Cultural Diversity and the Impossibility of a True Melting Pot
The core standards of America are founded, in principle, on the basis of its diversity and equality among citizens. Begin- ning with its Declaration of Independence, the United States distinguished itself from other modern nation-states by establishing a country of men who were different but equal. Yet, despite the unifying images America projects within and beyond its borders, the idea behind E Pluribus Unum does not resound as one might assume it would.
E Pluribus Unum was originally intended to be both a representation of the union of the thirteen colonies and an expression of the United States as a country formed by immigrants of many different backgrounds. Today, just the literal size of America would suggest the existence of a largely varied social atmosphere, even before one considers its influx of immigration from countries all over the world. In a way E Pluribus Unum-"out of many, one-is a contradiction. Many different cultures are represented within American citizenry and within the country's physical borders, and they remain distinctive. The outmoded idea of America as the "melting pot" has been replaced precisely because people are not going to disregard their first cultural traditions to adopt "American" ones. Rather, their differences tend to perpetuate separatist notions and delineate cultural groups as clearly as borders delineate the end of one country from the beginning of another.
I believe that there are many advantages to embracing the diversity America has within its borders. Members of different cultures within the borders of one nation can benefit from each other, for example, by learning more about themselves through their variegated interactions. However, I understand the history of the foundation of this country-that this country has not always lived up to its motto. E Pluribus Unum may show the United States to be a country formed of many different cultures, and it may suggest the equality of all people, but even today many people, especially those of non-European ancestry, are often looked upon as secondary or non-citizens and are placed in a socially subservient position.
Since September 11, 2001, various communities within the United States seemed to be uniting for a time, despite the differences that typically undermine the original intentions behind E Pluribus Unum. Especially in places such as New York City, which is known world-wide as a mecca of diversity within its tightly confined parameters, people have been embracing each other as "people" rather than as "members of cultures other than their own." But there has been a backlash as well, an increase in violent types of discrimination and prejudice in and near communities of Americans whose descent is Middle Eastern. Many non-Middle Eastern Americans blame all people who appear Middle Eastern as culpable for what happened on September 11. So the attention paid to culture, now, is...