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A State of Becoming


Victor Davis Hanson (View Bio)
Hardcover: Encounter Books, 2003.


"Classics professor Hanson is also, like generations of his family before him, a fruit farmer in California's central valley. He has employed immigrants, seen them flood his community during the last 30 years of mass flight from Mexico, and endured the crime associated with illegal immigrants. Hanson is immensely sympathetic to poor Mexicans, however, and the most powerful chapter here outlines the harried life of the illegal alien. But he hates to see the ordered culture in which he grew up drowned by an alien inundation who undeserving beneficiaries are Mexico's kleptocratic rulers, for whom an open border is a safety valve expelling the potential for democratic change." — Booklist (starred review)

"Victor Davis Hanson is perhaps best known these days for his works of military history and for his ubiquitous commentary on the Iraq war. But he is also a farmer who lives near Selma in California's Central Valley. Having spent his entire life there — he is a fifth-generation Californian — he has observed firsthand, over the years, the effect on his community of the new arrivals from Mexico. In MEXIFORNIA, he argues that immigration is different in degree from what was typical in America's past and its problems are now different in kind. The number of immigrants is high and steady, and assimilation is proving to be difficult. The reasons for this difficulty include, obviously, the home country's proximity. But the weightier reason is political. It has become unfashionable for our civic institutions — notably our public schools — to teach that America is an admirable country, with a way of life worth emulating. To the contrary, children are fed a diet rich in victimology and poor in patriotism. And of course in only gets worse in college.... Many self-styled champions of Latinos would have us believe that assimilation is mere cultural colonialism.... But this is nonsense. There is no reason that an ethnic heritage cannot be expressed... But it should not flourish, Hanson argues, at the expense of the core values that define citizenship in America." — The Wall Street Journal

"Massive illegal immigration from Mexico is radically changing the face of California, which is home to 40 percent of the country's immigrants. The ethnicity-obsessed Left and the free-market-loving right have transformed the Golden State into the epicenter of immigration.... The book is an honest discussion about the social and economic realities presented by an increasing alien population that is not assimilating.... Drawing upon his fifty years in the Central Valley, he mentions that a majority of the people in his life, including friends, relatives, and employees, have been of Mexican descent. Hanson tackles the nature of a new California and the chaos borne of unlawful and uncontrolled immigration. MEXIFORNIA explores aspects of the immigration debate that most are reluctant to mention publicly.... He writes with angst and compassion about his state and the American culture he dearly loves. However, he does not sugarcoat the serious strain of immigration upon our schools, prisons, hospitals and local governments.... In the history of civilization, separatism and disunity do not make happy endings. California is at a crossroads, and the country can learn from this. We're here, Hanson observes, because we did everything wrong during the last thirty years. But to fix it, he writes, we need not do everything right. It is time for an honest discussion. We must work for tighter borders, stricter rules for immigration and the assimilation of immigrants. Only by working toward these goals will we refine and improve our immigration policy." — Townhall.com

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