The Corner

Re: Anti-Semites of the Future

John: Now you’re engaging in caricature. The issue actually isn’t anti-Semitism as such, much less your straw man of “Jewish-hating monsters.” Rather, the issue is Americanization, and one measure of the full cultural integration of immigrant groups is the degree to which they adopt America’s traditional sense of kinship with the people of Israel. There are other such measures, like the characteristics gauged by the World Values Survey; see Marty Lipset’s American Exceptionalism. The issue of affinity for the Jews is especially interesting because for many of the immigrants of yesteryear, and today, there was a lot of cultural baggage to discard before their descendants got where they are today. (The Church’s own advances in that area helped, too, of course.) So before taking on more immigrants, we need to ask ourselves whether we really have enough of what John Howard in his AEI speech called “self-belief” to successfully Americanize today’s newcomers. When I look at the Americanization efforts of a century ago that you discuss in your own book, it’s clear that it’s simply not happening today, and there’s no quick way for us to recapture that self-belief (the weakening of which is part and parcel of modernity).

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