Book Report: Mexifornia

What a book!  This one, written by Victor Davis Hanson, was alternately hard to read and fascinating.  It wasn’t hard to read in terms of reading level, though that may make the ideas in the book accessible to fewer people.  it was hard to read because of the raw honesty with which Hanson talks about issues of race and immigration.

As a small-town farmer and now university professor, he blasts what he terms the race industry for their tactics, which he claims serve only to further alienate those who are already aliens in California.  He waxes a bit nostalgic about his growing-up years and the approach to racial integration demonstrated by his early teachers.  But he also claims that the usually-ugly specter of modern lowest-common-denominator culture holds much promise for racial integration, even despite it’s otherwise putrid pallor.

As a classicist, Hanson offers a fascinating solution set, complete with alternate futures.  He’s wise enough to predict several outcomes, and because of this will probably be seen by history as prescient.

I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to debate or understand our public policy options with regard to illegal immigration.  At 150 pages, it’s almost short enough to be considered a long pamphlet.

Even if you judge this book by its cover, it still garners high marks.  The presentation and cover art are visually pleasing.

My two critiques:

  1. I think the writing style puts this book and its important message out of the grasp of some people.  The issues to debate will need all our minds and wills, and I’d hate to see these important thoughts lost because of the form they take.
  2. I’d like to see the author’s preferred solution set fleshed out a little more.  I guess this isn’t a policy platform, but a powerful discussion-starter.  I know that it goes a long way toward giving my future policy stance on illegal immigration a firm footing.

What am I thinking!?

Hi, Shinnfans. I know what you’re wondering. I know because I subtly implanted the question in your minds using the title of this blog post. You want to know what I’m thinking. If this was a play, here’s how the dialogue would pan out:

You (internally, maybe even a fleeting thought): “Andrew hasn’t been writing much lately. All he’s been doing is posting images and stupid little videos with internet babble or pictures that move too fast to be seen well.”

Me (Andrew): “Huh. Good point.” (Hangs mouth open, looking kind of dumb. Realizes audience is watching and quickly snaps into a brow-furrowing, hard-thinking expression.)

You: “Come on, why don’t you get right on that, do some thinking and reading, create some meaningful content, and give us something to either chew on, disagree with, or totally walk away from because it would require us to think too much.”

Me (Andrew): “Um, I’m kind of busy right now. Can I do that later?” (For a moment, that dumb look comes back.)

You: “No, we’re a demanding internet audience with short attention spans. If you don’t post good content at least once a day, we stop visiting. In fact, even this is getting kind of long. Can you wrap it up, please?”

Me: “Okay, how about a compromise? Can I tell you what I’m reading so you know what’s coming down the pike?”

You: “Hurry it up. Half of us stopped reading before your last line. The rest of us thought the phrase was, ‘What’s coming down the pipe.’ ”

Me: “You thought wrong, and I get to say so because it’s my blog. Pike in that usage refers to the old term for a road. Here’s my recent reading list, with comments:” </imaginary meta dialogue>

  • Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson. Really riveting reading. Tackles the question of how to approach illegal Mexican immigration. Heavily criticizes what Hanson terms the race industry. Hanson is a classicist, a professor at Fresno State, and a guy who grew up on a family farm in Selma, California, where he still lives.
  • Inside Today’s Mormonism by Richard Abanes. A little boring, this volume delves into the claims of Mormonism in pretty technical detail. I suppose the level of technical detail is necessary for the book to be authoritative.
  • In The Name of God: Understanding the Mindset of Terrorism by Timothy Demy and Gary P. Stewart. I just started this, and it seems like a pretty generic American defense of the War On Terror â„¢ and The Justness of Our Cause (also tm). Honestly, it takes a lot to impress me these days in a book about terrorism. I read the (dry) 9/11 Commission Report cover-to-cover. I’ve just started this, so it might end up better than it started. If it does, I’ll let you know. Both authors are military chaplains, and one (Timothy Demy) is an officer with whom I served in the Coast Guard.
  • The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. Speaking of impressive (see previous paragraph), this book blows me away. I’m listening to the audio book form, but it’s a great tome on the long history of Al Qaeda’s major players and the conditions (both personal and political) that gave rise to the organization. Reading this book feels like taking a Master’s-level course in Middle Eastern politics. I briefly considered buying a copy on Amazon.com and sending it to the CIA. Our government needs the level of understanding displayed in this book. The research is thorough and extensive, while the retelling of the story seems journalistic in nature with very little editorial content and a refreshing lack of a discernible agenda. I highly recommend this book.

Just for fun, here are some past posts that cover my reactions to several dimensions of the subject of terrorism: