The United States in the modern age, 1960-present, has hosted an array of diverse peoples from all over the world. These people seem to largely mix in what’s known as the "melting pot" of America. We in South Mississippi have seen this to a small degree, but if one ventures to our larger cities, the difference is much greater. Many people will hail this phenomena as a positive for the country, while others bemoan the fact that the country is changing-and in many ways not for the better.
The U.S. has always been a source for immigration from the very beginning. The early settlers carved a country out of what was mainly a wilderness and established a new nation that would lead the world in liberal democracy. These early settlers were overwhelmingly English, Scottish or Scotts-Irish. They brought to our shores English common law which defined our basic human rights.
Additionally, these settlers brought a "British" culture that advocated individualism, property rights and a culture of hardwork to get ahead in life. As the nation grew, other European settlers came including large numbers of Irish and Germans with later large numbers of eastern and southern Europeans. Although these later peoples changed the fabric of society, within a short generation or two they were thoroughly "Americanized."
With the Immigration Act of 1965, the country changed immensely. Peoples from all over the world were now invited to come to America-and come they did in huge numbers. These new Americans, however, came largely from developing nations in Asia, Africa and especially Latin America. Although many quickly adapted to their new country, many settled in ethnic neighborhoods where they spoke the same language and retained their same customs.
Although this has always been the case, the new idea of multiculturalism advocates that immigrants, and their host country, welcome new cultures and languages by allowing them to prosper within their new country. This worked to a degree with small numbers of new citizens but quickly created a dual society within a country.
A recent study on Los Angeles highlights the idea of a multicultural city. Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities on earth. Los Angeles hosts numerous sections known as "Chinatown," "Little Honduras," etc. Although all looks well with the experiment, the reality is a little harsher. The study concluded that Angelinos of different ethnicities "bunched up" in neighborhoods where there were large numbers of people like themselves.
An ethnic map shows almost solid walls of different ethnicities living together and away from their fellow citizens. Additionally, the study concluded that this self-segregation produced high levels of mistrust concerning other ethnicities. In total, Los Angeles is a diverse city where no one knows, or wants to know, much about people not like them.
As the nation keeps getting more diverse, many people will welcome the idea of multiculturalism and the hoped-for end of a dominant culture. Others will long for the stability and familiarity of a common bond and culture. Only time will tell who is right, but Europe seems to be the ones that are currently on an even more crash-course of multiculturalism than the U.S…….
Murray Cowart is an editorial writer for the George County Times. He can be reached at