Unfortunately, California has taken a leading role in this malign process. Senate Bill 48, sponsored by San Francisco Democrat Mark Leno and currently pending in Sacramento, would require “instruction in social sciences to also include a study of the role and contributions of Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and other ethnic and cultural groups, to the development of California and the United States.” And to make the therapeutic intent clear, Leno’s bill also mandates that “the state board or any governing board shall not adopt any textbooks or other instructional materials for use in the public schools that contain any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation.” The result of this social engineering is to reduce the essence of being an American to a flabby tolerance.
Such legislation legitimizes the bizarre spectacle that we see every day in California: people who have risked life and limb to come to America, some illegally, publicly chastising this country and asserting the superiority of their native lands. For example, most California state university campuses have chapters of a group called MEChA, the “National Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.” Aztlan is the mythical territory, comprising northern Mexico and the American Southwest, that was allegedly stolen and plundered by Americans. MEChA promotes a politicized Mexican identity called “Chicanismo” that “involves a personal decision to reject assimilation and work towards the preservation of our cultural heritage.” As such, MEChA “is committed to ending the cultural tyranny suffered at the hands of institutional and systematic discrimination that holds our Gente [people] captive.” If you need further evidence that this ideology is hostile to American culture and identity, just read a poem published recently at California State University Fresno in La Voz de Aztlán, a state-subsidized campus newspaper that functions as MEChA’s house organ: “America the land robbed by the white savage / the land of the biggest genocide / the home of intolerance / the place where dreams come to die / the place of greed and slavery,” and so on for another two dozen lines.
The traditional model of immigrant assimilation that helped create California cannot work if our public schools and universities subsidize anti-Americanism. One can already see where such balkanization leads: more inter-ethnic conflict and more ignorance about what constitutes America and its core principles. Meanwhile, consumerism and a crass popular culture, which increasingly constitute the common ground of being American, fill the void—and I’m not sure that a sustainable national identity can be built on a shared appreciation of fast food, bad movies, and vulgar popular music. Immigration can work again in this country. But for that to happen, schools and government must recommit themselves to teaching and reinforcing the common culture and political principles that immigrants once learned to become Americans.
Bruce Thornton is a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor of Classics and Humanities at California State University Fresno. His new book is The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama’s America, published by Encounter Books.