Victor Davis Hanson // Hoover Institution
I live on farm beside a rural avenue in central California, the fifth generation to reside in the same house. And after years of thefts, home break-ins, and dangerous encounters, I have concluded that it is no longer safe to live where I was born. I stay for a while longer because I am sixty-five years old and either too old to move or too worried about selling the final family parcel of what was homesteaded in the 1870s.
Rural Fresno County used to be one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the United States. I grew up with first-, second-, and third-generation farmers—agrarians of Armenian, German, Greek, Mexican, Japanese, Portuguese, Punjabi, and Scandinavian descent.
Race and ethnicity were richly diverse; yet assimilation was the collective shared goal—made easier because immigration was almost entirely a legal and measured enterprise. No one much carried for the superficial appearance of his neighbors. My own Swedish-American family has intermarried with those of Mexican heritage. My neighbor’s grandchildren are part white, Japanese, and Mexican. The creed growing up was that tribal affiliation was incidental, not essential, to character.