Borders and Accelerating Change in National Culture

Friday, June 3, 2022

To inquire about the state of our national security is to assume that we are one nation. Any nation needs a common culture. Otherwise, it is not one nation. Whether America will have a common culture in 2050 is an open question.

In 1950, 89% of the population was of European origin. In 2050, that percentage will drop to 47%, while those of Hispanic origin will increase to 30%, Asian to 10%, and blacks at 13%.

And given that the southern border is an open entryway, the Hispanic proportion may grow even more. Since the Middle Ages, no gigantic, powerful, and prosperous nation has so radically altered its national roots.

How does 40% or more of a nation, coming from a vastly different heritage, assimilate and support the principles enunciated by our Founding Fathers and grasp the unfolding of our history over the past two centuries? Because there is no precedent, we simply do not know. To assume that some strategic plan will be designed by some august assemblage of scholars and disseminated across the fifty states is delusionary. Culture eats strategy for lunch.

But what are the roots of culture? To take one example, the centuries of extreme inequality in access to and control over land is one of the main unresolved problems in Latin America. From that stems a notion of a nation being naturally composed of a small ruling class and large population base accustomed to rules and orders from on high. This settled and unequal distribution of power and property, all too common in Latin America, is the antithesis of the rambunctious land opening of the American West and the rebellious, independent spirit of equality underlying the astonishing flourishing of America in the past two centuries.

If you come from an entirely different culture with a markedly different history, how do you adapt in America? What is the process of assimilation into America? The instinctive answer is to point to schools rather than to the millions of family units arriving annually. But will schools provide that common baseline of cultural assimilation based upon the Constitution?

Culture, of course, is separate from religion, that cannot be taught in publicly-funded schools. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), wrote, “when government-sponsored religious exercises are directed at impressionable children who are required to attend school, …government endorsement is much more likely to result in coerced religious beliefs.” Yet we have long assumed that “government-sponsored historical exercises directed at impressionable children” are right and proper in order to ensure that every generation has a shared view of our history and culture.

But with the introduction by teachers and school boards of Critical Race Theory into the classrooms, parents across the nation are objecting to what is being taught. While the 1925 case, Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, did affirm that parents have the right to teach their children in accordance with their religious and moral views, the vast majority of parents do not opt for home-schooling. Thus, going forward it is likely that most children will be taught a version of American history by the three million members of the progressive National Education Association. Delegates at the annual NEA meeting in 2021 called for a study criticizing “empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.”

Given these two trends—an accelerating influx of immigrants, legal and illegal, from cultures different from the European origins of our nation and the accelerating revisionist view of American history held by the nation’s largest teacher’s union—it is not self-evident that America in 2050 will share a common, prevailing culture based upon the principles of our Founding Fathers and the Constitution.