This book was suggested to Kathy & me by Kathy’s dad — the full title is Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, and it’s a book about the increasingly bi-cultural state of California. I say bi-cultural instead of multi-cultural, because Hanson, who’s a UC professor who grew up in the Central Valley, argues that there are two basic cultures here: American and Mexican — and that all immigrants basically choose to be part of one or the other (he argues that Asian immigrants have been far more successful in integrating into American culture). There are lots of reasons for this, and lots of implications in the book, but the main argument that he makes is this: multi-culturalism as we practice it today gets most things wrong. All cultures aren’t equally good at creating stability, wealth, or a high standard of living, he says, and we’re silly to pretend that they are. He also makes that point that immigrants to California that have basically assimilated have done far better than those who have brought overmuch of their culture with them.
I don’t really know what I think of this book. It’s a little tough to even blog about, because the topic is so sensitive. But I guess I’m glad that someone is writing about it at least a little bit.