Are we still a Melting Pot? Should we still expect people to melt in?


“W
hat
ever happened to the positive promotion of the Melting Pot?”
asked
kmonster in a comment on our Web site, responding to yesterday’s post about the negative attitudes
many Americans have of Arab Americans. “I think we are stronger
as a nation for having different cultures, different ideas, different
societal contributions.”

   As
I reported earlier this week
, our survey showed that about half of the general population
believes that 9/11 was caused by a fundamental conflict in values between
Islam on one side and Christianity and Judaism on the other. Many people tell interviewers that they
support abridging the civil liberties of Arabs and Muslims.
   The Melting Pot is a metaphor of the traditional, strict, assimilationist
theme in American society: When new immigrants came to America,
it was expected that they (or their children) would gradually adopt
mainstream American values, losing their cultural distinctiveness.
   Is
this traditional theme still appropriate today? Should
America be a Melting Pot? Should we expect people to melt in?

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