Tending to the American Melting Pot

I get tired of hearing how many of the immigrants in this country feel that they are not being treated fairly.  It bothers me that instead of wanting to become citizens of this country through proper channels, they would prefer to change/buck the system so that it works better for them.  It also bothers me when I hear someone say they are Italian-American, or Hispanic-American, or African-American.  We are one nation under God, We are Americans! Damn It!

Now don't get me wrong, I am an American of Italian decent; however I don't go around telling people I am an Italian-American.  I served my country as a soldier for 20 years, I never once said that I was Italian-American, I have always said I am an American!  Even when I was serving in Italy.

When my grandparents came to this country nobody gave them anything, they worked hard, they learned English, they learned our system of government and when the time came they became citizens.  That's how it's supposed to work.  All too often when people are given something without having to work hard for it, they don't respect it.  That is what I see happening today in this country.  Do you honestly think that if we just “give” citizenship to people that they will respect it? respect our country? or our way of life?

I believe Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he said:

“…any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all.  We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

Here is how I see it, if you want to be an American, then great, come to our country legally and become a citizen, learn our language (English) and learn our customs and courtesies including our politics, then take the test and become a citizen.

TR was big on “Americanization” and it was a favorite theme during his later years, when he railed repeatedly against “hyphenated Americans” and the prospect of a nation “brought to ruins” by a “tangle of squabbling nationalities.”

He advocated the compulsory learning of English by every naturalized citizen. “Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or to leave the country,” he said in a statement to the Kansas City Star in 1918. “English should be the only language taught or used in the public schools.”

He also insisted, on more than one occasion, that America has no room for what he called “fifty-fifty allegiance.” In a speech made in 1917 he said, “It is our boast that we admit the immigrant to full fellowship and equality with the native-born. In return we demand that he shall share our undivided allegiance to the one flag which floats over all of us.”

With that said, I received this email from my wife DeLeesa today, the article is quite impressive and with all the talk of Amnesty and Border Control it was a welcome read.  I hope you enjoy it also.


U.S. Promotes Assimilation Through Teaching of Political Values and English

By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When discussing lofty concepts such as “rule of law,” it helps to use real-world examples. So as Alfonso Aguilar spoke to a class of Vietnamese immigrants prepping for the U.S. citizenship test yesterday, he noted that in his parents' homelands — Costa Rica and Italy — people view stop signs as “recommendations,” not mandates.

“Just like us in Vietnam,” said Lam Phan, 59, a waiter, drawing chuckles from his classmates at the Long Branch Community Center in Silver Spring.

The mood was light. But to Aguilar, the classroom was no less than a front in an “assimilation movement for the 21st century.” As chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship, Aguilar has spearheaded a new federal initiative to get immigrants to embrace English and American political values at a time of surging immigration — a trend that he warned could lead to a “country of enclaves.”

“This swelling is going to continue,” Aguilar said in an interview before the class. “This is just to take preemptive action to make sure the process of integration continues.”

The government has launched a Web site that offers information to immigrants on benefits, English classes and volunteer work. It has provided training for civics teachers and distributed thousands of citizenship “tool kits,” with flash cards and booklets, to libraries, community centers and faith-based groups.

The idea, Aguilar said, is not to ask immigrants to shed their cultures but to help them adopt American political values.

“We want to encourage people to celebrate their roots but at the same time to develop roots to their communities,” he said.

…There is more of the article here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/19/AR2008021902504_pf.html

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

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