Has American society gone from being a “melting pot” of ethnic groups or have we become a “salad bowl” in which each ethnic group maintains their cultural distinctiveness?
There was a time when immigrants were expected to assimilate, which is to absorb into the cultural tradition of their new country of choice upon arrival. But has this new multiculturalism given rise to the demands that citizen hosts adapt to the immigrant ways?
Are we getting a dose of what the Native American experienced when the white man forced his ways onto tribal traditions?
I grew-up in Miami and experienced first-hand the hammer of multiculturalism. When the island of Cuba became a socialist state in 1959, Cuban refugees poured into Miami just 90 miles away.
The Cubans were determined to maintain their culture at all cost, because they believed they were going back soon. The Cuban kids I grew up with were, for the most part, just like me, except they were not allowed to speak English in their own home.
The Cuban refugees were aggressive business-minded people who worked their way into and overtook control of the local banking industry. Then they became successful politicians and took over local politics. When you have control over the government and the money, you own the town.
It wasn’t long before most jobs required bilingual employees and Spanglish, I mean Spanish was the main language of the town. We either had to “assimilate” into the Little Havana lifestyle or move. We used to have bumper stickers that read, “Would the last American leaving Miami bring the flag” and “Would the last American leaving Miami turn the lights out.” I refused to learn Spanglish. I left in 1982.
I experienced a little cultural diversity training with APD gearing-up for the 1996 Summer Olympics. In order to be good ambassadors for the city, we learned not to extend our left hand to anyone of Middle Eastern descent because that’s the hand they wipe with. And you know what they are wiping. We were cautioned to never put anyone of Asian appearance handcuffed and, on their knees, because that is the position of execution in their country and they’re apt to fight for their lives for no apparent reason.
Unless you are a Native American, we all have an immigrant history. When my Scots-Irish ancestors migrated to these United States in the early 1700’s in search of fair-trade laws and freedom of religion most landed in the Appalachian mountain region.
This brash spirited bunch settled into large kinship groups, extending southward from Tennessee to Texas, reportedly a bit argumentative with a disdain for authority. My relatives and I all came from the same hillbilly hollow in West Virginia. Grandpa used to say we have relatives stretching from President Zachary Taylor to Billy The Kid.
Although I was Scots-Irish-English, you would never hear me speaking Gaelic or sporting a plaid kilt. My heritage embraced their new country and its traditions. And yes, we introduced some of the finest sour mash whiskey to the countryside that made you cross your eyeballs on the first sip. My grandpa was famous for his secret white-lightning recipe and stayed one step ahead of the revenuers for years.
Seems to me, if you decide to move to a new country you ought to learn and adapt to that culture. If for religious or cultural beliefs you just can’t muster the change, you probably need to stay where you’re at.
I’m starting to understand Sitting Bull’s angst towards George Custer more and more every day.
The Precinct Press is authored by W.J. Butcher, a retired 26-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Send comments, kudos, and criticism to: firstname.lastname@example.org