Straight White Anglo-Saxon Protestants: Start Screwin’!
Pam notes how the religious regressives* are up in arms about the plummeting birth rates in Europe. In this worldview, the earth is becoming overpopulated by those people and we are in danger of our culture going extinct. (At least this is a “breeder” problem and can’t be pinned on the gay and lesbian community… I can’t imagine the funduhmentalless evangenitals calling for more white David Crosby Baster Babies for Melissa Etheridge anytime soon.)
This same sentiment arises when the immigration issue is brought up, with the nutzoid Tom Tancredo and the seriously deranged Michael (Weiner) Savage bloviate about the dreaded brown menace that is “invading” our homeland. (How you consider the return to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Las Cruces, El Paso, etc., by someone of Hispanic native descent an invasion rather than a repatriation is beyond me and a subject of another post someday…)
(More pontification below…)
This idea of “losing the American culture” is, of course, a red herring. What they are really saying (as Pam notes) is that America is losing its Straight White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Male majority. And for some people who’ve taken that majority for granted and built their identity around it and taken advantage of all the overt and subtle ways our culture rewards one’s WASPiness, this is a terrifying threat indeed.
To simplify the concept, imagine standing in an elevator. At floor 2, two Hispanic women join the elevator and begin conversing en Español. Most of us would just keep staring straight ahead, paying little heed to the ladies. But the Tancredo, the Savage, the religious regressive, he thinks they’re talking about him. They must be, else they would speak in English. They only need to speak in Spanish to cloak their conspiratorial conversation from The Man.
It’s other little things, like going to the drive-thru for a burger. The fellow on the other end of the already-tough-to-understand speaker system talks with a Indian accent. The WASP in the Lincoln Navigator has trouble understanding and takes that as a personal affront. “Learn to speak English!” is what the Tancredo is thinking or maybe even yelling back into the speaker. It never occurs to the Tancredo that he might be the one who needs to listen better or ask for clarification; no, it’s Tancredo’s country and all must bend to the needs of the Tancredo.
Of course, there’s also that thinly-veiled racism involved, and the WASPy types can’t help but notice more and more Spanish popping up in our movies and TV, more and more brown faces among the shoppers at the mall, more and more hip-hop culture and low-rider culture and women in hijabs, more and more rainbow flags flying over urban sidewalks, more and more non-Protestant non-White Congressmen, Senators, and Presidential Candidates… more and more, being a Straight White Anglo-Saxon Protestant means you’re just a man, not The Man.
When the Founders wrote “all men are created equal”, they were looking at a room full of white dudes. Blacks were only 60% human and Native Americans not at all human. Lots of WASPy types like that definition and aren’t ready to be truly equals-as-in-peers.
Now, I can agree that we WASPs (well, I’m actually a WASA) are losing our numerical clout. The most recent census data show that whites are a minority in 10% of all US counties and lack a simple majority in 3 of ten US counties.
But losing our culture? What exactly is this American culture when the Applebee’s in San Diego looks just like the same on in the same looking strip mall in Bangor, Maine? Or, which American culture are they talking about, the culture in South Central LA or in Beverly Hills?
Tancredo and his ilk scream that the immigrants need to assimilate to American culture and learn English. First of all, ever try to learn English? The US Army has a language school attended by a friend of mine in military intelligence. They classify languages on a scale of 1-5 based on difficulty. Romance languages like Spanish & French are a 1. Germanic languages get a 2. Slavic/Russian and Arabic get a 3. Pictographic languages like Korean, Japanese, and Chinese get a 4.
There is only one Level 5 language – English. And to understand how tough it is for a non-native speaker to learn it, imagine trying to read this sentence for the first time: “The bough broke through the tough cough” and explain why “ough” has four pronunciations. So, Tancredo, forgive the immigrants if it takes a few months before they pick up some English. It might also help if someone would pick up the tab for funding more English classes for immigrants.
On the culture tip, puh-lease. Immigrants don’t assimilate to American culture; American culture assimilates immigrants. We are the cultural Borg. Resistance is futile. Irish came here to work, America folds St. Patrick’s Day and Lucky Charms into our culture. Chinese came here to work, American cities sprout Chinatowns and fortune cookies. Africans were kidnapped to work here, America gets blues, jazz, and rock’n’roll. Mexicans came to work here, America gets marijuana and Taco Bell.
Certainly the “American culture” of 1807 looks nothing like the “American culture” of 2007, and it will look just as different in 2207. The Tancredos need to get over their white selves and assimilate to the new American culture.
* It’s my new counter-term for “secular progressives”.