Multiculturalism in the United States The side in opposition to multiculturalism firmly believes that it weakens America by keeping immigrants from adequately assimilating to the core values of America’s Anglo Protestant identity. This side believes that multiculturalism weakens the “social bond” of the United States by denying that immigrants need to assimilate to the language and values of the country’s dominant culture. The rise of non-English speaking communities is seen as a detrimental factor in the goal of achieving unity in American culture.
Opponents state that immigrants coming to the United States must always lose their previous culture from their country of origin, to be able to completely assimilate to and fully embrace American culture. As Norman Podhoretz explains, this is the price of immigration, a “brutal bargain” for the opportunity of a better life (Podhoretz). Multiculturalism has led to a movement of anti-assimilation, which many Americans feel is in severe contrast to the true concept of their nation.
As the sizes of immigrant groups grow, their subcultural patterns and language are sustained, which prevents immigrants from learning English and therefore from functioning within the larger society. The motto of the United States is “E pluribus unum”, meaning “out of many, one”. This motto, selected by the Great Seal Committee in 1776, “acknowledged that the thirteen separately governed British Colonies had banded together to form one inclusive nation, a country that stood independent from the British Crown, the United States” (Salvato).
Opponents believe that the lack of assimilation has led to adaption problems such as school drop-out, unemployment, and high crime rates. Some believe that educational multiculturalism demeans the nation’s traditional values and disregards the conventional history and culture. Many U. S. high school and college students today demonstrate greater knowledge of historical facts regarding minority figures, rather than information related to the founding bodies of their nation.
Furthermore, many opponents believe that by teaching about cultures that are in stark contrast to that of the U. S. , students are being taught all the wrong values that are important in a flourishing culture. Elan Journo explains in his article, “Multiculturalisms War on Education”: Multiculturalism seeks to obliterate the value of a free, industrialized civilization by declaring that such a civilization is no better than primitive tribalism. We are opposed to this Some opponents argue that multiculturalism is actually racism in disguise.
In their opinion, the meaning of multiculturalism is that “an individual’s identity and personal worth are determined by ethnic/racial membership—not by his own choices and actions” (Rand). This leads to the impression that a person’s identity is determined by skin color, and therefore people separate into ethnic groups. Those in opposition to multiculturalism believe that college students have become racial separatists, that they form “self-segregated” dormitories and choose friends based on ethnicity. The supporting side also believes that multiculturalism in education is an essential part of college.
Studies have found that appreciation for diversity is lacking on college campuses. Evidence shows that among the growing tensions on college campuses, “multiculturalism remains the most unresolved issue on campus [in the US] today” (Bikson & Law p. 91). Frequent campus reports of racially-motivated hate crimes imply that this remains a huge issue. Proponents believe that through the implementation of multiculturalism in education, students can come to understand cultural differences so that they can adequately interact with people of various racial, ethnic, and social identity groups.
Such skills are especially useful in a career where a person with such knowledge is able to effectively respond to the needs of all types of consumers. Proponents argue that the current “white supremacist” identity of the United States is based on a false sense of moral superiority and favor in the eyes of God. They believe that this identity is based on racism, genocide, and imperial expansion. Therefore, they argue that the traditional Anglo-American identity should be replaced with one that embraces multiculturalism and includes positive cultural aspects from various cultures.
They believe that by revising the identity of the United States and admitting the nation’s wrongful actions and negative aspects throughout history, we can come closer to achieving a more fair and democratic country. A major area on which proponents and opponents of multiculturalism disagree is their view of Anglo-Protestant values of the United States. One side believes that those values are completely positive, where the other side believes they are totally negative. It is necessary to recognize that just like any other culture, the United States has a history mixed with both positive and negative experiences.
Some American values may be viewed as possessing greater value and practicality for U. S. citizens, but we can also learn many positive aspects of other cultures to further improve out national identity. Opponents believe that it is completely disgraceful that many Americans know more historical facts of other cultures rather than the dominant U. S. culture, and therefore they believe that we must yield away from exploring the contexts of other cultures, and instead focus on permanently sustaining the nation’s original culture.
Proponents of multiculturalism state that because of the atrocities throughout the history of our nation, we must create a new national identity which recognizes the positive impacts of all the different cultures that make up our country. The truth is, neither proposition is realistic enough to become a reality. The proposal of the opposing side ignores the fact that because so many immigrants are present in our country, it would not be practical to teach only about the great successes of the United States. Furthermore, there are cases where immigrants come to the U.
S. at an old age, therefore it would be morally wrong for opponents to require them to wipe their memories clean of their past lives in their previous culture. As for the proponents who call for a new national identity while disregarding U. S. history, their suggestion is also problematic and unrealistic. While we may need to revise our national identity due to the growing number of various cultural groups, it would be wrong to ignore the original history and values of the U. S. for which the founders worked so hard and risked their lives.
This nation’s main concepts and values should be respected, but modification of certain areas should be allowed to accommodate the changing times and population of the U. S. Both sides also disagree on whether or not multiculturalism should be present in education. While it is important to have an adequate knowledge of one’s own national history, being equipped with comprehension of different types of people of various backgrounds can prove to be very useful in the professional world as well as everyday life.
Since each side complains that education consists of either too much or too little emphasis on multiculturalism, a balance should be reached between teaching United States history and the histories of different world cultures and nations, therefore allowing students to possess proper knowledge of their own heritage as well as becoming open-minded and appreciative of other cultures and people different from their own. During the last half-century, the United States has witnessed great changes in the characteristics of the population as immigration has continuously increased.
While it is true that as times change, modifications within the national culture may be necessary, yet regardless of these changes, the past has not disappeared, and some important aspects of the dominant culture must be preserved. Presently, the debate on multiculturalism is as heated and fierce as ever. There are many areas within this issue that both sides could come to terms with if they would just leave their polarized ends and meet somewhere in the middle. When this happens, time-costing arguments can cease, and progress can be made.
References DeYoung, Mary. “Multicultural Issues. ” Traverschool. Com. 23 Apr. 2007. Traver School. 29 Apr. 2007 http://traverschool. badger. k12. wi. us/administration/Administration. html. Hollinger, David A. Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism. New York: Basic Books, 1995. 1-4. Journo, Elan. “Multiculturalism’s War on Education. ” Bucks County Courier Times (2006). 1 May 2007 . Malik, Kenan. “Making a Difference: Culture, Race and Social Policy. ” Patterns of Prejudice 39 (2005). Parrillo, Vincent M. “Is Multiculturalism a Threat? Diversity in America (1996). 15 Apr. 2007 http://www. wpunj. edu/cohss/sociology/soc399/multi1. htm. Podhoretz, Norman. “Making It: the Brutal Bargain. ” Harper’s Magazine Dec. 1967: 59-67. Rand, Ayn. “Multiculturalism: an Assault on the Individual. ” Impact (2002). 29 Apr. 2007 http://www. aynrand. org/site/DocServer/newsletter_multiculturalism. pdf? docID=162. Salvato, Frank. “The Anti-Assimilation Movement. ” American Chronicle. 14 Dec. 2006. 1 May 2007 http://www. americanchronicle. com/articles/viewArticle. asp? articleID=17996.