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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Wednesday, May 29, 2002
9:17 AM

Instapundit and Jane Jacobs recently noted a Michael Powell story saying more people are declaring themselves "American" when asked to declare their identity for the census. I'm sure I recall a brief discussion about this, possibly on Insta though I can't find it in his new archive system, questioning the trend but also concluding that it shows we're not becoming hopelessly hyper-fragmented in the backwash of multiculturalism (okay, that was me at the end there). That's certainly the impression given by the hed, "Rethinking Who They Are; Census Shows People Are Declining to Report Their Heritage," as well as the lede:

Cheryl Mason stands behind the counter of a sweet-smelling Caribbean bakery on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn and allows herself a good laugh. She's a Jamaican, always. And a West Indian, certainly. And a fresh-minted American, as she became a citizen two years ago. She owns a tape of patriotic songs and cries freely as she sings along with Kate Smith on "God Bless America." "I'm a West Indian," she said. "My daughter will be an American, plain and simple."

But the main reason for more people calling themselves "American" without a hyphen or a completely different identity seems to be older Americans with longer histories here finally giving up on the fatherland:

The biggest decline in named ancestries has come in the nation's the oldest immigrant stocks. Nine million fewer people identify themselves as being of German ancestry, while those identifying themselves as English and Irish fell by 5 million each.

The following seems more telling of our age, but maybe I'm just being pessimistic. There was a:

... 229 percent rise in those who describe themselves as sub-Saharan Africans. (In New York City, the number of people who identify their ancestry as sub-Saharan rose by 137 percent.) This increase reflects a surge in African migration to the United States. But it's also likely that some black Americans chose for the first time to identify their ancestry as sub-Saharan African.

Just to be clear, I'm all for African immigration, and there's something wondefully American about waving the flag of your ancestors--but not if it becomes a substitute for your first allegiance, which for many multiculturalists, it does.

Dual nationality adds a further complication. Dominican and Colombian immigrants are allowed to vote in the United States and in their homelands.

Why is this a good idea?

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