From my day job at The Justice, through my Civil Affairs column. Unfortunately, you can’t put a YouTube video into a newspaper article, but you can on a blog, so I will include a public service announcement I saw a few years ago that really inspired this position of mine, that a melting pot society is generally superior to so-called multiculturalism.
My family came to this country from Belarus, France and Germany. A Jewish peasant and a French landowner, they did not have very much in common. One thing though that was similar was their attitudes toward the “homeland” that existed after their immigration to the United States. Upon immigrating to the United States, my ancestors never spoke of their homelands again. Instead, the identity—of “American”—was to be embraced with as much zeal as they and their descendants could muster.
This idea that anyone, despite her or his ancestry or ethnicity, is “American” is a central part of our society, equally as important as liberty or democracy. Indeed, this melting-pot society has been a core tenet of the culture for years. That is why the attack on it, by both racist conservatives and ignorant liberals, should be opposed by all rational individuals.
In recent years, the Republican Party has seen its base bitterly oppose any comprehensive immigration program on the grounds of an often irrational fear of immigrants. As we have seen earlier this year, when bipartisan talks on immigration reform are shut down following loud cries from the Republican base, there is a strong fear of waves of current immigration into this country.
Equally damaging, however, is the nonsensical belief among left-wingers that the holy notion of a melting-pot society can be replaced by so-called “multiculturalism.” This idea claims that, instead of trying to merge cultures together, we should preserve our differences side-by-side. While this idea of multiculturalism may be somewhat compelling for the ivory tower, its real-world implications are somewhat lackluster. Indeed, one does not need to look any further than the prejudice and hatred in Europe over recent Muslim immigration to see the flaws with this theory. A lack of assimilation and integration in those countries highlights populist bigotry against those recent immigrants.
Human nature drives us to bear suspicion and resentment toward those different from us. This unfortunate characteristic is best assuaged if the superficial barriers that separate us are taken down. In the United States, we see much less violence against immigrants because those immigrants are conditioned to engage and become part of the American culture
Fortunately, this is exactly what the melting pot does. While other countries still have problems with inter-ethnic violence, the problem has subdued to some extent in the United States. For example, while Ireland still has not completely solved its problem of Catholics and Protestants murdering one another, no such inter-Christian animosity exists within the United States. The answer is somewhat simple, as the two groups are so intermixed and intertwined, that a schism between them would prove infeasible.
That is because there is no such thing as a stereotypical “American.” There is no American ethnicity, no common ancestry. Affiliation with the United States is based on who you are, not on who your parents were.
It is foolish for the leftists to claim that, without multiculturalism, minorities are further disenfranchised. Indeed, they miss the entire point of the melting pot when doing so. Under a successful melting-pot society, no minorities exist, because the previously heterogeneous culture has become homogeneous. Observances and traditions of one’s native ancestry and ethnicity are not replaced by someone else’s native ancestry and ethnicity; they are forged anew. Immigrants to this nation have never adopted the old customs of the United States; they have actively contributed to help recreate American customs themselves.
The holidays in this country are truly a testament to that fact. As time goes on, the list of this country’s most esteemed days has been added to and changed to reflect the changing face of this country. Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Labor Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day all reflect distinct, though equally important, times in this country’s history. These times in our history, further, represent different waves of immigration and culture. Whether that is the Pilgrims, the Southern and Eastern Europeans who worked in the first factories or African-Americans, each holiday represents a different set of immigrants to this country.
There are a lot of descriptors one may use for me besides my nationality. Texan and Jew come to mind instantaneously. And though I do not mind being referred to as one of those labels, I do object to the equal descriptor of “Jewish-American,” which insinuates that these labels have equal ancestral ethnicity as my nationality. I take offense to this, most importantly because I dispute the notion that being an American does not encapsulate the essence already of being a Jew, or anything else for that matter.
Being a national of the United States is not an ethnicity. Accordingly, attempting to counterbalance one’s ethnicity with American nationality is somewhat foolish. Our national motto, found on all our coins, is “E Pluribus Unum,” or “out of many, one.” What this means is that we do not simply respect each other’s heritage and culture, we share in them. Your ancestry is my ancestry and vice versa if we both identify ourselves as Americans. That is the beauty of the melting pot.