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What enduring image bespeaks hallowed American exceptionalism -- greatness fortified by immigrant labor -- than Melting Pot? "Come, you poor, tired, huddled masses: acclimate, pitch in, and enjoy your share of Yankee treasure." And scattered voyagers en masse exploited New World opportunities, by choice (fabled settlers, immigrants), indenture (poor whites), slavery (black, Native American, others) or conquest (southwest Hispanics).
Who said functional melting pots need volition or equivalence in transport or starting gates? Drafted armies coalesce just like musicians at a jam session. Prosperity did (and does) bless scores of immigrants, some fat cats commanding wealth beyond dreams of avarice (a president, celebrities, predatory banksters, or high-tech innovators). For the struggling 80% today, the results mirror the cracked Liberty Bell.
In fact, the fabled melting pot no longer serves its own citizen offspring. Immigrants aside, today's bewildered youth not only search hard for decent work, but indentured graduates shoulder more debt than prospects. Domestic masses yearning to be freely hired got sucker punched, along with outdated come-ons: America the equal playing field, where wealth is the reward for hard work; any child can gain citizenship, even the presidency; and parents struggle so children will live better.
Comatose American Dream
George Carlin cracks this bellwether: "The owners of this country know the truth: It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." A century of propaganda did lure foreign millions with steady work, plus "melting pots" of diseased, congested housing within company towns. Someone had to populate factories and plantations, build infrastructure (canals, bridges, roads and tunnels), fight the wars, and survive the twin blessings of boom and bust.
Rather than innovative melting pot, when unique ingredients strengthen the whole, economically America faces a distressed future, without vision or direction. We are wasting potential geniuses by not educating them or keeping them under-employed. Yet, for some groups, this is a Salad Bowl country wherein ethnic integrity prospers. Assimilation data is mixed: where else do urban China towns or Korean towns or Hispanic enclaves thrive, or ethnic/religious concentrations, like the Amish or Mormons?
Multiculturists savor "cultural mosaic," a single unity that respects diversity of culture. Reactionaries still dream of America as Tomato Soup, blending new tribes (like spices) without diluting the purer (original, white, Yankee) base. Stephen Colbert envisions America as Lunchables, plastic wrapped, distinct entities thrown together, unified more by geography than conflicted cultural and political assumptions.
Five reasons why America's melting pot fractured: