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Kumbaya

Diversity -- to a point


Jeer A
letter writer to the Wall Street Journal has discovered the limits of diversity.

And in the process, he sheds a little light on the roots of "otherizing" in America.  He writes:

"The more different and 'exotic' a religious community behaves, or looks (especially regarding clothing, head and facial covering), the more it avoids casual social contact with others, the more it will encounter disdain, distaste and distrust. Americans are delighted to celebrate diversity—but only up to a point." 

The solution, he suggests, is total assimilation, embracing the mores of the prevailing culture.

That one-sided view of assimilation is the model most European countries have followed. And we've seen how well that has worked.

Assimilation American-style has always been more complicated.

As long as immigrants accepted the American values of equality, opportunity, individualism, and hard work, they were free to choose which aspects of our culture they would adopt and to retain as much cultural baggage from their home countries as they liked. 

Assimilation in America has always been a generational process, moving at different speeds for different groups and sometimes even moving backwards for a while.  And the majority culture hasn't been static either; it has adopted elements of immigrant cultures, making them its own.

Assimilation worked in America because it has always been two-way.

Multicultural America is not many cultures living side-by-side in a harmony built on ignoring each other or denying our cultural heritage. It's one culture drawn from many, constantly changing.  

We are not a people who believe in "diversity to a point."  We are a people whose diversity is the point.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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