-culturalism, I was in favor of it. But I now see it often being used as a political tool to divide us, and that concerns me. I like diversity of cultures and peoples, but we also need to recognize there is a greater American culture that unites us. It’s fine to celebrate the individual cultures we come from, but it can’t hinder the greater American culture.”

King said much of his understanding of immigration today, and the way Americans are reacting to it, has come from the writings of Thomas Sowell.

Sowell is a senior fellow at The Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He is African American, was born in the South and grew up in Harlem. He is a graduate in economics from Harvard, earned his master’s in that field at Columbia University and his doctorate in economics at the University of Chicago.

He is a widely known and quoted conservative whose books include a 1996 work, “Migration and Cultures: A World View.”
Congressman King's views curiously bring us back to California. The Hoover Institution, in which the source of King's opinions Thomas Sowell is currently Senior Fellow, is one of California's 13 organizations which are members of the Neoliberal Atlas Network as I explained here in the post 21st Century California vulnerabilities to active Neoliberal political opportunists.

If King and other Neoliberals are concerned that the American Cultural Salad Bowl concept is "being used as a political tool to divide us" and a danger to "a greater American culture that unites us" and specifically are targeting Hispanic and Asian immigration through government policy, then Congressman King and friends are engaging in a culture war against California's history, folklore, identity, and people.

California Empirical Egalitarian Progressivism, which has the goal of assuring the long term survival and success of California and Californians, includes a social compact recognizing the common needs of a disparate peoples. As I explained in #Calexit. Perhaps 170 years of invidious doubtful scorn is enough we Californians live in a state of migrants. California has been called the land of sunshine and opportunity in the context of migrants. In fact people have been migrating here for 10,000 years, and still are today from East of the Sierras, West of the Pacific, and South of the Border. That's fine with us.

You see California was part of Spain, then part of Mexico. It never was part of the British Empire, never, never. It became part of the United States through a war of occupation by the United States and a treaty imposed on Mexico. California's heritage is Hispanic. Let me make sure this is clear, the heritage of the State of California is Hispanic, not like Massachusetts or New York with their "Little Italy" neighborhoods. Want to visit California from your home state of Iowa....

 ... you should see the Spanish Missions established by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1769 and 1833. You can travel the El Camino Real.

After touring the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, in Carmel, California, you should visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the City of Monterey, which was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. That's the Alta California shown on this map:

Since Monterey was the only port of entry for taxable goods in California you should visit the Custom House State Park.

You won't see any sites associated with the Founding Fathers because they were in English colonies thousands of  miles away when the fastest travel was by horseback.

I won't repeat all the history of California covered in prior posts. But American California history begins with a war of occupation as indicated on this map....

...which ended on  February 2, 1848, with the signing in Mexico of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty added an additional 525,000 square miles to United States territory, including the land that makes up all or parts of present-day Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The Treaty has no direct impact on Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

But it clearly does apply to California. Among many other things to be settled after the Mexican-American War, the Treaty provides:

Mexicans now established in territories previously belonging to Mexico, and which remain for the future within the limits of the United States, as defined by the present treaty, shall be free to continue where they now reside, or to remove at any time to the Mexican Republic, retaining the property which they possess in the said territories, or disposing thereof, and removing the proceeds wherever they please, without their being subjected, on this account, to any contribution, tax, or charge whatever.

Those who shall prefer to remain in the said territories may either retain the title and rights of Mexican citizens, or acquire those of citizens of the United States. But they shall be under the obligation to make their election within one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty; and those who shall remain in the said territories after the expiration of that year, without having declared their intention to retain the character of Mexicans, shall be considered to have elected to become citizens of the United States.

In the said territories, property of every kind, now belonging to Mexicans not established there, shall be inviolably respected. The present owners, the heirs of these, and all Mexicans who may hereafter acquire said property by contract, shall enjoy with respect to it guarantees equally ample as if the same belonged to citizens of the United States.


The Mexicans who, in the territories aforesaid, shall not preserve the character of citizens of the Mexican Republic, conformably with what is stipulated in the preceding article, shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States. and be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States) to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution; and in the mean time, shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without restriction.
There are a lot of words in those two Articles, but from my point of view the United States did agree to respect the culture and heritage of the Mexican-Americans (and presumably their heirs) then remaining in that 525,000 square miles within which California is wholly located.

Further, when California's first constitution was drafted in 1849, despite the fact that the state's Spanish-speaking population was already a minority, delegates to the constitutional convention without opposition approved recognition of Spanish language rights: "All laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions emanating from any of the three supreme powers of this State, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish."

You see, even the Nazi's after they occupied France recognized the language of the natives living there. In fact in 2010 in English invasion 'threatens French language more than Nazis did' we are told: "The invasion of English words poses more of a "grave threat" to French national identity than the imposition of German under the Nazi occupation, according to a group of self-styled guardians of the French language."

Anyway, one might think this treaty-based legal history should ameliorate the tension between the Melting Pot traditionalists and the multicultural advocates when it comes to the issue of Hispanic people in the Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, but it does not.

What I want to say to both the Neoliberals nationalists like King and the rabid  multiculturalists who are still debating  is "get over it." But what I will say is keep your nose out of California's business. We don't do Cultural Melting Pots or Cultural Salad Bowls. We do stews where you can taste everything...

We don't find this insidious and if Carlos O'Brien wants to put potatoes and carrots in, fine.

Yes, Carlos O'Brien. For more on relevant history read about the Saint Patrick's Battalion, highly revered in Mexico. You see in the mid-1840's Irish and other Catholic immigrants had the impression that the those now revered descendants of English immigrants shouldn't be forcing members of the Army to worship in Protestant services and those Irish had the impression that there was little difference between
  • British colonial bigotry as they had experienced it in the Ireland they were escaping and 
  • the American Manifest Destiny movement bigotry as it affected Mexicans and Native Americans.

Embracing their English Protestant heritage must have seemed to the Irish immigrants like an odd choice for people living in the home of the first revolution against British colonialism. But like all things American, it was confusing. Some of the folks in the 13 Colonies did not like some British taxes and military policies. 

But the United States is still fighting wars in places like Iraq, in the process standing in for the British colonial bigots whose descendants just voted for Brexit mostly to keep out war refugees from places like the Iraq they created from whole cloth bigotry.

It is exactly the attitude the Irish encounted in the America of the 1840's that has resulted in Neoliberalism controlling the United States government. It is good that Twitter exists because without the bumbling tweets, we might not know just how much the Republicans have embraced the tradition of Manifest Destiny bigotry at the core of Neoliberalism.

And we might not understand just how dangerous this is to California's history, folklore, identity and people. But we need to, and then fortify our defenses.

No comments: