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Bloody Sam

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It’s difficult to find an issue so clear-cut that The Nation and eventheliberal New Republic agree, but both have great reviews of Sam Huntington’s new book, People Who Aren’t White Christians Will Destroy America.

My first temptation is to say that Huntington’s argument is un-American, but that’s not quite correct. After all, as Garry Wills points out, running people out of town on a rail is as American as declaring inalienable rights. Huntington’s views are deeply embedded in American culture: they are the America of The Birth of a Nation and the Confederacy, Jim Crow and the Trail of Tears, McCarthyism and assaulting Jehoavah’s Witnesses for not saluting the flag, Dred Scott and Korematsu. (Huntington’s argument that American citizenship should be defined by white skin and Christianity echoes Roger Taney, and his baseless fantasies about Latino secession mirror the logic of the Japanese Internment.) The tradition Huntington opposes is the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Civil War Amendments, suffragism and civil rights, Brown v. Board and Lawrence v. Texas.

In other words, it should be clear that with his crude reductionisms, atavistic racialism and loathing of the secularism of the American constitutional tradition, Huntington has become a hateful crank, Bill O’Reilly with a desk at Harvard.

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