In an over-capacity banquet room at the State Bar Convention, Fox News correspondent Juan Williams challenged and entertained attendees, as he gave his view on a changing America. He urged Arizona lawyers to step up and play a part in defining communities and policy, especially as they reside and work “in a state that is a laboratory.”
Williams used demographic and Census data—and his own reporting experience—to examine an anxiety that he says many Americans express. The numbers are startling, he said, as the U.S. population booms—perhaps up to 400 million in another 20 years—and the perceived gaps between groups widen.
He said that people he speaks to say, “This is not the country I grew up in.” They do not know where the people who work at the 7-11 come from, and the schools are filled with a more diverse group than ever before.
This is symptomatic, he said, of an anxiety felt by many.
There is a perception, he said, that the newest immigrants are unlike those of previous generations. Now, he said, assimilation is almost a dirty word, and many newcomers may not necessarily even want to become citizens. The “melting pot” has become a “mosaic,” with all the component parts remaining distinct.
Williams spent the majority of his speech exploring a different divide, not racial, but generational. He described his visit to Florida communities where seniors are living longer and more actively than before. They have high expectations of life, and they will likely challenge efforts to provide more services and benefits to a younger generation—especially one comprised of people who seem foreign to them.
In response to a question about diviseness, Williams said that, “It is self-defeating that the United States has not adopted the DREAM Act.”
He said that his heroes are “people like Sandra Day O’Connor and Thurgood Marshall, who acted as architects of society.”
As a law dean once told a young Marshall, “You are either a parasite or a social engineer.”
In that regard, Williams urged those assembled to “stand up and be a leader.” In the ongoing conversation—sometimes battle—over immigration, conflicts between the young and the old, and racial differences, lawyers must decide to make a difference.
Especially those in a laboratory.
In the muck and the mire that sometimes marks public debate, Williams said, good and involved citizens reach in to locate the value.
“Keep your eyes on the prize,” he ended.
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