29 Mar 2022


Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Book Report

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Moving through Huntington’s book “Who Are We?”, it becomes clear that the author draws a particular attention to a fundamental change in terms of the way Americans interpret their national identity. Obviously, the U.S. society has undergone transformational rearrangements from the perspective of the prominence they are currently giving their ideological awareness. The focus here lies in arguing that throughout the last decades, the United States can be characterized by facing extremely unfavourable challenges, which are likely to contribute to the deterioration of national longings among people. In accordance with Huntington’s controversial new book, the U.S. society passes through serious trials, incorporating such as mass immigration, which logically results in multiculturalism. In addition, it is worth saying that 21st century trend of Hispanization occurs to have a detrimental effect on national self-images within the United States. Due to the excessive ethnic diversity within the society, the author argues that America’s elites emerge to be deprived of a unique national colouring. 

Throughout the opening chapters, the author puts an accept on the identity crisis within the United States, making an emphasis on what accepting a particular set of beliefs actually entails. Obviously, Huntington makes mention of concrete components of American culture in order to demonstrate America’s core values. In the fourth chapter the author pays special attention to the set of Anglo-Protestant values that assimilated into U.S. concept of life. In the fifth chapter, the author contemplates upon America’s attitude towards religion throughout the last three centuries. The sixth chapter addresses the possible ideas of how to settle on a solution to the problem of identity crisis, whereas the seventh chapter focuses on the challenges that Americans are forced to pass through on the way to reviving Anglo-Protestant values. The eighth chapter communicates the dimensions of 21st century immigration, alluding to a dire need to come to understanding its complex social effects. In the ninth chapter, the author focuses on predominately the large amount of Hispanic population within the United States and basically its negative impact on the core values of national identity. The tenth chapter explores the specifics of 21st century population issues, highlighting actual multicultural problems. The eleventh chapter is targeted on showing all the crosscutting issues within today’s society; a peculiar thing is that Huntington pays special attention to the paradigm shift in the approaches to explicating the significance of various public movements. In the last chapter, the author aims to come up with the idea of how to shape and preserve national identity in order to eradicate the lack of peculiar national identity. 

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It becomes apparent that Huntington makes an attempt to convey the idea of an identity crisis within the U.S. society by addressing a profoundly complex framework of America’s history. To be precise, much attention has been given to British settlers who made a substantial impact on the system of America’s beliefs. Apparently, British settlers made a great contribution to the formation of U.S. distinct culture by cultivating certain religious principles, English language itself, and a peculiar attitude towards being a low-abiding citizen. One should also take into consideration the fact that Britain’s legacy can be seen in engraining the concept of individualism that many people continue to adhere to today. Significantly, a vast amount of immigrants who settled down in the United States were deeply driven by Protestant values and followed the society’s rules grounded on the platform of Anglo-Protestant culture, respectively. Despite the fact that Protestant values were much promoted within the U.S. society, and, thus, emerged to be an integral part of national identity throughout the last three centuries, it is possible to observe an essential identity crisis today. The focus here lies in claiming that America’s sense of national identity has been badly distorted by a number of immigrants who bring new distinct traditions and evoke the devaluation of status of being an American citizen. 

Moving through Huntington’s book, one cannot help but become aware that the author elaborates on the possible outcome, which consists in that the Unites States is likely to occur as a “creedal nation” driven by a particular political concept. Huntington suggestion makes it certain that the U.S. society “...can be based on only a political contract among individuals lacking any other commonality.” (Huntington, 2005, p. 19) In addition, the author provides the hypothesis that the trend of Hispanization is most likely to affect the society in a way that America acquires the signs of a bilingual country such as, for instance, Canada. Moreover, there is a high probability that the “various forces challenging the core American culture.” (Huntington, 2005, p. 20) will sooner or later take a zero-tolerance stance on other races and cultures. Yes, this very scenario occurs as seemingly most probable even though it increases the chances of racial conflicts. Apart from the three abovementioned possible outcomes, the author distinguishes one more scenario that he evidently does maintain; to make it clear, Huntington focuses on a dire need to revive Anglo-Protestant culture, which would endow Americans with an opportunity to put an end to the erosion of national identity. 

One cannot but encounter the fact that Huntington’s main theme consists in convincing the readers of a dire need to continue “...centrality of Anglo Protestant culture.” (2005, p.31) It is worth saying that the author considers the culture as predominantly a set of people’s beliefs, including societal as well as political principles. In addition, Huntington asserts that the notion of America’s cultural framework incorporates the suggestions as to what is worth following. In Huntington’s view, despite the fact that ethnic identity occurs as inborn trait, it is possible to introduce new cultural values, which can help strengthen America’s national identity. Significantly, moving through the text, it becomes evident that the author contemplates upon the problem of identity crisis from the perspective of conservative worldview; and due to the predominance of conservative ideology, many critics tend to consider the given book as mostly flawed. The thing is that conservatives always took a stance against the immigration, claiming that diverse society will indisputably result in the devaluation of national identity. All in all, one should be conscious that the work “Who Are We?” by Samuel Huntington is definitely worth reading, since the author succeeds in conveying the urgent need to strengthen national identity. Notwithstanding this fact, there are still obvious flaws in the author’s arguments.

Surely, the author definitely exaggerates the trend of Hispanization within the United States. Secondly, it is worth saying that Huntington is seemingly wrong when claiming that only an increased focus on Anglo-Protestant values can help revive the sense of belonging to one nation. The last but not the least, the author mostly criticizes the overwhelming immigration, rather than offers some appropriate measures, which would help minimize possible detrimental effect. 

Yes, much attention has been given to the Mexican immigrants’ unwillingness to adjust to U.S. deeply-rooted cultural principles. To put it another way, Huntington argues the idea that unlike past immigrants who followed America’s core values, Mexican immigrants are reluctant to adhere to the American traditions. Although the trend of Hispanization incorporates the promotion of many distinct customs, the idea that Mexican immigrants do not assimilate into America’s culture emerges to be quite arguable. Certainly, the prevailing majority of US-born children whose parents are Mexican immigrants feel a sense of solidarity with the United States and consider themselves as Americans, respectively. As for Huntington’s viewpoint on the importance of Anglo-Protestant values, one should first understand what this culture actually entails. Obviously, the United States has to promote multiculturalism, which occurs as an integral part of 21st century reality. The last weakness can be seen in the way Huntington discusses the negative impact of immigration; the problem here lies in that the author mostly emphasizes all the inappropriateness of further waves of immigrants and does not actually focus on a raft of measures, which would prevent Americans from facing the lack of national identity. On the whole, one should understand that the book does not provide clear answer to the question of how to adequately handle the challenges related to immigration-fuelled U.S. society. 


Huntington, S. P. (2005). Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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