The Challenges to America's National Identity. In his seminal work "The Clash of Civilizations" and the "Remaking of World Order," Samuel Huntington argued provocatively and presciently that with the end of the cold war, "civilizations" were replacing ideologies as the new fault lines in international politics. His astute analysis has proven correct.
Here Professor Huntington turns his attention from international affairs to our domestic cultural rifts as he examines the impact other civilizations and their values are having on our own country. America was founded by British settlers who brought with them a distinct culture including the English language, Protestant values, individualism, religious commitment, and respect for law. The waves of immigrants that later came to the United States gradually accepted these values and assimilated into America's Anglo-Protestant culture. More recently, however, national identity has been eroded by the problems of assimilating massive numbers of primarily Hispanic immigrants, bilingualism, multiculturalism, the devaluation of citizenship, and the "denationalization" of American elites.
September 11 brought a revival of American patriotism and a renewal of American identity. But already there are signs that this revival is fading, even though in the post-September 11 world, Americans face unprecedented challenges to our security. "Who Are We?" shows the need for us to reassert the core values that make us Americans. Nothing less than our national identity is at stake. Once again Samuel Huntington has written an important book that is certain to provoke a lively debate and to shape our national conversation about who we are.
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