The U.S. Melting Pot - Myth or Reality?

Why We Still Need to Salute the Flag

Is the U.S. melting pot theory myth or reality?

It did exist - at least for awhile. Every school age kid in the US learns how immigrants from all over the world came to the U.S. in the 1800s through the mid 1900s and was able to overcome initial prejudice and establish themselves as the status quo. These folks were not just from western Europe either (although the bulk came from here). Chinese immigrants, for example, were given a terrible time in the 19th century, yet were able to overcome this and thrive.

Is this still happening today? Many people say no.

What then is the reason behind this no? Is it by happenstance or choice?

I believe that it is by choice. Many groups prefer the "salad bowl" approach instead of the melting pot method.

At first glance, the "salad" approach seems very appealing. The goal seems to be the retention of the unique flavor of a given group. Nothing wrong with that. Variety is, afterall, the spice of life. But what happens if the "salad" is not bound together by the "salad dressing" so to speak? It becomes nothing but loose pieces that can easily fall out of the "bowl".

What constitutes this "salad dressing binding"? It is of course any common thread that we can all relate to e.g. saluting the flag, 4th of July celebrations (in the U.S.), celebration of veterans, national anthem, common language etc. These are pretty typical binders for any nation. These binders help us to feel connected to each other despite our differences.

What then is the danger of losing these binders and being a "salad" instead of a melting pot - unraveling as a united people when "unreasonable expectations" of special interests (salad chunks) supercede the well being of the whole with anger, stereotyping and hostility prevailing.

Wow, that is opening a can of worms. What consititutes "unreasonable expectations"?

Is it unreasonable that people of different walks of life be treated fairly and with dignity ? Of course not. It is absolutely imperative that we continue to move out of the stone ages that marginalized so many groups of people (based on race, ethnicity, sexual preference, social status and so forth). But it must be done in a way that does not vilify members of other groups. To do so is to only create strife, resentment and division.

What are examples of this vilification?

Unfortunately, one of the prime examples of this can be seen in politics.

I remember the days when to be a Democrat or a Republican meant to have a different perspective on what the size and involvement of government should be. People from either party listened, heard and debated the points from the other side. People who reported the news were unbiased. Of course, editorials could express opinion (this is the land of free speech). I remember learning in 5th grade that the neutral reporting of the press in our land was a major distinction from the Pravda in the then Soviet Union. It is not supposed to be opinion spun as fact.

Today, I have met people from both political parties whose only viewpoints about their own party and of the opposing party is political rhetoric that bashes opposing political figures and points of views. What is served by bashing and ridicule? Division and obsfucation of truths happens. Anger, hostility and closed mindedness also results. When we lose respect for others' rights to voice their opinions just about politics we are in danger of losing respect for people as a whole. We need to accept the unique voice that each of us brings so that the being different in the salad bowl doesn't mean opting out of the salad bowl because of not feeling part of it.

So what's a salad to do? Chill! Let's agree to disagree. Let's agree to recognize each other. Let's agree that we may not always be able to understand each others special perspective but we that all have them - even those who are in dominant classes. All people's perspectives should count because although people align themselves with distinct groups (e.g. blacks, whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, democrats, republicans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists...) we still have individual realities that are just of that group. Hating and or sterotyping any group is ignorant and divisive -whether that group has minority or majority status. We all overlap.

Why not agree just to quit bashing and start respecting? Perhaps then we will be able to redefine what a melting pot is - not the loss of individual cultural norms but the melting of everything that makes us human.

What then are unrealistic expectations? Special treatment at the expense of another seems unreasonable. But even requests for this should be heard, weighed and decided upon in a fair and respectful manner.

The melting pot does not need to be a myth. We can keep our differences and still bind by respecting each others differences.

What then does saluting the flag and all the other "salad dressing binders" do for us? The saluting of the flag symbolizes our goal - that we want to be one people. Sure saluting and the other binders are rituals - but not meaningless - they help us by reminding us - to stay on track to reach our goal.

Comments 14 comments

R. Martin Basso profile image

R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from California

VERY insightful and resourceful writing! Well done Lori!


lori763 profile image

lori763 8 years ago from SWFL Author

Thanks. I have been particularly swimming in this multicultural thing since I was personally confronted as being part of the dominant white oppressive side of things. I thought - "Who me? I have not oppressed anyone and everyone interests me".

I think that the oppression model/reason/excuse needs to be reexamined.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 8 years ago from California

Another great hub. I totally agree with your assessment of a salad that wants to forget the fact that it is a salad and not a collection of separate vegetables. I once wrote a short story about a pot of clam chowder wherein the ingredients began fighting about their uniqueness and individuality. The cream felt that it was really the whole point of the soup, but the clams insisted it was they who were the most important. Meanwhile, salt, pepper, butter and assorted other bits were idignant about being marginalized and all refused to participate. The soup ended up tasting like crap, so the cook dumped the whole pot out into the dirty back alley street where it was picked apart and eaten by rats. (Yes, I probably do need therapy, but hey, you came up with the salad thing, so I'll get you an appointment on my way out.)

Anyway, I'm 3 months late finding this (and you're other work), but I found you now. You have a fan.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

And I followed Shadesbreath over hear and am glad I found you, also. LOVE the salad analogy and think it is very apt for America today. The melting pot does seem to have 'melted away' so to speak. I was in the Kaiser Permanente pharmacy the other day and there were signs reading "Cover Your Cough" in no fewer than 6 different languages.

Today among the differences between Democrats and Republicans seem to be should every American be forced to speak English as primary language? Not to mention, of course, the whole immigration isue, (e.g., put up an electric fence to keep any more Mexicans out -- good idea or bad idea?).


lori763 profile image

lori763 8 years ago from SWFL Author

I am delighted to have fans let alone those whom I admire as well! Thanks a bunch!

Mighty Mom - I am compassionate about the plight of those who would gain a better standard of living by coming to our country. It is another one of those issues where it is easy to let our feelings rule instead of what makes sense ( it goes back to the overused but nonetheless appropriate example given by airline personnel for who uses the oxygen mask first -i.e. you got to be strong to be able to help someone else).

Thanks for your comments and visit:)


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

Lori, I loved this! Great hub and great writing! I am a fan!

Thanks to Shades for pointing you and your hubs out to me.


lori763 profile image

lori763 8 years ago from SWFL Author

Hi GWendymom,

I am delighted! This is so much fun (getting comments and interacting!)

Mucho thanks to Shade man for sending everyone over!


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

Yea, that Shades is a pretty good guy. It is fun, I love it here on Hubpages.


gjcody profile image

gjcody 8 years ago

Very interesting perception. If only all the people could see things as you have spelled them out.

Interesting ..how something can be said ...and said well ..but someone will have a reason to say "but"!!

I like your views and as shadesbreath said in his recent hubs ..."perhaps in time!" Yes perhaps in time we can all come together and unite in thought and deed.

Good hub ...and good prospective ..my best to you!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Very interesting and insightful! I watched my boys' Veterans Day assembly yesterday that was cloaked in red, white and blue. I looked around the room that had blacks, whites, hispanics and a fair number of hearing-impaired children (based on the 4 hearing aid teachers who were translating the songs into sign language). Salad or melting pot - my kids don't even think about it. But being nearly 40 (sadly) I notice and I do.


lori763 profile image

lori763 8 years ago from SWFL Author

And isn't it great that they "don't even think about it".


Mr Nice profile image

Mr Nice 7 years ago from North America

I believe the same because there is only one race and that is human race.


Name:Unknown (not given LOL) 6 years ago

You guys have no life. You are so fricking stupid. I wish you would die. Go shoot yourself or hang yourself i dont care. goodbye panseys!


MIA 2 years ago

Why would any body go to a restaurant and cook their food. Cooking it in some boiling water in front of you. Boil steak - YUCK. And to pay a lot of money. Im surprised people go there. They should pay me not the guy in the kitchen. Later that night I threw it all up. YUCK YUCK YUCK

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