As Tony Blair prepares to leave 10 Downing St., "Muhammad" is the second-most popular name in Britain.
As George W. Bush is finally deserted by his long-suffering conservative base, "Jose" is not the second-most popular name in the United States. But Spanish, as yet unofficially, is America's second language.
Such developments represent two obviously different phenomena -- the impact of Muslims and Hispanics on societies once aptly summed up as English-speaking peoples. What is similar is the phenomena's transformative effect: Britain is increasingly defined by its accommodation of a tiny (3 percent) Islamic minority; the United States is increasingly defined by its accommodation of a large Hispanic minority (14.8 percent), some considerable number of whom are here illegally.
Is this a shocking turn of events? You bet.
Of course, to anyone who remembers the "Behead Those Who Insult Islam" posters displayed in London last year, the Islamization of Britain may seem long obvious. But that doesn't mean it isn't startling to see, quantified, in a government tally of baby names, a reliable indicator of the increasingly Muslim future of Britain.
Similarly, to anyone beset by bilingualism, in both business and the business of daily life, the Hispanization of America is currently a fact. But that doesn't mean there isn't an almost-tangible gut check, say, in reading about the extent to which 2008 American presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats alike, are gearing up Spanish-speaking drives within their English-speaking campaigns to vie for Spanish-speaking voters.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., is the principled exception, believing, as he has said, that where a bilingual individual gains an advantage, a bilingual country suffers from irreparable fragmentation because the disappearance of a common language leads to the end of a common culture. If the U.S. Senate effectively legalizes 12 million to 20 million mostly Spanish-speaking illegal aliens -- a mainly Mexican bloc which, ironically, is anything but "diverse"-- the common language (English) and common culture (American) slip that much farther away.
It's inevitable. This Spanish-speaking demographic is simply too massive to assimilate -- even assuming the multicultural states of America were still in the assimilation business, which we're emphatically not.
And that's shocking, too. But more than shocking, this whole issue is depressing and distressing -- although I know I'm not supposed to say so.
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