The Farmer finds more of his time occupied with crime and criminals – ranging from theft (of produce, tools, even a manuscript of Mexifornia); trespassing (with arms); littering and abandoning vehicles…”These roving criminals offer a stark contrast to their hard-working fathers and mothers – and make us wonder what is wrong with Mexico or America, or both.”
In Mexifornia, classicist, military historian, and farmer Victor Davis Hanson writes movingly about the deterioration of California caused by unlimited immigration and a mindset that denies the need for an aggressive program of Americanization. But he also praises the ambition of immigrants and the energy and lower cost of living they bring to the country. Thus, he takes on the “paradoxes, hypocrisies, and hilarities that characterize California as a result of changing attitude and more immigrants” Hanson’s reflections should become the reference point for national conversation about immigration and the proper course of action.
Hanson writes with a grace that makes any easy summary a distortion of the author’s soul: “Because of the disparate angles of my perception, this book is part melancholy remembrance of a world gone by, part detached analysis by a historian who knows well the treacherous sirens of romance and nostalgia, and part advocacy by a teacher who always wanted his students to be second to none.” Having grown up in the 1950s as a minority in the predominantly Mexican central-California town of Selma, Hanson now sees a cultural chasm between the Mexican-Americans he grew up with and newer arrivals. The latter have brought chaos with them and make life on his family farm not only burdensome but increasingly dangerous.
Hanson dedicates the book to his classics students at California State University, Fresno, 1984-2003. “For two decades I have driven up daily to the college campus at Fresno to teach persons, not ‘peoples,’ and so have seen that assimilation is still possible during the current immigration onslaught – if we forget group causes and the rhetoric of the multicultural industry, and simply concentrate on providing interested students with opportunities that match their often ignored aptitudes.” He movingly describes how these often illegal immigrants and their descendants have often been superlative, award-winning students, going on to graduate study in prestigious programs. (He and his colleague Bruce Thornton must run the best undergraduate classics program in the country.) These young scholars, to their disgust, are of course noisily acclaimed as their successes by the Chicano studies professional Latinos, who have no use for Cicero or Socrates. The university, dominated by French and German theory, is more the enemy of America than these Mexican-Americans.