"When E.F. Hutton talks," the famous TV ads for the financial firm once declared, "people listen." No one is going to make TV ads on his behalf, but the same deserves to be said of Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington, the most important political scientist in America. His last book, "The Clash of Civilizations," forecast the civilizational tensions that became obvious to everyone in the post-9/11 world. When Huntington writes, people listen -- or they should.
Huntington's prodigious credibility makes his warning of the possible end of the United States as we know it in his new book, "Who Are We?," all the more alarming.
He writes that "few Americans now anticipate the dissolution of ... the United States." But few anticipated the collapse of the Soviet Union either. Huntington warns, "The greatest surprise might be if the United States in 2025 is still the country it was in 2000 rather than a very different country (or countries) with very different conceptions of itself and its identity."
Huntington sees an America gripped in a "crisis of national identity." What is that identity? It is partly based on what Huntington calls The Creed, our belief in liberty, democracy, individual rights, etc. But The Creed has a particular source: America's Anglo-Protestant culture, which includes "the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English concepts of the rule of law, the responsibility of rulers, and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create heaven on earth, a 'city on the hill.'"
This culture forged a country where people from across the world could arrive and become rich, happy and free -- if they assimilated. Huntington writes, "Throughout American history, people who were not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants have become Americans by adopting America's Anglo-Protestant culture and political values." He notes that this is "an argument for the importance of Anglo-Protestant culture, not for the importance of Anglo-Protestant people." The continued vibrancy of this culture is crucial for the country's future. Without it, according to Huntington, The Creed that sprung from it is in danger of collapsing -- thus eliminating the two fundamental supports of America as it has been defined for centuries.