Friday, April 05, 2013

Nativism and Multiculturalism Are Twin, and Unsuccessful, Attempts to Resist the Melting Pot

Nativism is a rear-guard reaction by declining sectors of the old elite.  It does not work.

Multiculturalism is a rear-guard action by declining sectors of assimilating minorities. It does not work, either.

The great American melting pot works relentlessly to turn the middle of American society into Americans.  Our culture is changed somewhat by each group it assimilates, but is more continuous than changed.

And this is a good thing.

9 comments:

Kerri said...

I wouldn´t quite call them twins, but they are different sides of a crooked mirror. Multiculturalism seeks to celebrate cultural differences, whereas nativism negates them. They are both dysfunctional in practice for the American myth but at least there are elements of multiculturalism that can be incorporated--after all, embracing diversity is part of our myth. But the negative of both is that they seek to freeze culture in a sense that simply is not natural or possible--to try to put the brakes on something in the name of preserving it, only to end up crushing it in the process. However, another big difference is that nativism comes from the "heres"-- the staus quo, and multiculturalism (usually, and sometimes on the part of well meaning bleeding heart "heres")is from the side of the newcomers. There is a power dynamic there, and while I think they are both playing on the same see-saw I don´t think they are truly twins.

gruntled said...

Fair enough. Neither of them can really slow assimilation, but nativism can have the more toxic effect of preventing legal immigration.

Kerri said...

Bingo. And I think they add fuel to each others´fire. I tend to think of nativism as the far right and multiculuralism as the far left, but I´m pondering. Would you agree with that?

Nancy Botwin said...

I bet the nativists would shut up if we stopped illegal immigration. That's the rub...

gruntled said...

Nativists have historically been worried about immigration, not whether the immigrants were here legally or not.

Nancy Botwin said...

Let's stop illegal immigration and we can test your point. It's kind of moot until then...

Kerri said...

History already tested it, Nancy.

Nancy Botwin said...

People change Nancy...

Nancy Botwin said...

Kerri