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Steve Lunetta: The cultural tie that binds us together

Right About Now

Posted: July 11, 2010 8:16 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

This summer, we have a female college student living with us. This young lady is the daughter of some very good friends of ours who happen to be African. Going to the University of California, Santa Barbara and having no cash to travel home, it was natural that she would stay with us.

Carolina is a very intelligent woman who speaks like an American but has a very interesting view of our great nation. Like many blacks who come to our country, she is aware of our history but is not limited by it.

The other night, Carolina and I got into a complex discussion about the source of our nation’s greatness. I lamented that we are losing the very source of our greatness. 

Carolina, on the other hand, being trained by the liberal minds at UCSB, believes quite differently. Unfortunately, her beliefs are the usual liberal claptrap sprinkled into youthful naivete.

“The downfall of all great republics throughout human history,” I began, “was the loss of cohesiveness of the culture. The subdivision of a culture into smaller groups proved lethal to both the Greeks and Romans.”

“You are assuming that Americans were always cohesive, and they were not” Carolina countered.

“If you look at the past 200 years, you can see how America was generally a monolith, moving forward as a nation in one direction or another. We built values and goals, created a culture and became the most powerful country the world has ever known.”

“Much of our cohesion came from the embracing of a common language and set of core values. This process of assimilation became known as the ‘melting pot’ of America. No matter if you were Italian, Irish, French, Chinese or Mexican, the goal was always to assimilate.”

“But why was that important?” my young padowan learner asked.

“Because most immigrants knew that to fully enjoy the benefits of America, one had to speak the language to participate in the economic system. Giuseppe, Saul, Wei and Jose all insisted that English be learned as rapidly as possible.”

“So, the government helped enforce this practice?” she queried.

“Not directly. No law was ever passed that declared you must learn English. But, all governmental information was in English. Signs were in English. Voting information was in English. By not catering to immigrants, the U.S. government aided the assimilation process by giving people an incentive.”

I continued, “Of course, this was beneficial for both parties. The immigrant learned English rapidly and was able to enjoy the economic fruits of our nation by getting a job, starting a business and buying land. Our nation benefitted since we got a productive member of society with new ideas and energy. Everyone won.”

“So, how is that different today?” Carolina interjected.

“Simply this. Today, our government actively encourages individuals to delay or avoid the assimilation process. Government services and voting information are offered in a plethora of languages, enabling a new immigrant to avoid the difficult process of learning a new language. This creates entire groups and communities of people who have no need of joining the American melting pot.”

“My professor says that we are being culturally sensitive to individuals and that is very good,” she responded.

“While it appears to help in the short run,” I countered, “it actually hurts in the long run. We now create subcultures that are not capable of fully participating in our economy. Often, they need economic assistance since they are economically stunted.”

“Sounds like small tribes are forming,” observed the Nubian princess.

“You hit the nail on the head. We are forming numerous smaller groups that do not think and act as a nation. Self-interest and power become the primary objectives in these groups with little thought to the long-term consequences of their actions.”

“But isn’t it racist to force people to do it the ‘white way’? Your nation was made by white men and is still controlled by white men,” Carolina said.

“If you want to call it the ‘white way,’ go right ahead. But America is more than race. We are really a set of ideas than bind all men together. Things like the rule of law, all men are created equal, you can be anything you want to be, one nation and inalienable rights all define who we are.”

“So?”

“So, if you have groups of people who cannot understand these concepts since they do not speak the language, we lose a critical unifying factor that makes us all Americans. We lose the common culture that binds us together and prevents tribalism.”

English is the cultural tie that binds all of us together. Our nation will splinter and fall if we ever forget this critical lesson.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. He can be reached at slunetta63@yahoo.com. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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