Let’s examine some facts and make some observations. Multi-culturalism is failing in the places it is “official policy,” which is basically over much of Western Europe. Most of this planet is decidedly NOT multi-cultural at all. Human’s have natural tendencies to congregate in like minded groupings of race, ethnicity, religion, language and other cultural and physical distinctions. These are a few of the facts and observations. Let’s explore these elements.
Europe is facing a terrible crisis in multi-culturalism. Germany is admitting it is a complete failure. In other Western European nations – the UK and France especially, we know there is tremendous strife and societal issues specifically pertaining to institutional multi-culturalism. France is awash in violence and unrest because of it.
In the US we have a long history of multi-culturalism beginning of course with the enclaves of ethnicity all over this nation. Italians and Irish in Boston; Jews in the NY City; Chinatowns all over many major coastal metro areas: little Saigon in Northern Va; the Muslim/Middle Eastern haven of Dearborn, Michigan and other lesser known instances. As well, we have a state like Minnesota that are areas of heavy concentrations of Scandinavians, huge Eastern European populations in the Chicago area and many more such examples.
Clearly the US is awash in multi-culturalism and has been since Day One. Add in the concentrations of Black Americans in various places, especially cities and we see that the US is covered in the quilting of varying ethnicity, race, culture, religion, etc.
The problems and benefits are many, as are the realities. The US is a melting pot, but within that distinction there has always been a respect for native cultures of Americans. The concept behind the US is the melting pot theory whereby we come here and we all take equal advantage of the opportunities here. Outcomes are not part of the mix so long as the opportunity is equal for all Americans, and the chance at a shot to participate is present. I believe the success of Asians, Muslims and Latinos Americans is living proof of my thesis. Barring political considerations, most immigrants and first or second generation Americans would admit this is a wonderful nation full of hope and opportunity.
The US has been the most successful of all nations in actually practicing multi-culturalism. I know first hand of this. As South Vietnam fell my hometown of Arlington, Va was inundated with refugees from the South as the American’s pulled out. They congregated in an older business section known as Clarendon. I worked in that area for years and saw the event first hand on a daily basis. The refugee population was accepted with little strife to my recollection. This is the quintessential example of multi-culturalism in practice.
In our nation the practice is one of keeping one’s own culture at home and in enclaves but largely to simultaneously meld into the larger amalgam of American society on the whole. The entire culture of the US is to blend the cultures of everyone who has come here. The beauty of our way is to welcome all to live in both worlds – the unique and homogenized culture of America as well as to keep one’s older, home country, culture as well. In fact to use the overused term, we celebrate the diversity offered. Want good Vietnamese food, my old hometown is the place. Want the best Italian pizza, NYC is a great place for it. As well there are stores selling goods native to the home nations of these folks that service natives and non-immigrant populations too.
Of course we are not perfect, but to throw out the baby with the bathwater is a silly position to hold. Perfection is unattainable thus should not be anyone’s goal. Unlike much of Western Europe, our multi-cultural strife is minimal to non-existent for the most part. Of course there is the history that is far from perfect as well as the Black American’s issue of slavery and Jim Crow that lend to the cultural strife, but most of that had passed.
History has proven that when we are allowed to be together as culture and experience is swapped and melded together, our difference seem to mostly melt away. On a battlefield a Marine is a Marine and the color of the Marine’s skin, or his or her perhaps Latino heritage is not an issue at all. My point is given the chance, we are not too awful concerned with racial and cultural differences. When we are allowed to intermingle it goes rather well.
When politics enters the issue it gets all messed up with fingers pointed and accusations uttered. Politics is so ugly. It divides us along every measurable parameter. Left to our own devices we naturally find more in common with others than not, but once politics and the larger issues of power and control enter the fray suddenly we are differentiated from each other. It is shameful for sure. But it is one of the natural offshoots from the enclave mentality as well.
Anytime a large and identifiable group can be seen in one geographic area, the politics of race, ethnicity and culture come into play. It is the way it is, but it’s still a very sad and I feel, destructive reality. When politicians of any party seek power and identify us by our differences to make a focused appeal, the nation suffers. We are Americans and that means first and foremost our native cultural is kept at home or in the enclaves of like minded persons, but once we leave those places, we are first Americans.
As one of native heritage I do not feel any particular affinity toward native cultures. I am an American long before I am a “native American,” a term I despise. I don’t care what kind of American you are. I have more in common with a brother named Shaquan than I do a Frenchman visiting America. Yeah, the Frenchman looks more like me, but so the Hell what? Shaquan and I share far more than we differ.
Multi-culturalism works here because most of use do not make an effort to highlight our differences. Look in Europe where cultures are encouraged to NOT meld into the larger society, but instead, there governments have gone out of their way to promote the differences. This is a failed effort as we can clearly see from the ethnic strife in Scandinavia, France, Germany and the UK, where these governments labored to encourage citizens NOT becoming one nation.
We are far from perfect, but we have it more close to right and proper than anyone else. Look around you. America has far more diversity and was the first nation to promote and welcome immigrants from every corner of the planet. Of course there are many examples of perfection falling short, but still, we have tried longer and more successfully than any other nation on Earth. Look around and see that most nations are largely filled with their own native cultures and not nearly so diverse as the US.
Don’t let a lack of perfection ruin the progress we rightfully have bragging rights to. Perfection is a concept. Living and doing right by welcoming everyone is the real goal and our nation has done that fairly well. Be proud of our success instead of seeking to find the occasional chink in our armor. We have far more positive to celebrate than negative to highlight.