The Melting Pot
At one time different ethnic groups voluntarily segregated themselves as wanted to preserve their culture. Due to intermarriage of various nationalities and religions this has changed. Many of the cultures are disappearing. Families have dual cultures and religions. It is difficult to define what American Culture is.
Living in a Mid-Western city of 60,000 brings back memories of the many cultures brought about by immigration to our country. Although they segregated themselves most of the different cultures coexisted harmoniously, but as throughout history and still prevalent today there was overt anti Semitism, blacks barely above the slavery line and Germans in the same position after WWI as Japanese after Pearl Harbor.
Society then could be compared to the tribal system of the Arabian and African cultures. Instead of tribes there were neighborhoods of immigrants with their own ethnic cultures. Most neighborhoods had a tavern with a room in the back with a family entrance where ethnic food was served. It was also a place for neighbors to visit with each other. The Danish had two establishments, one where they served Danish food, open to the public the other for Danes only. The same could be said for Italians, Polish, Norwegians, Czechoslovakians, Armenians and others. Besides preserving their cultures they also brought different skills that helped our country grow. The Blacks were also segregated, but not by choice.
The only non-immigrants were the Indians, but they had been driven off their land and put on Reservations. In the larger metropolises and on the Coasts, the Orientals had their own little cities within a city which are still in existence today.
Immigration had been a hot topic for a number of years before they decided to concentrate on the budget. Budget revisions will end up as usual, an effort in futility. If one remembers the whitewashed history of our country, little has changed since the1700s. I can’t in one article reveal the similarities of our problems today as a repetition of history. We have progressed technologically; other than that we are socially and economically nearly the same, making some changes by replacing the slaves from Africa with Mexican. Instead of plantations we have Latinos working in inhumane conditions on corporate farms and menial jobs in motels and working for low wages for the privileged. We must remember that they are humans with the same desires for their families and life as more fortunate humans.
Historically society has had a constant battle by different groups to see who is on the bottom rung of the ladder. Those above the bottom of the ladder are in a constant vigil, averting any challenge from groups beneath them. The changers worried about today are the Mexicans and lately the Muslims. The Jews have been feared by the establishment as their emphasis on education makes them a competition for those on the top rung on the ladder. Another reason for political concern about immigrants and Muslims may be used by politicians to cover failures in the American system. Those in power Democrats or Republicans keep their power by diverting the anger of citizens to groups without the resources to defend themselves,
H.L Mencken a social critic of the 1920s, whom I read at the urging of my father, wrote-“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. By turning our attention to them by inventing and exaggerating their dangers so the failures of the American system could be concealed”. This started in the days of the Founding Father and used through history. Immigrants and people on welfare are among these hobgoblins and as nonvoters their interests could be safely ignored.
Other hobgoblins used are countries likeCuba,Iraq,Iranand others to keep us on edge and minimize the many unsolved problems in this country. How much money has been spent and lives lost by exaggerating their danger to us. Looking analytically at the most wars we have been part of, how many were really fought for our freedom?
Returning to my concerns about our habits of behavior in failing to consider consequences and our haste in making decisions; what would be the consequences if all the Hispanic farm workers moved back to Mexico, especially at harvest time or those servicing motels and hotels or employed by those employing them at low wages. I’ve always wondered why Caesar Chavez, a man I admired, didn’t use these tactics in negotiating a contract for better working conditions and wages? I witnessed this tactic during the labor movement in the 30 which was successful.
In conclusion; people attempting by force to bring democracy and humanitarian treatment to other countries would do well by looking at our attitudes of those in our country. That Sheriff in Mariposa AZ. is a person we should be ashamed of in his inhuman treatment of illegals in his prison, but always reelected. We could also compare the interment of war criminals in Guantanamo. For a country proud of its Judeo- Christen nation there is much room for improvement in this area. We must treat all humans as having dignity and good as well as undesirable qualities.
To be continued.