Crevecoeur`sLetter III: What is an American?
Inthe letter (1782), Crevecoeurexplores the various perspectives of been an American. Crevecoeur wasconvinced that most Americans were made up of a mixture of immigrantsfrom different cultures. According to Crevecoeur, been an Americanreferred to European people or descendants of European, “English,Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes” (Crevecoeur61) who, if they were "honest, sober and industrious"(Crevecoeur91), would prosper in a welcoming land of opportunity which gave themchoice of occupation and residence.Crevecoeur’s argument on monolithic integration model isincompatible with democratic principles. Crevecoeur was a proponentof the assimilation integration model rather than the pluralistintegration model of immigrants in the United States (Crevecoeur56).In particular, Crevecoeur argued that immigrants lost their culturalroots and became Americans (Crevecoeur54).In this aspect, Crevecoeur’s monolithic integration approach ofexplaining the American immigration was incompatible with democracyprinciple his approach on assimilation was unjust, discriminatoryand illiberal.
Themonolithic integration model advocated by Crevecoeur was oppressiveand incompatible with democracy. According to the monolithicintegration model, immigrants left their home countries and thusshouldnot haveethnic heritage (Crevecoeur43).To this, the monolithic model argues that immigrants did not havetheir own home culture and embraced cultural aspects of the dominantwhite group in America (Martin 8). “The American is a new man, whoacts upon new principles. He must therefore entertain new ideas andform new opinions” (Crevecoeur56).Immigrants were forced to share and use cultural aspects of thelarger group so as to become culturally homogenous (Castillo56).English language was adopted by most immigrants thereby forgettingtheir cultural languages. This argument is anti-democratic bypromoting English as the official language, eroding bilingualeducation and enforcing restrictions on legal immigrants, andcitizenship (Martin& Midgley 21).
Furthermore,the monolithic integration model can be used to negatively influencevoting and voter registration. The monolithic integration modelembraces the assumption that immigrants get absorbed in the dominantculture and this is a recipe for oppression(Castillo 53).The monolithic integration model, regard some immigrants asminorities and this has been misused politically and socially to denycertain groups their constitutional rights (Martin& Midgley 21).For instance, the incarceration rates among the blacks are relativelyhigh compared to members of other race in the U.S (Castillo56).In this case, the monolithic integration model is incompatible withdemocratic principles of equality by promoting anti-culturalsentiments towards individuals deemed to come from inferior race orethnic groups.
Themonolithic integration model may be blamed for the continued unjustdiscriminatory practices witnessed in the United States today (Martin7).Since the late 19thcentury and throughout the 20thcentury the concept of monolithic integration model have had negativeimpacts on the immigration policy. According to Crevecoeur, the mainproponent of the monolithic integration model, “an American was anyperson of European descent” (Crevecoeur55).This perspective discriminated against other cultures such as theIndians, Chinese and the blacks.
Today,the American immigration policy is as prejudiced as it was in thenineteenth century(Martin 6).Immigration in the U.S is still done through the quota system forsome racial groups while other races such as the British, French andIsraelis have absolute immigration qualification (Martin& Midgley 36).Many blacks, Indians, Latinos and some Spanish are still consideredas ‘undesirables’ among the white American society (Castillo57).In addition, unlike the pluralistic perspective that recognizes thedistinct culture in the American society the monolithic integrationmodel has been used illiberally(Martin 12).American politics though liberal in policy framework, are illiberalwhen it comes to discriminating minority voice. It was not untilrecently that blacks’ political participation in American politicswas recognized.
Whilethe melting pot theory offers an elaborate explanation of flawlessassimilation, the perspective has been used as a basis of racial andethnic segregation(Martin 11).In the modern America, skin color has been used subjectively toharass, discriminate or stereotype particular communities (Castillo55).Marriages between the white Americans and the blacks are stillproblematic. Politically, the blacks do not enjoy the same level offreedom as the white immigrants from Europe (Castillo55).Furthermore, the film industry still mimics the racial segregationbetween different races and to an extent promotes the aspect of racesuperiority and inferiority.
Thepluralists view American culture as an integration of individualswith each with having a distinct culture. In addition, the pluralistperspective is less discriminatory and radical. The subordinate groupis not absorbed completely into the dominant culture this promotesmultilingual culture and relations.Assimilation ensures that the society get a feeling of homelandsecurity as each group is recognized (Martin & Midgley 22). Tothis end, the multiculturalists believe that homogeneity is to beachieved when each cultural group is recognized and treated on equalmeasure. Each cultural group has a right to retain its cultural rootsand integrity. Multiculturalists support loose immigration andadvocate for bilingual education and affirmative action for thebenefit of all cultural groups especially the vulnerable (Martin 8).
Whereasthe multiculturalists view the monolithicintegration modelas oppressive, the assimilationists view the monolithic integrationtheory as advantageous to government and the people (Martin &Midgley 7). Some see the discriminatory aspect of controlledimmigrations as benefiting the society economically (Castillo 55).Assimilationists support the monolithicintegration modelas one that promotes the will of the majority and not the minority.In addition, the asimilationist view the melting pot theory aspositive and promoting national identity (Martin 11). Asimilationistdisregard the multicultural perspective of separating citizens onracial and ethnic lines for special privileges (Martin & Midgley32).To this end the multiculturalists argues that, the pluralisticperspective enhances homogeneity and affirmative action.
Castillo,Susan. The Ambivalent Americanness of J. Hector St. Jean deCrevecoeur. 2010, page. 48-57. Retrieved24March2015, fromhttp://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1081&context=clcweblibrary
CrevecoeurJohn. Lettersfrom an American Farmer.New York: Fox, Duffield and Company. 1904. Print. Pg 48-91.
Martin,Philip. Immigration and integration: The US experience and Lessonsfor Europe. 2003.http://www.oeaw.ac.at/kmi/Bilder/kmi_WP16.pdf
Martin& Midgley. Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America. 2003,pages.48-51.http://www.npc.umich.edu/news/events/PRB-Monograph-Final.pdf