Institutionalized Unity

A few months ago, I came across a fantastic description of America by libertarian writer Chris Future. In his article Melting Pot vs Multiculturalism, Chris explained the difference between these two ideologies and how, in the past, America fell in line with the former. That article went live in late 2013 though, and by the time I found it in early 2015, the tables had turned.

America did an about-face shortly after Chris published his article. Upon finishing his piece, I found myself returning from a state of enthusiastic pride in this great nation stemming from the inspirational picture he painted, back to the realities of the world in which I still find myself today. No longer can we hold this amalgamation of disparate states up as the multi-faceted melting pot we once could, where being an American meant something more than inescapable taxes and perpetual government “assistance"; where the desire to be an American transcended cultural boundaries and reigned supreme. This country’s inhabitants once strove not to be Irish, Italian, African, Asian, or Muslim, but simply Americans above all else. They maintained pride in their heritage, but realized that this did not mean eschewing what would one day become the heritage of their children.

No doubt, this article will drive many to send me angry diatribes against the statements I make and conclusions I draw. “America is the freest country in the world!", they will say; “E pluribus unum, dumbass.” Let them write. For we may be free, and I will save that discussion for another day, but united? One nation under anything — let alone one nation under God? Please.

Even in 2013 I believe Chris was overly generous to describe this country in such a way. Looking back I recall feeling an absence of national pride, not a excess of it during this time period. Regardless of when the tipping point occurred though, I have no doubt that by now we have left the point of no return in the rear view mirror. This great nation devolved into a multicultural society. The desire to persevere one’s “culture” now entails discarding what it means to be an American. We are now no longer united as one nation, but rather segregate ourselves (ironically, by race) into sects of “Asian-Americans”, “Hispanic-Americans”, and “African-Americans”. The place of “Americans" — always second, always superseded — is indicative of its importance in the minds of those who ascribe to such trivial distinctions. Far be it from anyone to make such a point in today’s hyper-sensitive national discourse, though, for to do so would be tantamount to renewing classism and slavery.

Last year the French Parliament supported its long-time ban of public displays of religion, and in doing so drew a great deal of criticism to itself. Not from within the nation of France, nor even even from moderate Muslim leaders who backed the ban “as a bulwark against hard-line Islam”. Rather, the majority of this criticism came from liberal personalities in America, where they characterized the move as “one more step in its descent into full-blown religious intolerance”. As the French government argued though, and rightly so, this ban was not about religion; but whereas they put forth arguments of security risks and barriers to social interaction as a result of this practice, even these do not get to the heart of the issue.

Proclaiming to be an American once meant that one was Irish, or Italian, or Asian, but most importantly, an American. In this “controversial” ruling, the France’s government institutionalized what it once meant to be a part of our once great nation, in their own country. You may be Muslim or Christian or English or African; you are all these other things, but above all else, you are French. These open displays of division fly in the face of what it means to be quintessentially French, and because of this, cannot be allowed to stand.

The French government passed and upheld this law, and the European Court of Human Rights looked at the situation and deemed it acceptable; the European Court of Human Rights deemed it acceptable that France institutionalize a national value that fell out of vogue here in America. Good for them: when the government found the people lacking in this area, they stepped in and took measures to enforce unity across the imaginary battle lines its citizens so often draw. And when an individual tested that resolve last year, after decades of success, those in power took positive corrective action. Unfortunately though, that will never happen here — doubly so, because we could use a bit of national pride right about now. Instead, we will be left to our own devices. Far be it from anyone to infringe upon another; our current system has worked so well for so long, after all. And if it’s not broken, why fix it?