In 1620, approximately 100 Pilgrims set sail to a new world in search of religious freedom. For centuries after the Plymouth Rock landing, and in the 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants arrived from Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany, Ireland and other foreign lands in search of what would become the American Dream. This migration continued until 1882 when the federal government began to control immigration. The exclusion consisted of prostitutes, criminals, alcoholics, and Chinese, among others, from coming to our country. The federal government has been trying to redefine our immigration policies ever since. Today, the “U.S. immigration law is very complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works.”
For centuries, immigrants have come to America and brought their cultures with them. Because of the European immigration, we have many wonderfully delicious and various foods. We get to share in German Beer Gardens and Greek festivals. They celebrated becoming Americans by becoming a legal citizen and learning English and were proud and anxious to share their cultures with us. We can see the imprint of their influences throughout our country today. For the most part, we Americans welcomed them with open arms and have been proud to call ourselves a “melting pot.”
Russian Jewish immigrant, Israel Zangwill, coined the term “melting pot” based on the meaning that new immigrants were encouraged to assimilate into our culture.
So are we still a “melting pot”? In one case, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington instead refers to America as “tomato soup”. According to Huntington, America was established not by immigrants but by settlers who inherited culture from white Anglo-Saxon Protestants — WASPs. They, in turn, handed down to us the preeminence of individualism, English law and tradition, limited government, civic morality and the Protestant work ethic. Huntington asserted that these “core cultural values are under threat because of an influx of immigrants and their unassimilated cultures. A nation without a core culture won’t endure; hence, non-assimilation is bad news for him.”
Huntington saw immigrants as “spices” and wanted to “mix them up to serve as a cup of tomato soup.”
The newest and more popular term for America’s identify is a “salad bowl” or “tossed salad,” also known as multiculturalism whereby newcomers assimilate into our culture while holding onto their own country’s national characteristics.
Whether you agree with Professor Huntington that we are “tomato soup” or agree with pop culture that we are a “salad bowl,” one thing for certain: America is changing. In Southern California, our multicultural society can serve up just about any kind of ethnic food you can think of and offer you a place of worship for a variety of religions.
However, the bottom line is that we were founded on Judeo- Christian principles and if a newcomer would like to assimilate into our society, they should first become a citizen of the United States of America, learn to speak English, learn our history as it really was, not from revisionist historians, and respect our core Judeo-Christian values as previous immigrants have done. By not learning English, our history and our values, we will become a nation more in peril than we are now.
We have other big fish to fry based on the latest news about the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing (QE3), but we have to always be mindful of our immigration problem.
On June 16, 1858 at 5:00 p.m. in the Springfield, Illinois Statehouse, more than 1,000 Republican delegates met for the Republican State Convention. They chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.
There, Lincoln delivered an address in which he quoted Jesus from Matthew 12:25: “A House divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln said, “and Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”
Those are definitely words we can use today in 2012.