Samuel Huntington's "Who are we?" took a while to finish. Its language was
distinct from most of my readings so far. Jargons from social sciences and
politics, subjects for which I had cared little, slowed me down. Thankfully, big
words did not mean sloppy writing. The professor was concise and to the point.
There were just much to say as the book cited results from study after study to
prove its points.
This was the first time I noticed the word "Protestant" in its basic and
definining sense, simply a protester! The early settlers felt that protesting
against Rome and the Roman Catholic Church was not enough and they had to
renounce Canterbury and the Church of England, too.
But what was contested? The book did not delve into the details. The Web would
have too much to say but it is safe to assume that the rub have to do with
oppressive heirachies. The antagonism could come directly from Matthew 25-27
You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and
officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it
will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your
servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to
give his life as a ransom for many.
It reminded me of my college days when China was opening to the world and the
people were, after decades, again exposed to Western cultures. I had a lot
of choices but, for no particular reason, I recited the Gettysburg Address
and Lincoln's Second Inaugural speech and was drawn to "the proposition that
all men are created equal." 30 years later, I learnt from Huntington that
the idea was part of the "American Creed" which rooted deeply in the
Anglo-Protestant culture that gave birth to the U.S.A.
In his twilight years, the author must have felt desperate at the events
undermining the American identity that had united the hearts and souls of
the people since WWII. Globalization and denationalization of the elites,
multi-culturalism and a bifurcating trend due to hispanicization, etc., must
have disturbed him much and he made the following conclusion on page 199
Without a major war requiring substantial mobilization and lasting years,
however, contemporary immigrants will have neither the opportunity nor the
need to affirm their identity with and their loyalty to America as earlier
immigrants have done.
Overall, "Who are we?" discusses topics important to the new wave of immigrants,
those coming after 1965. It presents the language, the history, food for
thought, and compelling perspectives on local and world events. For us, the
Chinese-American diaspora, it should be compulsory reading. I definitely will