May 03, 2012
Diversity or assimilation?
By Russell Shaw *

By Russell Shaw *

I was nearing the close of Pat Buchanan’s new book, “Suicide of a Superpower” (St. Martin’s Press) when I read that MSNBC had fired him as a political commentator for expressing views offensive to political correctness as practiced at that left-leaning network. (“Left-leaning” as applied to MSNBC comes from the Los Angeles Times, which is well situated to know a left-leaning news operation when it sees one.)

The conservative Buchanan cited “Suicide of a Superpower” as the occasion for his heave-ho by MSNBC. If this book is actually did do him in, I can’t say I’m entirely surprised. It’s hard to imagine anybody agreeing with everything it says, and many will come away from it hopping mad. But matter for firing? Only in a setting where thinking unpopular thoughts is not allowed.

Buchanan is blunt on topics where others tread lightly or not at all. But bluntness is the only honest approach to his central theme: America’s ideologically-driven craze for diversity has gotten out of hand and is well on its way to doing us in. (In a book I haven’t read, “Coming Apart,” Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute makes a similar argument but, unlike Buchanan, deliberately omits race and immigration from his analysis.)

“Racially, culturally, ethnically, politically, America is disintegrating,” Buchanan writes. Ever since the cultural revolution of the 1960s, Americans have been losing their shared sense of identity as a nation.
“Out of one we have become many,” he says.

In tackling tough issues like race, immigration, and the wisdom of continuing international commitments left over from cold war days, “Suicide of a Superpower” says plenty to raise heckles. Even more annoying, the author bolsters what he says with facts and coherent arguments. That includes making the case that unchecked immigration presents a grave national problem whose ducking by Congress and the White House reflects the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of political Washington.

But has he got the story straight about Hispanics? Recently-arrived Latinos may be at the same early stage of assimilation that groups like the Irish, the Jews, and the Italians occupied a long time ago. Entry into an alien culture is bound to be a bumpy road—for the Spanish-speakers as it was for them. Give the Latinos time. The results could turn out more happily than Buchanan imagines.

The author, a Catholic, devotes a chapter to the Church, saying no institution in America has been more “ravaged” than it by cultural changes of the last half-century. Now, he says, Catholicism in the United States must “necessarily (be) an adversary culture” in order to survive. The assimilation of American Catholics has already gone disastrously far. Much farther, and American Catholicism will be finished as a viable cultural force.

That, however, underlines another problem—in the real world and also in this book.
Buchanan seeks a solution to disruptive diversity in the seamless assimilation of diverse groups into a unitary American culture. In other words: bring back the melting pot. Yet, as he’s well aware, American secular culture in its contemporary manifestation is far from being the basically healthy thing that it was back in melting pot days. On the contrary,  it’s degraded and destructive, as a few hours spent watching television or reading The New York Times should persuade any sensible person.

What to do? Diversity or assimilation? Or some yet-to-be discovered third way that combines elements of counter-culturalism and new evangelization? That’s worth another book. Maybe, without MSNBC on his hands, Buchanan will have time to write it.

Russell Shaw is the author of more than twenty books, including three novels and volumes on ethics and moral theology, the Catholic laity, clericalism, the abuse of secrecy in the Church, and other topics. He has also published thousands of articles in periodicals, among them The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, L’Osservatore Romano, America, Crisis, Catholic World Report, The National Catholic Reporter, and many others. From 1967-1987 he served as communications director for the U.S. Catholic bishops and from 1987-1997 was information director for the Knights of Columbus. He lives in Washington, D.C.
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:1-10


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Gen 1:1-2:2
Gospel:: Mt 28:1-10

Saint of the Day

Blessed James Oldo »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:1-10


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: