I was thinking today about how cosmopolitan our cities have become over the past 40 years. I spoke with a former Iraqi man, George, who emigrated to Canada 35 years ago from Mosul to Italy. He is Christian, Eastern Orthodox, so his people were Christian before most of Europeans were Christian. Yet, they come to the U.S. and are mistrusted because they are from Iraq. George said that there are around 250,000 of his people, “Assyrians” in the Chicago area and around 40,000 in Toronto and many in California. They are Americans. Like the earlier American immigrant groups, they came seeking freedom, peace and a future for their children.
America has always been a land of immigrants. However, groups of immigrants who came to rural areas and small towns seem to have, over the generations, forgotten their roots. They have seen only European whites and have missed the explosion of diversity in the cities. Today, people of German, English, Irish, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish, Dutch and French origins think they are “normal” Americans. Even though Protestants often hated Catholics and Mormons were driven out of towns through violence, an odd perception of “race” binds them together. Those from Africa, Mexico, the Middle East, South America, Central America, Asia – or original Americans – are seen as outsiders, even if they were in the U.S. long before many of the white immigrants.
These Americans from rural areas and small towns have grown up among white people and they often now believe that that is what America is, and should be. To me, this is a terrible distortion of America’s principles and of the American Dream. Rural America, unlike Sara Palin’s idea of being the real America, is more like an ethnic whitewash, a backwater that has grown stagnant.
We need to come together as a nation, both recent immigrants and past immigrants, and original peoples. We are diverse, and that is a GOOD thing! We are stronger for our diversity. Those who do not honor our diversity are dividing the U.S. and limiting our future. There is no future in the past. We need to wake up to our neighbors and friends and re-engage with immigrant groups that we may not be familiar with.
This is America’s future, the gift of America. If we reject our neighbors, we will suffer and decline. And we don’t have time to learn this “the hard way.” We need diversity education in our schools and we need a return to civil discourse and rule of law, rather than being ruled by privileged economic elites that are every much as repressive and greedy as the British aristocracy and monarchy from which America’s founders rebelled.
From: Earon S Davis