Your Name Due Date The American Melting Pot: Reality or Myth? Introduction When we look back on old documentary footage or watch period style movies we are often reminded of what the ports of the United States looked like at the turn of 20th century…
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Ideally, these immigrants would bring the best of themselves, blend those talents, gifts and skills, and become Americans, sharing the unified hopes and greater goals of this country. The idea of the United States as an immense cultural “melting pot,” at one time, seemed realistic, however today many opinions of whether that metaphor is appropriate have changed. Is America a cultural melting pot or is it now a modern myth that is no longer applicable? Discussion It was a Jewish immigrant from England that originally coined the term the “melting pot.” It was the title of play he had written that focused on the belief,”…that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a crucible of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility.”(Booth 1) There is no doubt that in the early 1900s that this was the general mentality of many of the immigrants that came to this country. Many wanted nothing more than to be Americans, and were willing to do whatever was necessary to legitimately earn that title. At this point in history, being an American was a title that mattered and was desired and respected. However, the mindset of, many immigrants and multi-ethnic Americans, today is not quite as endearing or geared to American ideals as a whole, as they once were. Many scholars have pointed out that there is lessening of common “dreams.” What Americans want is no longer a unified ideal. Some researchers have said that the attitude of native-born Americans has, also, changed. Once very tolerate and encouraging of immigration are now much more, territorial and, often, suspicious of immigrants that come to this country. The world has changed and it is, often, said that the United States is no longer a “melting pot,” but is more like a “salad bowl.”(Millet) Meaning that instead of becoming the culmination of many things into one thing, they are all independent parts that remain so, but contribute to the greater whole. However, there is a danger that this consistent insistence on segregating, embracing differences over similarities, could lead to a salad with unpleasantly divergent ingredients. Today people who find their ancestry in multiple cultures are not eager to let go of those roots. This is not necessarily a negative thing. We all have a right to acknowledge our ancestry. On many levels the modern society cannot deny any individuals that right to honor or celebrate relevant and important aspects of their culture. However, there are some immigrants who come to this country, in this modern age, who have no interest in being part of America at all, or of becoming American; they simply seek the benefits and freedoms that are available by being here. They have no intention of positively contributing to this country. It these people that can negatively taint the perspective of Americans born and raised in this country. Studies done in the late 90’s verified that most young people when asked to identify their ethnicity would choose a hyphenated answer; African-American, Asian-American, and the like. Very few of those surveyed were comfortable with answering simply answering, just, “American.”(Booth 1) It is this need to separate on some cultural level that negates completely the ideology that the United States can be considered a melting pot of cultures. When in truth much of the attitudes of current American citizens are not a unified one. Political ideologies are heavily differing. Social differences, and a number of cultural and
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I live in Springfield, Virginia. Springfield contains a melting pot of individuals.
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