Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No Melting Pot?

Hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. Mine was okay. I spent all day cleaning yesterday (gah) and we were supposed to go to Hersheypark on Friday, a weekday, but it rained horribly so we went Sunday, the middle day of a holiday weekend.

Have I ever mentioned how much I HATE crowds? And lines? And inconsiderate people? Yeah. Fun.

But it's worth it for the end of the day, when we're leaving the park. Why?

Fresh. Popped. Kettle corn. Sold directly out of the cast-iron kettle. God, I love that stuff.

I didn't get any. Because we'd miscommunicated and run out of cash, and they won't take credit cards.



TIME Magazine recently did an interview with Pat Buchanan, who is apparently violently opposed to immigration. He said:

The country I grew up in was culturally united, even if it was racially divided. We spoke the same language, had the same faith, laughed at the same comedians. We were one nationality. We're ceasing to be that when you have hundreds of thousands of people who want to retain their own culture, their own language, their own loyalty.

You all know the one subgenre of romance I don't write is historical, and it was never my interest. But what I do remember from my AP American History class tells me Pat Buchanan is completely delusional.

Maybe his tiny corner of the U.S. in the early 1950's was culturally united, but they laughed at the same comedians because they had one TV show a day. They were force-fed their so-called "national culture," and I bet there are millions of people his age who would dispute his sunny memories.

Shall we also discuss the fact that aside from Native Americans, we are all descended from immigrants? And there's even debate about whether their ancestors evolved here or migrated from elsewhere.

I may be completely wrong about this. I wasn't alive when he was growing up, never mind during the history of this country's growth, and shouldn't mouth off about stuff I didn't experience myself. But it just seems very easy to pick and choose the memories that support your beliefs and ignore everything else.

He also said:

What do we have in common that makes us fellow Americans?

Freedom, Pat. Freedom to embrace our OWN culture, or blend cultures of all our ancestors, or create a new culture. Freedom to let everyone else do the same, without judgment or insult or infringement. That's the commonality I see. It would be nice if certain people would stop trying to force their versions of the "right" culture on anyone else and just let us be what is celebrated in that great old Schoolhouse Rock song...

...The Great American Melting Pot


Erica Orloff said...

Amen, Natalie. My husband is a Mexican-American, and my children identify themselves as Hispanic. As a white woman married to a Hispanic man, I can't even BEGIN to tell you how many people have inserted their feet into their mouths with prejudices about immigrants, Mexicans, Spanish-speaking persons, migrants (my husband was once one), and so on. While pregnant with one of my children at a "snobbish" gathering at a friends' house, I was told to hire a "Mexican" nanny because "they're so good with children AND my kids could learn Spanish while they're at it." You can imagine my reply--none of them knoew my husband's racial background. I am so proud of my children's cultural heritage (and my own--my father is Russian), but I find myself feeling increasingly . . . upset by the whole furor because it seems like Mexicans are the brunt of people's resentments--my husband's people crossing the border into Texas. Anyway . . . you're right. People like Pat--the GOOD OL' DAYS they long for? Black men were still being lynched in the South, African-American children were still drinking from other faucets, Mexican-Americans (my husband, brother-in-law, cousin-in-law, and father-in-law all PROUDLY served in the armed forces) were relegated to second-class citizens in Texas--"wetbacks." While fighting in Iraq, the Gulf, and Korea. Yeah, Pat . . . let's go back to those days.

Natalie Damschroder said...

He did say "...culturally united, even if racially divided..." but I don't see how he can separate the two.

My family has blended black, white, and Hispanic and is very much the richer for it.