More Interpretation of the Univision Poll on Assimilation
August 05, 2010, 01:05 AM
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It is curious that the Associated Press has dedicated a second article to a July poll commissioned by the AP and Univision. Perhaps economic realities have forced AP’s head office to recommend thrifty use of recycled materials: publish poll results, wait a couple weeks and then rehash the information in a �new� article.

The first piece, AP-Univision Poll: US Hispanics mix hopes, strains, was published July 20 and was blogged by yours truly shortly thereafter: Cheerful Poll Results from Univision.

The recent item has been spiced up with warm and personal stories.

AP-Univision poll: Assimilation, cultural identity critical to majorities of Hispanics, Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tomasa Bulux speaks Spanish to her children, maintains an altar at home representing her Mayan culture’s view of the world and meets once a week with Mayan immigrants who speak her indigenous Quiche tongue.

At the same time, she’s becoming a part of the diverse, cosmopolitan city she lives in. Her Guatemalan dishes share space on the table with experiments in cooking Thai or Arabic food. She’s fluent in English and socializes with her European-American husband’s English-speaking family as much as with other Hispanics.

Bulux (BOO-loox), 42, an immigrant from Guatemala, is hardly alone.

An Associated Press-Univision poll shows that a significant percentage of Hispanics believe it is important to hold on to their unique identity even as they work to blend into American society. That dual view of their cultural space — a strong sense of heritage and a desire to embrace the United States as their home — challenges perceptions that a growing Hispanic population poses a destabilizing threat to national unity.

�It is part of life to adapt,� Bulux says. �But our identity is already within us — you can’t isolate it, suppress it, substitute it for another.�

The poll, also sponsored by The Nielsen Company and Stanford University, shows two-thirds of all Hispanics surveyed say it is important to maintain their distinct cultures. At the same time, 54 percent say it is important to assimilate into American society.

All told, about four in 10 hold both views — a seeming contradiction that reflects the daily balancing act that many immigrants and ethnic groups perform to retain their identity in a diverse, though still Anglo-Protestant-dominant, culture.

�Identity is multidimensional and people can see themselves as Hispanic and as Americans, and see themselves as culturally part of the United States and maintaining their Hispanicity, without seeing that as being internally in conflict,� said Gary Segura of Stanford University, an authority on Latino politics who helped design the survey. �Hispanics are part of a very long tradition here of incorporating their own cultures into the American mainstream.�

That last paragraph probably conforms to what liberal reporters regard as an acceptable form of acculturation, where America is supposed to change to accommodate the newbies. That’s the opposite of assimilation, where immigrants are expected to embrace American beliefs, and in turn are accepted as part of society.

Certainly diversity enthusiasts are aware that citizens still believe that immigrants should accept America’s customs, values and language, despite decades of pro-multiculturalism propaganda in the press. One example:

77% Say Adopting U.S. Culture Best Choice for Newcomers, Rasmussen Reports, June 06, 2008

A sizable majority of likely U.S. voters (77%) believe that people who come to America should adopt this country’s culture, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

While critics of this view often complain that it is discriminatory, 61% of those polled believe the United States is a �fair and decent� country, while 25% view it as �unfair and discriminatory� and 15% are unsure.

Only 11% think newcomers to America should maintain the cultures of their home countries, while 13% are undecided.

While the AP-Univision approach attempts to reassure citizens that the new mega-millions are just like previous immigrants who wanted to become Americans, it does so by slyly redefining assimilation. Some Hispanics may speak English and get along in American society, true enough, but the identity and loyalty of many remain with their tribe. Traditional citizens are supposed to think that squishy assimilation is just fine, but split allegiance is not compatible with the country’s historical social contract or with a national community. Diversity decreases trust, and Americans still prefer traditional values to multicultural ones.

Below, multilingual ballots (these are in Los Angeles) illustrate Washington’s appeasement of multicultural ideology.