Glazer on Multiculturalism

On September 23 Nathan Glazer gave a lively talk at the university about public intellectuals: “Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out.”

The next day he was back with a talk entitled “Living with Ethnic Diversity in the United States and Canada.” Glazer’s best-known book is Beyond the Melting Pot (written with Daniel Moynihan).

I note three points of interest.

1. Glazer disagrees sharply with Samuel Huntington. In Who Are We? (2004), Huntington contends that the recent wave of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. will not prove amenable to integration and may indeed threaten American freedoms. The “American Creed” (respect for individuals and the rule of law) flourishes only in a society dominated by English speakers and Protestants. Add too many Spanish-speaking Catholics to the population and the great American experiment will fail.

Glazer would have none of it. The Mexicans will be assimilated to the American way of life within a generation or two, following the pattern of previous groups.

2. He duly listed differences between Canadians and Americans on treatment of immigrants – in Canada governments play a bigger role – but concluded that all in all Canada is as much a “melting pot” as the United States, while U.S. immigrants are as likely as Canadians to retain the sense of their original identity.

3. Asked whether Muslims in Canada and the United States would resist integration, he maintained that they too would shortly adopt the prevailing political mores. About Muslim immigrants in Europe, he expressed less confidence.

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