To what extent is their pessimism based on faulty assumptions?

BOOK: David A. Gerber, American Immigration: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford U Press, 2011)



Gerber begins by discussion a highly-influential book by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington that came out in 2004. What was Huntington’s concern, according to Gerber? What does his concern have to do with assimilation and anxieties about “perceived unwillingness of immigrants to become Americans?” Who is Gerber talking about? Who is anxious?

Huntington’s pessimism, according to Gerber, rests on a mistaken assumption about American history. What is that assumption? Why is it wrong? How does the history that we have studied in this class undermine Huntington’s assumption? Think of the immigrants in the 1840s and the Chinese workers who built the transcontinental railroad; as well as those who were working in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911 when it burst into flames? There are many more examples as well. How do these three examples prove Huntington’s thesis wrong? What kinds of contributions have these immigrants made to the growth and wealth of the United States?

If Huntington’s prognosis from the political Right is faulty, what does Gerber say about immigration analysists on the Left? To what extent is their pessimism based on faulty assumptions?


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