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Huntington Partial truths or half-truths are often more insidious than total falsehoods. Total falsehoods can be easily exposed for what they are by citing exceptions to their claims.
Hence, they are less likely to be accepted as the total truth. A partial truth, on the other hand, is plausible, because there is evidence to support it. And hence, it is easy to assume that it is the total truth. There are at least two partial truths concerning American identity that often are accepted as the whole truth.
These include, first, that America is a proposition country a country whose identity is defined by commitment to a particular set of values and ideals, formulated and expressed in the writings of the founding fathers, most notably in the Declaration and the Constitution.
These are what Gunnar Myrdal described as the American Creed. This creedal concept of American identity is now often assumed to be the total truth concerning American identity.
It is, however, only part of American identity. For much of our history we defined ourselves in racial, religious, ethnic, and cultural terms, as well as in propositional or creedal terms. We really only came around to accepting and integrating the propositional dimension of identity into a concept of ourselves at the time of the American Revolution.
Before that we had thought of ourselves in large part as being defined religiously: The enemies were the Catholics the French and the Spanish. This, of course, was also the attitude of the British, who defined themselves in similar terms.
We also thought of ourselves in racial and largely ethnic terms. Eighty percent of Americans in the decades of the Revolution were from the British Isles, with 60 percent English and 20 percent Scotch and Scotch-Irish, while the other 20 percent was largely German and Dutch.
In the 19th century, the massive immigration of Irish and German Catholics, and at the end of that century large-scale immigration from Eastern Europe, contributed tremendously to religious and ethnic diversification and eventually eliminated these ethnic components of American identity.
The racial element, however, still remained. From until the s, a whole series of legislation excluded immigrants from Asia from coming to our society. Also, of course, for most of this time most Americans thought of America as a white country with, at best, only a very segregated and subordinate role for blacks.
In addition, from the earliest time American identity has been defined in terms of the Anglo-Protestant culture, values, and institutions of the founding settlers, including individualism, liberty, the work ethic, the rule of law, private property, and hostility to concentrated power.
The founding fathers added the propositional dimension to American identity at the time of the Revolution. How else were they going to justify themselves in rebelling against the British monarchy? The British were white, English, and Protestant, just as we were.
They had to have some other basis on which to justify independence, and happily they were able to formulate the inalienable truths set forth in the Declaration.
Those, of course, have remained a key component, but only one component of American identity. A Nation of Immigrants: That certainly is a partial truth. But it is often assumed to be the total truth. We have all heard people say, again and again, that all Americans, except possibly the Indians, are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants.
My colleague at Harvard, Oscar Handlin, began his classic book, The Uprooted, by saying, "the immigrants were American history. Yes, immigrants and immigration have been an important part of the American history. But they are not all American history. There are at least three critical points that need to be made in this connection.
The first is a basic distinction between immigrants and settlers. Immigrants are people who leave one country, one society, and move to another society. But there has to be a recipient society to which the immigrants move.
In our case, the recipient society was created by the settlers who came here in the 17th and 18th centuries. They came in groups to create new societies up and down the Atlantic seaboard.
They weren't immigrating to some existing society; indeed, they often did whatever they could do to destroy whatever existed here in the way of Indian society. They were establishing new societies, in some cases for commercial reasons, in more cases for religious reasons.
They had an image of what they wanted to create and they came and formed a settlement to try to realize their image. They also had to come together and agree as to how they were going to define their community.Jul 24, · Diasporas and International Relations Theory - Volume 57 Issue 3 - Yossi Shain, Aharon Barth Winning, Westminster-style: Tamil diaspora interest group mobilisation in Canada and the UK.
Samuel P. Huntington The Erosion of American National Interests. Samuel Huntington Links: OBITUARIES & LINKS: Samuel P. Huntington (BrothersJuddBlog) -EXCERPT: from The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order By Samuel P. Huntington Chapter One: The New Era in World Politics -ESSAY: The Clash of Civilizations?
Samuel P. Huntington’s Letter of Reply to Murray N. Rothbard To the Editor: Dr. Rothbard makes a number of remarks in his comment (September issue, pp. ) from which I must vigorously dissent.
Samuel P. Huntington. The Common Defense: Strategic Programs in National Politics. New York: Columbia University Press. Review by Gene Giannotta Huntington’s study of national security policy-making in the American system presents a detailed description and analysis of the ways in which the executive and legislative branches interacted to craft defense budgets and strategic goals.
Jul 23, · The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission by Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington and Joji Watanuki. New York University Press.
pp. American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony by Samuel P.
Huntington. Apr 05, · Skip to comments. Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite The National Interest ^ | Spring | Samuel Huntington Posted on 04/05/ AM PDT by shrinkermd. Debates over national identity are a pervasive characteristic of our time.