ism could only be kept alive and creative by those who hadrnworked hard to learn those traditions and then li’e in them andrnbv them.rnI do not suppose that many will deny that science representsrna difficult and demanding discipline which requires hard workrnand a long apprenticeship. That is one reason why America’srngraduate schools are filled with foreigners and why, for example,rnonly 40 percent of the engineering degrees granted byrnAmerica’s Colleges of Engineering in 1990 went to Americanrncitizens. Even the Americans who do receive higher degrees inrnscience and technology are monoglot ignoramuses. (The lastrneducated generation of Americans was graduated in the latern1960’s.) When it was discovered a few years ago that nearly 20rnpercent of the research on a multiyear, multimillion-dollar researchrnproject on breast cancer, directed b Professor BernardrnFischer of the University of Pittsburgh, was fraudulent, one ofrnthe excuses for the years of delay in reporting the malfeasancernwas that the work had been done by a French Canadian, Dr.rnRoger Poisson, and since he published in French, they found itrnhard to check his results.rnThe traditions of self-government, like the traditions of science,rndate back to ancient Greece, to the fifth and sixthrncenturies before Christ, and those traditions are just as rigorousrnand demanding. “The functionaries of every government havernpropensities to command at will the liberty and property ofrntheir constituents,” Jefferson wrote to Colonel Yancey. “Therernis no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; norrncan the be safe with them without information.” Where didrnthe pleasing notion arise that libert}’ is a spontaneous growth,rnthat will appear without effort as long as it is not positively suppressedrnby tyrant or bureaucrat?rnIn the first generation of the Republic, the French immigrantrnwho called himself Hector St. John de Crevccoeur proclaimedrnthis easy doctrine in his famous book Letters from an AmericanrnFarmer (1782), “What then is the American, this new man?rnHe is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancientrnprejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new modernof life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and thernnew rank he holds. He becomes an American by being receivedrnin the broad lap of our great Alma Mater.” Peter Brimelowrnrcealed from his oyvn experience the modern version of thisrnvision. An immigrant comes to the I’nited States, gets a job,rnstudies for a few months, and, once a federal judge has wavedrnhis magic wand over him, he is told that “he is as good an Americanrnas those who have lived their whole lives here.” De Crevccoeurrnis quite explicit about the kind of human being who isrnso easily transmogrified into an American. “Men are like plants.rn… We are nothing but what we derive from the air we breathe,rnthe climate we inhabit, the government we obe, the system ofrnreligion we profess, and the nature of our employment.” Hernhad already explained quite bluntly, “Ubi panis, ibi patria is thernmotto of all emigrants . . . his country is now that which givesrnhim land, bread, protection, and consequence.”rnTwo generations later another Frenchman came to America,rnAlexis de Toequeville. Tocqueville was not only wise but educated,rnand he had no intention of settling in America. He saidrnthe United States “possessed two of the main causes of internalrnpeace; it was a new country, but it was inhabited by a peoplerngrown old in the exercise of freedom.”rnThere is no more important insight to be found in a workrnreplete «ith important insights. Europeans did not know of thernNew Worid until 1492, but the people who settled here had leftrnbehind none of “their ancient prejudices and manners.” Theyrnbrought their traditions and their education with them, Anglo-rnSaxon and classical. The grammar to be taught in the schoolsrnthat Jefferson wanted for Virginia was Creek and Latin grammar.rnFor him, American freedom was a restoration on new soilrnof “the ancient Saxon laws.” When he taught at the Universityrnof Virginia, Jefferson did not teach Public Policy like a modernrnpolitician. He taught Anglo-Saxon. This decision was notrndue to the newborn conservatism of a retired politician. OnrnAugust 13, 1776, the same year he penned the Declaration ofrnhidependenee, he wrote to Edmund Pendleton, “Has not everyrnrestoration of the ancient Saxon laws had happy effects? Is itrnnot better now that we return at once to that happy system ofrnour ancestors, the wisest and most perfect ever yet devised byrnthe wit of man?”rnThe Founders of the American Republic understood thatrntheir mission was to recreate in a new environment, to continuernin their own way the traditions they had inherited from thernpast. Science and democracy are not the only ancient traditions.rnThere are also philosophy and history and philology.rnChristianity itself was born, like Jesus, in the classical past, andrnits sacred texts survive in languages spoken and written on thernshores of the Mediterranean two millennia ago. The futurernmost Americans want will not be a spontaneous growth. It involvesrnentering into challenging and demanding disciplinesrnthat can be practiced best by those able to master the difficultrnlanguages that preserve them, Greek, Latin, and mathematics.rnIt is hard for Americans to accept the idea that participatingrnin creativity and progress means participating in traditions,rnnot to mention participation in traditions that are thousandsrnof years old. We want to believe that we did it our way. The aspectrnof multiculturalism that is most sympathetic to Americanrnears is the notion that our society and its values are “sociallyrnconstructed,” due to human choice and subject to humanrnreview and revision. Just as we walk through our supermarkets,rnfiling past aisle after aisle of breakfast cereals and toothpaste tornchoose from, so we can choose our lifestyles, our religion, ourrnsystem of values, our form of government. Well, maybe not ourrnform of government. That has to be democratic, of course.rnFew Americans ever reach that sure marker of maturity, thernrealization that we are the creation of forces and events we neverrnchoose. To begin with, we did not choose our parents. Thatrnmeans we did not choose our genes, or our environment for thernnine months following conception, or our life for the years followingrnbirth. Experts can predict the broad outlines of a child’srnlife when the youngster is two with more accuracy than we usuallyrnget from weather reports, at least in the Rocky Mountainrnarea. Regarding culture, we also did not choose our first language.rnIf that language is English, it was not our choice that seriousrndiscourse in man- important areas, including law, politics,rnethics, the phsical and humane sciences, to mention a few, isrnconducted in a vocabulary that is heaily Latinate, with a largerncontribution from Greek. It is a short step from realizing thernformative power of language to understanding that manyrnimportant activities in our society involve participation in traditionsrnthat go back to the Ancient Worid, activities that rangernfrom science to civil disobedience. A litrie attention shows thatrnthese and many other activities are best and most creativelyrnperformed by those who know the shaping origins as well as thernlatest slice of the cutting edge. Of course, we may refuse tornparticipate, but even that choice is limited.rnJULY 1995/19rnrnrn