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.
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We Can All Take A Stand In Our Own Way
Here is one example of an individual who thinks that every person count. This author has written a book to get his message out about terrorism, radical Islam, and has even included his own counter terrorism proposal. But it doesn't stop there. He wants to help veterans and our nation's first responders too.
You can go to his website to download the ebook version for free: