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May 8, 2009

The Great American Melting Pot

Joe Charlebois

Throughout the 1970's, while a youngster would watch the typical Saturday morning television offerings from Hanna-Barbera and Warner Brothers cartoons, there were a series of three minute segments that were educational. These spots covered a wide spectrum of topics such as grammar, history, government, math, economics and science. Of course everyone knows these extended spots as Schoolhouse Rock.


The one spot besides Conjunction Junction that I remember so clearly is The Great American Melting Pot. The chorus says it all:


You simply melt right in,

It doesn't matter what your skin.

It doesn't matter where you're from,

Or your religion, you jump right in

To the great American melting pot.

The great American melting pot.

Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue.


It has as much meaning to me today as it did when I was 10. What I'm afraid to admit is that the melting pot has ceased to exist. The country has become Balkanized. Instead of Lady Liberty's Melting Pot, we now have a divided 10" microwave dinner platter with several nationalities occupying separate compartments, thus assuring that the ingredients won't blend together when cooked.


In contrast to previous generations of legal immigrants, who came by the thousands through Ellis Island and other ports of entry, the current wave of immigrants has not pledged their allegiance to the United States and do not enter this nation with the intention of becoming legal citizens of the country.


The influx of immigrants over the history of this country was designed to allow for certain numbers of foreigners to make their home here and assimilate with the eventual goal of citizenship.


What does citizenship entail? What have naturalized citizens had to go through? One must be a resident for an extended length of time; be able to read and write an ordinary level of English; be of good moral fiber; free of criminal activity; renounce allegiance to foreign lands and pledge an oath to the United States. Millions have done so over the years.


Today, more millions do not take the proper channels to immigrate. They have illegally crossed our borders in an effort to make a better life; all the while taking advantage of the good will of the American people. This non-stop migration that flows over our borders has not and – for the foreseeable future – won’t be stopped. Why? First, it provides cheap labor for many businesses, and secondly, it provides future votes for certain candidates as they look to grant these same illegal immigrants blanket amnesty.


America as a land of immigrants is more tolerant than any other nation on the face of the earth with regards to welcoming outsiders. We welcome with open arms those who don't "cut in line" but play by the rules.


Because of their status, these illegal immigrants have stayed in the proverbial "shadow" of society. This has created a permanent divide. Residents, who are in the United States legally and are on a path to citizenship, possess a desire to become Americans. Residents, who are not here with the blessing of Uncle Sam, don't care to abide by the rules. They, for the most part, are earning a substantially larger income than they would in their native country and are, in turn, taking that money out of the local economy and wiring it home via Western Union.


As long as this growing segment of the population withholds itself from the process of citizenship and true assimilation, there cannot be unity in this country. There can be no sense of national community.


Over history people have migrated for many different reasons, and every country has had difficulty accepting influxes of immigrants. The United States is no exception. The Irish, the eastern Europeans, the Chinese, and the Japanese are just some of the groups that have faced difficulties in establishing their new homes.


The latest and largest immigrant groups are currently coming from South and Central America and Mexico. They are finding opportunity and "wealth" that they likely would never have had in their home country.


But as stated earlier, a very small percentage is here with the permission of the United States. Regrettably the congressmen and senators, who actually want the law enforced, are painted with a "lunatic fringe" brush.


Politically the groups like CASA de Maryland and the National Council of La Raza (The Race) have branded those against this illegal activity as hate-mongers, racists, bigots, nativists and so on. This type of activity and community activism does nothing to advance this country but rather tears at the fabric that binds us together.


We can be a true melting pot again. We accept and welcome people from all nationalities to our wonderful land. We are a nation of laws. We need to abide by them if we are to sustain this wonderful mix of cultures, creeds and colors. We are – after all – Americans.


Lovely Lady Liberty

With her book of recipes

And the finest one she's got

Is the great American melting pot

The great American melting pot.

What good ingredients,

Liberty and immigrants.


Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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