December 27, 2008

RIP Professor Huntington

Harvard scholar Samuel P. Huntington, who wrote extensively on the clash of civilizations and dangers of unbridled immigration, has died at age 81.

Update:  More on Huntington

Although Huntington was excoriated by the liberal media, his views were not quintessentially traditional.  For example, Sam Francis, discussing Who Are We?, wrote:

The flaw is that even though Mr. Huntington argues that America is not “based on a creed,” he believes there is a creed that in effect defines the nation. It’s just that the creed grows out of and remains dependent on the Anglo-Protestant culture.

The “creed” he describes is one that endorses the “political principles of liberty, equality, democracy, individualism, human rights, the rule of law, and private property”?in short, liberalism. Mr. Huntington is right that many Americans do believe in one version or another of such a creed, but there’s no reason to think it’s the defining trait of American beliefs.

It never seems to occur to Mr. Huntington that the creed he describes is self-evidently false in at least one important respect: It claims to be universal. But if, as he argues, it’s really the product of a specific culture and history (the “Anglo-Protestant core”), then it’s not really universal. It’s just what we or some of us happen to believe.

Regardless, Professor Huntington tackled issues that most academics wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, and for that he should be commended.


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