Review Deborah Schildkraut's "Americanism in the Twenty-First Century" (immigration, assimilation, Tufts, Russell Sage)

Deborah Schildkraut is an Associate Professor at Tufts University and the author of the book "Americanism in the Twenty-First Century: Public Opinion in the Age of Immigration". If your local library has a copy, feel free to post reviews of her book in comments.

The book is based on her "21st Century Americanism Survey" [1], which found that everything's A-OK as far as mass immigration and assimilation and multiculturalism are concerned [2]:

I find that concerns about national disintegration have little merit at this juncture. Most Americans, regardless of their ethnic or immigrant background, have a common, yet complex view of what being American means. Table 1 shows patterns of opinions on some of the measures that capture ideas about what American means. It shows for instance, that nearly all respondents think that believing in the work ethic ("economic freedom") (note: see [3]) is an essential component of being American. Likewise, strong majorities across racial and ethnic lines agree that carrying on the cultural traditions of one's ancestors ("maintaining difference") is a hallmark of being American... ...I find that non-American identities are often innocuous and that they can even bring about political engagement. Unfortunately, such engagement results only when the non-American identity is paired with perceptions of mistreatment, hardly a scenario to promote. I also show, however, that perceptions of mistreatment yield lower levels of obligation among those with panethnic or national origin attachments.

The problem is that her findings are based only on a limited series of questions, like this one:

Letting other people say what they want, no matter how much other people disagree with them. (Would you say that it should be very important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant, or very unimportant in making someone a true American)

It's not hard to pick out the expected answer, and it's not hard to imagine someone choosing it for various reasons. It's also not hard to imagine that same person choosing "very important" and then supporting laws or other actions against open speech. It's not hard to imagine someone answering the "right" questions and then supporting a politician like Martin Sandoval, or belonging to a Mexican government-linked group like the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

People say lots of things, but the concern about mass immigration is what happens when the chips are down. For instance, if the U.S. is involved in a conflict with a foreign country, will immigrants from that country feel divided loyalties? In the case of limited resources, will immigrants side with foreign citizens of their own ethnicity against the interests of Americans? (For the answer to that question, note that large numbers of Hispanics support the DREAM Act).

It would be hard to conduct a poll that would answer questions like those, but that would be much more valuable than the Survey's basic questions (none of which involve priorities or conflicts between different concepts).

But, there is this:

As Figure 1 shows, Latino and Asian respondents who identify primarily as Latino and Asian have a higher likelihood of saying they have an obligation to donate to charity than Latino and Asian respondents who identify primarily as American, but only when perceptions of panethnic discrimination are absent. Once such perceptions are present, the sense of obligation among these panethnic identifiers drops considerably. A Latino respondent who identifies as Latino but does not perceive discrimination has a 62% chance of saying she owes it to other Americans to donate to charity. When the same respondent thinks Latinos are mistreated, that probability drops to 31% – a precipitous drop of 31 percentage points.

The word "perception" is key. While there may be several cases of such discrimination, many who feel discriminated against are being demagogued into believing it or are believing it with little or no justification. Some Latinos might feel "panethnic discrimination" due to the Arizona immigration law, but the Survey doesn't even attempt to deal with how much of that is due to misinformation spread by those like Barack Obama (see Obama immigration), Univision and the rest of the media, and so on. The Arizona law aligns with long-existing federal law; if someone answered "very important" to the Survey question about "Respecting America's political institutions and laws" and opposes the concepts of the Arizona law, then there's a conflict that the Survey isn't bringing out.

Schildkraut is also not in touch with what we think of as reality, saying [4]:

"Even though a strong anti-immigrant sentiment does exist in today's pubic dialogue, it is not the opinion of the majority of Americans... It just feels that way because immigration critics are the most organized, and they have people in positions of political power who agree with them to help further their agendas."

That might be true in her mind, but it's not true in reality. Her Survey was funded by a grant from the $200 million Russell Sage Foundation, and dozens of similar pro-mass immigration studies have been funded by millions of dollars from other foundations. Those who support massive and illegal immigration have countless millions of dollars available to them from Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, the Koch family, David Gelbaum, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, and many more. They've got the media (see PIIPP for examples); even Fox News is iffy when it comes to opposing massive/illegal immigration. Virtually every single member of the elite supports massive and even illegal immigration. And, their support for that conflicts with the wishes of most Americans.

Who's organizing the other side? Small groups like FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies, and Numbers USA (small organizationally, but with around 1 million members). Those groups have received funds from John Tanton, a retired ophthalmologist from a small town in Michigan. He's the counterweight to Bloomberg, Soros, the Kochs, Gelbaum, Murdoch, Gates, and all the rest.

Both Obama and George W Bush enabled illegal immigration, as do many national politicians: it's a very long list.

For much, much more on how delusional Schildkraut is on that aspect, see all the listings linked from the topics page.

If you have any comments on Schildkraut's book, a review, or comments on the Survey, feel free to leave them below.

The questions can be downloaded without having an account.


[3] Her use of "economic freedom" differs from that term as libertarians use it. To them, it means low taxes and regulations. Her use is based on responses to this question:

Pursuing economic success through hard work. (Would you say that it should be very important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant, or very unimportant in making someone a true American)

Someone could give the "right" answer and still support a hefty welfare state.