A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

March 3, 2007

America: The Melting Pot? America The Chef Salad?

You will perhaps note that the topic line is unusually full, but this issue cuts across all of the major lines in our society, and may be of interest to many of the stakeholders of our nation.

This starts as an education thread, because this was a question I asked of my students today in our social studies class.  This is obviously a political issue, and will likely be a major point of emphasis in the ’08 campaign.  This is also a religious issue, because one of the factors involved is how we view mankind, and that is certainly impacted about how we view or do not view a relationship with God.

Traditionally America has been called “The Melting Pot”.  Now, when I think of that analogy, I am reminded of my mother’s beef stew.  She would put everything in there, from onions to carrots, of course the meat and gravy, with some potatoes, peas and corn thrown in for good measure.  No tomatoes, please.  They just don’t fit in mom’s recipe.  Then let it simmer for about….oh…..ten hours ought to do it.  The result is a wonderful dish, where all of the flavors have blended together, and may retain some of their original flavoring, but somehow they also taste very much the same.  It’s a good dish, and for many I’m sure it may fill you with memories of a good hot meal on a cold winter’s day.  I wax melodramatic.

 On the other hand, at its polar opposite is a chef salad.  You know the type with the various lettuces, sliced peppers, radishes, cukes, roast beef slices, ham slices, turkey slices wrapped around slices of American, cheddar, and Swiss cheeze, with a devilled egg thrown in on the sides.  With this meal,  you can enjoy the separate tastes of each, and they ingredients retain their individual identifications, which make them unique.  You can also enjoy combinations of the ingredients and debate endlessly, does it taste better as individual bites of ingredients, each enjoyed for their own characteristic, or does the combined taste of these individual characteristics which makes a totally different taste experience satisfy the taste buds more satisfactorily. 

In our nation, not so long ago, well, okay when I was in school, which was a long while ago,  we expected those who came to give up much of their individual identity, and to take on the flavors of the other ingredients – the meat – or in the case, the “American” cultural identity, and while they may retain their own flavor, it is subdued, and more or less overcome by the dominant ingredient, or by American culture.

Currently, the trend is for people to keep much of their cultural heritage, but to accompany it with Americanism.  This method allows for the individual differences to be highlights in our society, and it also states as good as these things are individually, the real experience of tasting the chef’s salad is to have all the ingredients, with their individual qualities still at the forefront, but combined with all the other wonderful tastes simultaneously.  Sounds refreshing, crisp and delicious.

 So, what’s for dinner?  A chef’s salad or a hearty bowl of potted stew?  Both are good for you. Both are in their own way delicious, and there is no categorical better food.  Perhaps one of my students summed it up best.  The best dinner would be to have both, and enjoy a full range of what America has to offer. 

I see hope in the future at times when I hear kids talking like that.



  1. Hi Voice,

    I’m trying to understand the distinction your describing. The analogy is sensible, so i’ll try to do it justice.

    Rather than what I see, let me describe what I believe is the reality, without writing a novel.

    I was taught melting pot. People came here from everywhere, and were what they were. They learned customs, language and about government and commerce. They developed the same heroes, saw the same movies, served in the military, built churches and synagogues. Eventually, a cohesion was gained, a mutual respect for the nation as a place of freedom and liberty, something and somewhere worth defending.

    America is not, and never was, an abstract ideal of truth and justice, that is, not a creedal nation. People don’t fight and die for pious platitudes, the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. People risk life and limb for the place where they and their families live. A place.

    At times, America has stopped all immigration to allow for assimilation of foreigners. This will never happen again. Modern America is heading down a new path where massive numbers of non english speaking, non Christian or Jew, and those resolute about avoiding melding with the place, language and customs of their new home.

    America is filling with those who will remain loyal to the nation of their birth, using America for wealth building and legal services, at most stooping to dual citizenship. This is not a good path to be on for cohesion and protection of sovereignty.

    So, admiring the many cultures of the world, learning about customs, faiths, dress, and so forth is interesting and informative. Maintaining these very personal traits as American citizens has always been a part of the fabric of the nation, the chef’s salad.

    But, building a cohesive, loyal population willing to sacrifice, and die for this place where we live will never flow from a tribal, fractured, self interested population that will always call somewhere else home.


    Comment by icanplainlysee — March 3, 2007 @ 6:49 am | Reply

  2. So perhaps the kid was right. A good dinner would be both the melting pot meal and the chef’s salad.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 3, 2007 @ 6:51 am | Reply

  3. Well, I think the melting pot has seen it’s day. Great concept, but no will to make it work. It’s just too easy to allow marginal concepts like moral equivalence and political correctness to Oprafy the situation, where hurt feelings, and not national security, takes precedence.

    Comment by icanplainlysee — March 3, 2007 @ 6:58 am | Reply

  4. […] this out: America, Melting pot? or Chef’s salad? […]

    Pingback by Bank of Death to America « I Can Plainly See — March 3, 2007 @ 7:16 am | Reply

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    Comment by Austin — May 13, 2013 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

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