Just what does Cultural Assimilation mean? – Doug Irvin
Reading or watching the news, it’s easy to tell what groups are most represented in the media. There is positively a competition to see who gets the largest scare fonts, or who will generate the most column inches of coverage.
And the main issue seems to be group rights that are perceived to be trampled on by the government of that country.
Refugees from Islamic societies are in arms (not always figuratively!) because Italy dares to serve them pasta, instead of the types of foods they are used to. Mexican spokespersons (legal or otherwise) are fighting to gain benefits and rights for the people they represent. And curiously, the same people are often in the news supporting union measures that would limit or eliminate any jobs the migrant workers would do.
But it wasn’t that long ago – certainly within my lifetime – when such activities were not only not needed, they weren’t even contemplated.
I could claim membership in several groups. Of Irish and German descent on my father’s side, and Irish and Indian on my mother’s, I represent a large portion of Americans who also have mixed ancestry.
But that’s okay. I rather like it like that.
America has been described as a melting pot of nations and cultures. It’s never been so. Instead, it is a thick and chunky stew of varied tastes and shapes. It’s only been the last few decades that the stew has decided to curdle and separate. It can’t successfully; it can only be rendered useless. But that, I think, is the intention of the masterminds behind all the ruckus. There may or may not be a conspiracy, but it’s really hard to see how the idea of America can be destroyed without one.
For America is more than a country, a nation. Its actual borders are enclosed only by the hopes and dreams of people wanting a chance for themselves. And during the 19th and most of the 20th Centuries, the groups representing America expanded those borders not by maintaining their separate status, but by working together despite their differences. Communities abounded with ethnic clubs such as Sons of Italy, Oktoberfest societies, even Native American ceremonies where non-natives were allowed to observe.
We were different, together. America was most vibrant as a society when the differences combined to impel us all forward. And that is true cultural assimilation. It isn’t the destruction of cultural imperatives to create homogeneity of thought and practice. It is enjoying the differences that could separate us, but are allowed to unite us. We are different, but we are one. That is America at its finest.
But why is there such a fuss today about different races being oppressed? How did that idea get started?
Well, there have always been segments of society that sought to magnify the abuses different peoples faced. It’s true – America has had a great deal of prejudice and abuse in its history. And, yes, some groups had a greater proportion than others. But individuals of all races and cultures face obstacles. Some fail to conquer them. And some conquer their barriers and succeed beyond what was expected.
People like Helen Keller, who as a deaf-mute was expected to be stuck in an asylum all her life, yet became an internationally renowned speaker and orator. Mickey Mantle, who overcame the polio that struck him in child hood yet caused him to struggle all the greater to become a sports hero. Ben Carson, who as the son of a single mother of limited means and education, became an internationally acclaimed brain surgeon.
Animal scientists tell us that the most crucial time in an animal’s life is when it is born or hatched. A tiny lamb must struggle to gain its feet and walk; although wobbly, those first steps enable it to overcome other challenges. Birds must fight to break out of their eggs; if you do it for them, to save them the struggle – they’ll die. They MUST win their fight or they won’t even try to survive
And those struggles continue on past the birth process. But success breeds success.
Those seeking to make things easier for various races and groups are not doing them a favor, but are causing a hindrance. Those crying out against abuses are correct, if they can stop the abuse. But when they start demanding special favors, requiring more than others, they become traitors to their people.
America – as a system – is not designed to promote any particular group, but it is designed to allow those who struggle against difficulties to rise above the crowd.
And cultural assimilation? Today some say that’s the voice that whispers, “You aren’t any better than anyone else. Why even try? Don’t make waves. Go along to get along.” That’s not the way America succeeded. America never achieved greatness by just getting along. America was born in turmoil, faced dangers throughout its existence, and now faces another one.
To make America great again, it’s not enough to proclaim the glories of our ancestors, from wherever they came. America is great when we make our ancestors proud of their descendants.
Never mind what they did; what are you doing? Be different: stand out.