An outstanding post from Kevin Kim over at Hairy Chasms this morning. Go give it a read right now.
And then read this one courtesy of NPR.
Makes you think. It did me anyway. I left a comment on Kevin’s blog that was long enough to a post here, so that’s what I’m making it:
This was a good and thought provoking read. As one who leans right though I must say that I haven’t observed as the norm the kind of thinking on separatism that you describe. I don’t believe that folks should stay in their place, but rather we should all have the freedom to make the place we want for ourselves. It seems to me that the most extremist viewpoints on both the right and left are what gets everyone’s attention, while the vast majority of us just want to live our lives in harmony.
For example, Malkin can definitely be out there on the fringe, but the reality is most people think we should have a sensible and consistent enforcement of our immigration laws. Although Malkin used harsh rhetoric, most countries in the world, including Korea and Mexico, strictly enforce their immigration statutes.
I too fear we are losing our “unum” and that can’t be a good thing for a country that was founded on a “melting pot” principle. But having said that, it’s always been the case that Americans have lived together and yet stayed somewhat apart. Every major city has it’s Italian district, it’s Chinatown, etc. I recall when my kids were in high school our community was 50% black and 50% white. This was decades after Jim Crow mandated segregation. And yet, at basketball games the African-Americans by choice sat almost exclusively in one section of the bleachers. There was no friction or animosity, they just preferred to sit and cheer together. I guess that’s just basic human nature.
Assimilation is good and necessary but I don’t think achieving that requires abandoning your cultural heritage either. So, I think that while English proficiency is a necessary component of becoming fully “Americanized”, I don’t really have a problem with those who haven’t mastered the language. My attitude on this has moderated significantly over the years. In my hometown in California we had a huge influx of Vietnamese boat people. I’d drive down main street and couldn’t read the shop signs in the city I grew up in and I found that irksome. But after living in Korea for several years I came to really appreciate some simple courtesies like announcing subway stops in English. Now, when I encounter the ubiquitous bi-lingual (generally Spanish/English) signs, advertisements, ballots and the like, I’m okay with it. Although I still think bi-lingual education in the public schools is wrong. It seems to me that kids who are not compelled to learn English are being set up for failure and a minimum wage lifestyle. That is in no ones best interest.
After all these years I can’t converse in Korean, so maybe shame on me. I never worked on the economy there though and I did learn enough to get by (I can order my beer and ask for the bathroom for example). I do feel like a failure though when I can’t participate in the conversation when I visit Jee Yeun’s family. But many many times I’ve had Koreans apologize to me for their “poor” English. In their own damn country! And that embarrassed me because we wouldn’t have been talking at all if they relied on my limited Korean.
Anyway, I think we might be losing something that binds us together as a nation. But on the other hand, maybe we are just evolving as a nation. I do wish we’d have less “us and them” and more “we are all in this together”. I imagine you may call me a dreamer. But I’m not the only on.