Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society

A few months ago I came across the book, "The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society " by Arthur Schlesinger. It was fascinating to find someone like him (an old school liberal and a thinker/historian) express concerns about the direction in which the emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism is taking America. It felt good, too, to find that my ambivalence about rampant multiculturalism is *not* a knee-jerk reaction or worse. I highly recommend this book.

Having grown up in India surrounded by have-nots, I am a strong believer in not only a minimum wage, but a living wage. I feel that illegal immigration is being used to subvert wage protections for American workers. Although the tide seems to have turned over the last few months, we are still a long way from any real action taking place, because even high profile Democrats are too afraid to stand up for what is right.

This issue needs to be re-framed and the focus needs to be removed from illegal immigrants. After all they would not be here if a) there were no jobs and b) if the laws that already exist were being enforced. It is fine to agitate against unjust laws. But, nobody has so far advanced the position that the existing laws re immigration are unjust!

Also, although Mexican illegal immigrants get the most attention, they are not by any means the only bloc. For instance, the next time you go to a Chinese restaurant, observe your server. I have noticed that each time I go to the local Chinese restaurant, there are some new servers and their familiarity with English is so low that I wonder if they have been here more than 2-3 months. Where do they live? How do they get here? Where do they go from here? I wonder. The same goes for nail salons. I used to wait outside the place where my son took piano lessons. Each night at 7 PM, a man would come up in a large van and the workers from the nail salon that was next door would come out and troop into the van and then he would drive off. Not a word was ever spoken. One time I had to go into the salon to ask a question, and the women could speak NO English at all.

So, I would like to challenge my fellow Americans to answer these questions:

1. Do you want your lettuce picked by people who live 10 or more to a room?
2. Do you want your house to be built by someone who barely has a roof over his head?
3. Do you want your kids to be raised by women who are separated from their own children?
4.What are you willing to give up to ensure that your lifestyle is not the result of people being exploited and abused?
5. Do you want to welcome people who think they are reclaiming their long lost territory?
6. Are we a nation of citizens -- humane and principled -- or are we just consumers looking for the cheapest deal?

Speaking of multiculturalism, another area that worries me is the influx of people who have no desire to become part of this society. Did you read about an African immigrant in the Bronx who had two wives (one of them an illegal immigrant, if I recall correctly) - because the religion and culture he came from allowed it? What about local laws and norms of acceptable behavior, I wanted to ask. This family was in the news because their house had caught fire.

Finally, speaking of the down side of diversity, check out this article: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/05/the_downside_of_diversity/

The above may be politically incorrect, but I like to think that my positions are primarily about being fair, humane, and law-abiding.

When will we develop the courage of our convictions and stand up for what we believe we believe?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good posts on your blog and I have similar background and observations on the major mediocrity creep occurring in IT industry and the larger US society...

On this post about the PC pursuit of multi-culturism, there are many who are speaking out freely now on its false premise and downsides - I follow this blog http://vanishingamerican.blogspot.com/ for its thoughtful content, sometimes too frank by today's standards..