A predictable polemic against the multiculturalist threat to assimilation, or what the author, vice president of the Center...


THE UNMAKING OF AMERICANS: How Multiculturalism Has Undermined the Assimilation Ethic

A predictable polemic against the multiculturalist threat to assimilation, or what the author, vice president of the Center for Equal Opportunity (and formerly a fellow with the Heritage Foundation), calls ""Americanization."" America is a land of immigrants. As a nation, says Miller, it has not only survived but prospered by following two simple roles: Citizens must agree that immigrants can and should become Americans; immigrants must agree to do so. Throughout an imperfect history, ""Americanization"" has been our guiding principle. Immigrants must accept our founding ideas of liberty and equality; they must be law-abiding, lead productive lives, speak English, become citizens. Today, however, says Miller, this principle is under attack, on the Right by ""nativists"" who believe immigrants cannot become truly American, on the Left by multiculturalist elites who believe they should not, As the author aims most of his criticism at the Left, this is clearly what he considers to be the greater danger. Well intentioned or not, Leftist elites have created policies and programs that have left millions of immigrants outside the American mainstream. We now have a demand for racial and ethnic entitlements (""the venomous cult of group rights""), bilingual education, foreign-language voting, and the cheapening of naturalization standards. The author calls for an end to all such policies and a return to the beliefs and practices of assimilation. Some of Miller's thoughts are not without merit, but they're presented in a shrill and intolerant tone, and his logic is often simply bizarre. While claiming not to be defending McCarthyism, for example, he finds it was a ""triumph"" for Americanization/assimilation as people were attacked for their beliefs, which they could change, not for their race, ethnicity, religion, or place of birth, which was given. Multiculturalism and connected issues are indeed contentious items on the American agenda. Discussion of them requires reasoned analysis and sensitive argumentation, neither of which is to be found in this decidedly odd manifesto.

Pub Date: May 1, 1998


Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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