L John’s Question

First off, thanks to Rafi for his insightful comment (see under “Defining My Terms“).

Second, in a comment to the Fanatic, L John asks if Southern California is going the way of Kosovo. He ponders whether Mexican-Americans and recent immigrants will demand their own country.

I’m really not qualified to analyze the situation in Kosovo, although I have at least one Serb-American friend whom I’m sure would love to post a comment (so go ahead already, dude).

But some obvious differences spring to mind:

The problem in Kosovo goes back hundreds of years and has been simmering, by some estimates, longer than North America has been on the map. Supposedly, the role of centralized religion (which we do not have in this country) plays a part. Also, about 90 percent of Kosovo is native Albanian. The odds of SoCal becoming 90 percent anything are astronomical.

Furthermore, in Kosovo, the ethnic divisions are fixed and stark. Here, in contrast, we prize assimilation. The idea is that people should adapt to American culture and then they will be regarded as rightful inhabitants. Witness that even most jingoistic Americans want people to “learn English, damn it!” But in Kosovo, no matter how long an Albanian lives among Serbs, he or she will never be regarded as Serbian (and vice versa).

Finally, the Balkans are often portrayed as a region where people look backward, which helps them preserve important cultural traditions over time. It also helps them hold grudges across generations. In America, we look forward, which is seen in our leadership in art, technology, and commerce. The drawback, of course, is that we barely know who our grandparents are. Despite the numerous flaws with our approach, it is unlikely to fuel centuries-long conflict. For all these reasons and more, SoCal will never be Kosovo.

As for the specifics of Southern California becoming a new nation, I can safely say that we will never let anyone take our movie stars and/or Disneyland.

Furthermore, the U.S. government has never given up native soil (protectorates and territories are another matter), and will not start with one of the most economically vital, densely populated areas of the country. Also, why would Mexico want a struggling nation on its borders? It has enough issues keeping its economy afloat without a fledgling land trying to find its way next door. So no organized government would stand for an independent SoCal.

By the way, I lived in Southern California for five years, and I never met anyone who wanted a separate country. I never even met anyone who thought it was a serious concept. Now, of course, maybe I just wasn’t talking to the right people. But by any standard, the people who advocate such a position are numerically and politically irrelevant. I believe the official term is “fucking nutjob.”

Regarding the flag story (see L John’s original comment under “Hello“), I know of only one incident, not the rash of events that has often been claimed. Basically, a dumb teenager staged a misguided protest (for which he was punished), which is not exactly the basis for a revolution.

In essence, most immigrants come here because they like and admire America, not because they want to form their own nation. Most first-generation Latinos, such as myself, have no desire to build a mythical Hispano empire. All this struggle over assimilation and cultural adaptation and separation is the messy byproduct of a country, rare in the world, where everybody wants to be a citizen.


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