My America is not the one they want back

One Presidential candidate believed that multiculturalism and women’s equality are unqualified blessings and that government should promote them. She won the election by something over 2.5 million votes. That’s probably why hate groups and hate crimes and ordinary incivility are increasing.

The I-want-my-America-back minority realizes at some level that the election did not give them their America back; it only set in place temporary impediments to the ongoing journey toward a country that is fairer, more tolerant and occasionally more willing to place the common good above self-interest. The fearful haters are fighting (sometimes literally) a rear-guard action.

We are well into the process of forming a new idea of what it is to be an American. Big change is always discomfiting. And when the change is from a belief that America is fundamentally and properly white Christian and male-dominated to a realization that many, perhaps most, Americans welcome our becoming multicultural and gender neutral, that is wrenching for those who were wedded to the former belief. So wrenching, that violence is the predictable outcome.

“I want my America back” can easily slip into “I’ll fight to the death this force that is destroying the old order, because without the old order, I am no longer me.”

To put it less harshly, America is a process, and that process is having growing pains. But we are going to become more multicultural and less sexist; it’s inevitable. For what it’s worth, I myself am a white male Christian, and I thank God for this development.

In my Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa holiday reflections, I see a new America, one in which:

≤Immigrants are welcomed without regard to their country of origin.

≤Immigrants are required by law and custom to become reasonably acculturated (learn English, embrace the unum part of e pluribus unum, give up certain practices that were acceptable in their countries of origin).

≤The number of immigrants is limited. Unlimited immigration leads eventually to overpopulation, and that is of no benefit to anyone.

We recognize that an America made up of many races, ethnic backgrounds and cultural practices is a stronger country. One example: in our conflict with Arab terrorists, we are well-served by American citizens who are native speakers of Arabic.

We actually enjoy knowing people who are unlike ourselves. Imagine this: a festival in Saranac Lake where we all come together for something so simple as a community potluck with stories and entertainment, and we display and celebrate our ethnic and geographic origins outside the United States.

Boys and girls, men and women live without unreasonable sex-role strictures. News stories about somebody being the first woman to achieve something will be a historic artifact.

Everyone has access to good medical care.

Higher education is available at reasonable cost.

No one lacks good housing and enough food.

No job pays less than a living wage.

Such a peaceable kingdom, or anything close to it, is possible only if today’s reactionaries come to realize that hyphenated Americans can become more fully participant and more respected Americans without that diminishing the worth of anyone else. And government action to improve the lot of the disadvantaged improves life for all of us. If we fail to reach agreement on these truths, we will remain a riven people.

I concur with Tiny Tim. God bless us, everyone.

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