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re: Huntington


Excellent article today by Fouad Ajami on Sam Huntington in the Wall Street Journal. Huntington argues in Who Are We? that issues such as transnationalism, globalism, dual citizenship, “racial preferences, bilingualism, multiculturalism, immigration, assimilation, national history standards, English as the official language, Eurocentrism,” and so on, are “all battles in a single war over the nature of American national identity.” Huntington’s core point is that “de-nationalized elites” are promoting the “transnational” and the “multicultural” in order to “deconstruct” America’s creed and common culture.

In other words, these are all what Jim Ceaser and the Straussians would call “regime issues.” What is being contested is the nature of America’s liberal democratic regime as it has been traditionally understood. Will this regime be perpetuated and transmitted to future generations or will it be transformed into a new type of transnational-multicultural-regime? Huntington’s thesis is a tour de force that cuts to the heart of this question. Needless to say, Huntington was hysterically attacked by nervous “de-nationalized elites” on the left, who don’t want these issues discussed openly.

Unfortunately even on the center-right, Huntington’s core argument seems to have gotten lost in Harry Jaffa-style sectarian in-fighting over the extent to which America is a “proposition” nation and the persistence of an “Anglo-Protestant culture.” But, surely, it is possible to disagree with Huntington (which, to an extent, I do) on the creed vs. culture aspect of American nationhood; the degree to which American culture is still formed by the “dissenting Anglo-Protestant” tradition; and on the “Clash of Civilizations” thesis, but still, at the same time, recognize the accuracy of his description of the comprehensive assault on our national identity by “de-nationalized” elites.

As a consequence of the center-right’s failure to embrace the essentials of the Huntington critique, conservatives have continued to see a series of often unconnected “social” or “cultural” issues (racial preferences, politically correct history education, immigration without assimilation, NGOs at the U.N. Durban conference) or the rantings of academic post-modernists instead of a serious comprehensive ideological offensive directed at the traditional American regime.


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