Eleanor Clift on Immigration: 'A Lot More Americans Are Going to Learn Spanish and That's a Fine Thing'

"A lot more Americans are going to learn to speak Spanish, and I think that's a fine thing."

So said Newsweek's Eleanor Clift Friday in the middle of a "McLaughlin Group" program devoted in its entirety to looking at how America is responding to a growing Hispanic population as well as an ongoing economic expansion in Latin America (video follows with transcript and commentary):

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Will the growing Hispanic population assimilate as readily into the American melting pot as earlier immigrant waves like the Irish and the Italians did? Yes or no?

PAT BUCHANAN: Took the Irish almost a hundred years to do it, John. I think that it's going to be more slowly because the culture…


BUCHANAN: …much more different. Yes I do.

MCLAUGHLIN: Even though the United States today is multiracial?

BUCHANAN: The United States, people are moving into enclaves, John, by race and ethnicity, all over this country.

MCLAUGHLIN: “Irish need not apply” was the sign in the window when this date nation was dominantly what, UK settled?

BUCHANAN: No, this was dominantly British, in this country.

MCLAUGHLIN: Dominantly British, right. But it’s not dominantly British.

BUCHANAN: But it took, John, it took generations before the Irish were fully assimilated.

MCLAUGHLIN: Because of the setting into which they came! This setting today is different.

BUCHANAN: John, take a look…

MCLAUGHLIN: It's multicultural! It's multilingual.

BUCHANAN: It is not. John, look, you got a multicultural…


BUCHANAN: Go ahead.

ELEANOR CLIFT: I don't think the wave of the future is racial and ethnic enclaves in this country. I think people are and will assimilate, but I also think a lot more Americans are going to learn to speak Spanish, and I think that's a fine thing.

Interesting debate between Buchanan and McLaughlin that likely could be easily argued from both sides.

We are indeed a more multicultural nation than we were in the 19th century when waves of immigrants came from Ireland. However, one could make the case that the illegality of so many of the Hispanic immigrants in the country today creates a larger hurdle for their assimilation.

Even so, Clift's addition to the conversation was a rather typical liberal view concerning Americans learning to speak Spanish implying that it's the citizenry's responsibility to aid immigrant assimilation by becoming more like them. In previous centuries, it was the immigrant's job to learn English in order to facility his or her acculturation.

Unfortunately, in recent decades, this concept has been tossed aside not just here but in Europe as well where countries are mandating cultural changes to avoid conflict with an expanding Muslim population. More and more it's the natives that are required to assimilate rather than the new arrivals.

Makes you wonder what America looks like when it's all over. 

Immigration Latin America 2012 Presidential Newsweek McLaughlin Group PBS John McLaughlin
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