Sunday, August 10, 2008
Munro’s commentary on China, the Olympics, Immigration and challenges to the primacy of the English speaking peoples.
Q What did you think of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics? I found it very militaristic beneath the glossy exterior, and even menacing to see all those thousands of automatons.
As far as China and the Olympics go, yes, I found the ceremonies obsequious to Chinese culture and history the way the 1936 Olympics were to the Nazis and the 3rd Reich.
While we sleep –and save nothing- China is becoming an economic powerhouse. They have a 40% savings rate. Soon and very soon we will be if we are not already an economic colony of the Chinese.
I cannot see how the USA can maintain air and naval supremacy for more than one generation in the pacific. China already is endangering our aircraft carriers with nuclear subs and its army, navy and air force are huge and modernizing in leaps and bounds. In round 2 of the Korean war we would certainly lose not tomorrow or five years from now but 25 years from now. It is only a matter of time. For our own good we should withdraw our troops from Korean before they are wiped out. That’s my opinion.
We have witnessed the decline and fall of one empire (the British) and its currency in the lifetime of my family. It was a major topic of discussion from my early youth.
The why and hows of our exile and the cause was the decline and fall of the British Empire starting in 1914. By 1945 things were worse as they could no longer sustain their navy leaving an almost total collapse of the Clyde Shipyards –they revived a bit 1939-1945,
But it got to the point that my people essentially emigrated en masse to the USA, Australia and Canada. We had survived the 18th and 19th century essentially by being agents of the British Empire and Maritime fleet. Every Highlander dreamed of making his modest fortune and returning to his native place and this was the pattern for generations but gradually they were pulled to the lowland cities and finally permanent emigration.
This was the price of individual freedom and independence: we had to throw our lot in with the English-speaking communities round the world and turn our back forever, as I have, on our ancestral homes.
I do not forget but I am a realist. My future and the future of my children is in the Americas and chiefly but not exclusively in the USA. And I know in a long journey some things must be left behind. But I take comfort in the fact that something always remains.
I read a HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLE by Andrew Roberts last year. Andrew Roberts brilliantly reveals what made the English-speaking people the preeminent political culture since 1900, and how they have defended their primacy from the many assaults upon them. And yes, primacy or supremacy are the words we must use. America is free and independent because of economic, cultural, political, naval, military and air supremacy.
What connects those countries where the majority of the population speaks English as a first language—the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, even Ireland—is far greater than what separates them, and the development of their history since 1900 has been a phenomenal success story. But we may have witnessed the peak of the English-speaking peoples circa 1970.
I am not, as you know English, but I am an English-speaking person and have always considered myself an Anglophile.
But there is much evidence of a real cultural decline as well as an economic decline. In Britain things are worse than they are here because they are not assimilating immigrant populations.
But many of my English friends say that their former hometowns have become hostile alien communities. Here in California –perhaps you know the book Mexifornia- I hear the same complaint whole neighborhoods of Los Angeles and entire rural communities of the San Joaquin Valley have effectively ceased being part of the English-speaking world. Punjabi owners of the Chevron gas station in Arvin, California all speak Spanish –they say it is essential and 90% of their customers speak Spanish. In fact, they were afraid that English-speakers would not even stop there which is why they put up big signs ENGLISH SPOKEN HERE and AMERICAN FLAGS.
I asked my Auld Pop when I was a small boy why we spoke English if we were not English. He puffed on his unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes and pondered a minute and then he said: “English is the language of the banks and the long-range guns. That’s why everybody speaks English even the English.”
The implication was, and I think this is true is that English has gained its primacy due to its prosperity, political stability and unity which are based on its culture –which includes home and community life.
English-speaking women -like many Europeans- are having children more reluctantly and less frequently. One of the results of this birth dearth is that in many communities there is no large cohort of English-speaking children to assimilate to.
English-speaking people take the survival and success of their language as a given.
As a Gael by heritage I do no take the survival and success of any language as a given. Gaelic has survived centuries of repression and neglect but now what will kill it will be Margaret Sanger. One of the reasons the language has survived was the abnormally high traditional birth rate of Highlanders as compared to other Britons. This is no longer true as birth control has reached the Islands and as people abandon a life of rural crofts and fishing. At present there are only 2,000 Gaelic speaking children in Gaelic speaking households; the median age of a Gaelic speaker is over 50 years of age.
It is ironic that Gaelic has become popular and fashionable at the same time the Pill and “Free Love” have undermined –in my view- its healthy family culture. There is hope of course but only just.
But I watch from afar as an American. Naturally I have a sentimental tie to the Old World –especially Scotland, the Holy Land, Rome and Spain- but I am an American by choice and it is America which concerns me most.
English-speakers are so sure about the automatic supremacy of American and the English language and I think many resent the competition of Spanish. Yet in Spanish English has found a tenacious rival.
There can be no question that Spanish will continue to thrive and grow in the United States and this is due in large part do the gaps in our own native-English speaking population (perhaps caused by 48,000,000 abortions?). Nature abhors a void and into that demographic void come countless millions of Asia and Latin immigrants.
Of course the problem is greater than the abortion question by itself. No one knows how many pregnancies were blocked and how much birth control and the ZPG mentality has led to cult of childlessness not merely “birth control.” The birth rate per 1000 has dropped dramatically. It was 30.1 in 1910 to a low of 19.1 in 1940 to the so-called ‘baby boom’ of the 50’s (every year at 24.1 to 25.3). From then it is has gradually declined to less than half of early 20th century levels to recent years of 13.9 to 14.1. SOURCE http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005067.html
But the percentage is misleading because the birth rate for native English speaking Americans is much lower than ZPG in many states. It is well-known that educated women tend to have fewer children than less educated women.
Over 50% of the children born in California are Hispanic and in some communities the number is closer to 90%. Demography is destiny both for nations, cultures, religions and languages. Of course the fact that one is born “Latino” whatever that means does not mean this person is going to be a Spanish speaking Roman Catholic. One must take into account mixed marriages, Americanized Hispanics (who are no longer Spanish-speaking) and other factors. Julie Banderas on Fox News is part Hispanic (she is part Columbian) but as far as I know she doesn’t speak a word of Spanish she just has a South American look due to her Latin American connection.
So culture and education are the crucial factors. If I didn’t believe it were so I would not be a teacher. But so are families and communities. If the language of the community ceases to be English then this will undermine English medium education. Perhaps it already has. I have dedicated my life to teaching in the public schools and as a private citizen to the teaching of ethics, family culture and religion. I am, of course, a Roman Catholic, but I have militated against sectarian prejudice and anti-Semitism as well. But I am also a public school teacher. I believe that religion must be a voluntary association and that as Americans we must peacefully coexist with private differences of religion. That having been said, the future history of America and its political unity will depend on our education or intermarriage with and assimilation of immigrant populations. Of this I am certain.
There is no question that immigration and especially illegal immigration is controversial and perhaps unsustainable. I have sympathy for the orphans of empire but I have no sympathy whatsoever with criminal gangs and lawlessness. So this is serious problem that must be addressed. In this age of terror we cannot afford to be laissez faire about immigration.
Nonetheless, I see most Latino and Asian immigrants as cultural allies not enemies. Hispanics can become a pillar of American society. Whatever problems they bring they bring us youth and energy. It is up to people like me to see that this energy is channeled into positive avenues. That’s the way I see it.
And so I serve not just to work and do a job but carry on my calling with absolute and total dedication. I believe America is, on the whole a good and free country and as an American I want the country where we have settled to be free, prosperous and united for the common good not just for myself alone in my life time.
And of course I am interested in the survival and success of the English-speaking world as well because those democracies are our natural allies followed by Latin Democracies (including Quebec and France) and other democracies. China is not a democracy. It remains a Pagan Fascist-Communist dictatorship. It may prove to be a much greater danger than Islamofascism in the long run.
I want Hispanic immigrants on our side the way William Pitt wanted the Highlanders on HIS SIDE not rebelling or fighting for the French. Pitt began a policy of amnesty and religious tolerance. The Highland poet, Duncan Ban Macintyre wrote:
Men bred in the rough bounds,
the host that is trustworthy...
Men of elan and mettle
with blue blade in pommel...
Descendants of noble clans,
begotten of north men,
'twas their instinct in every action
William Pitt (the Elder), (1707-1778) on his famous eulogy to the Highland Regiments in 1766:
I sought for merit wherever it could be found. It is my boast that I was the first minister who looked for it, and found it, in the mountains of the north. I called it forth, and drew into your service a hardy and intrepid race of men; men who, when left by your jealousy, became a prey to the artifices of your enemies, and had gone nigh to have overturned the State, in the war before last. These men, in the last war, were brought to combat on your side; they served with fidelity, as they fought with valour, and conquered for you in every quarter of the world.
Pitt was right,of course, and thanks to him French-speaking Gaels –former soldiers of the French King’s Bodyguard of Scottish Archers- penetrated the French lines at Quebec in 1759 climbing up the hill and passing through the French lines without a shot. Parkman has a wonderful description of the event. The French soldiers assumed that no Englishman could speak French so fluently but then they forgot if they ever knew that French was the second language of generations of Highlanders who had served in French regiments –English being their third language.
People often underestimate people and cultures they do not know or understand. Part of the fear of new immigrants –part of it- is the uncertainty of how these immigrants will behave. Will they be good citizens or selfish brutish hooligan gangsters? There is no question that the strain of immigration and urbanization puts an unbelievable pressure of family life to the point that normal family life is shattered. This is why I believe everything possible should be done to keep families united as much as humanly possible and providing a healthy environment for youth.
But having stable families and creating large cohorts of native-speaking English children are essential if we are to Americanize immigrants or become in the words of TR a “polyglot boardinghouse”. The immigrants we have and the Hispanics we have are not going away. We need to find a way to peacefully coexist with them and make paths for their full citizenship in the USA if that is what they desire.
It is a fact of life that Mexico and Latin America share the American continent with us. But what we don’t know is how they will share the continent. As neighbors, as allies, as friends or as enemies? Are we going to have more Brazils and more Colombias or more Cubas and more Venezulas? We should do all we can, in my view to support the survival and success of free institutions in the USA and in the Americas, particularly.
John F. Kennedy in his address to the Canadian Parliament in 1961 spoke of the relationship with the USA and Canada but it could easily apply to Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Columbia and other Latin American nations:
Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.
What unites us is far greater than what divides us. The issues and irritants that inevitably affect all neighbors are small deed in comparison with the issues that we face together--above all the somber threat now posed to the whole neighborhood of this continent--in fact, to the whole community of nations. But our alliance is born, not of fear, but of hope. It is an alliance that advances what we are for, as well as opposes what we are against.
In the final analysis I think this is true. What unites the peoples of the Americas is far greater than what divides us. Let us put away the misunderstandings and misconceptions which give rise to uncertainty, fear and confusion but let us also be honest about the problems relating to uncontrolled illegal immigration and lawlessness. I know this world is a dangerous place but I hope that all the nations of the Americas will continue to grow in friendship, to grow in prosperity, and to grow in peaceful and democratic achievement. We are all Western peoples and I would be glad to welcome any Latin country as a cherished Western Ally.
Some sources on demography:
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=8136 John F. Kennedy address to the Canadian Parliament 1961