Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal wrote a recent piece for the web site Politico in which he reflected on race in America and the progress we have made since the Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. While acknowledging that there is still room for progress, Jindal asks us to consider an idea that was once embraced wholeheartedly by the vast majority of Americans, the concept that regardless of our ethnicity we are all one people. The idea of the 'melting pot' is now considered disrespectful to those who want their ethnicity, their religion, or their race to be in the spotlight. They believe the melting pot theory diminishes their individuality. Most people who hold this view now even reject the 'salad bowl' theory that replaced the melting pot. These are the ideas of separatists who selfishly seek to elevate themselves above everyone else, much to the detriment of national unity and brotherly love. They do not desire an American nation that is made up of one people with common values, goals, and beliefs, but a factional America where one is pitted against another in a constant struggle for superiority.
In his column, Governor Jindal posits the following: "Here’s an idea: How about just “Americans?” That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. Placing undue emphasis on our “separateness” is a step backward. Bring back the melting pot." He added that, "there is nothing wrong with people being proud of their different heritages. We have a long tradition of folks from all different backgrounds incorporating their traditions into the American experience, but we must resist the politically correct trend of changing the melting pot into a salad bowl. E pluribus Unum." Jindal's personal experiences give credence to his message. As stated in the article, his parents came to the United States from India and made a good life for themselves in the South during a time when racial tensions were still palpable. His story is the story of millions of people who came to these shores from distant lands with the objective of becoming Americans. Contrast this with millions of recent immigrants to the United States who refuse to leave the flag of their homeland behind and seek what they can get from the American people, not how they may contribute and make America a better place.
Unfortunately, too many people in our country today balk at Gov. Jindal's message, for they are more interested in the benefits that come with advancing a particular agenda. They are the product of an ideology that holds disdain for the values and principles upon which our country was founded. They seek to divide Americans along racial and ethnic lines, hellbent on preserving or expanding a "hyphenated" America. Yet, as the governor writes in his article, abandoning a label does not whitewash one's heritage. Our country has been enriched by the cultural contributions of many different people, but without a common thread we will soon see the unravelling of the fabric. There must be something that holds us together or we will not be able to endure. Perhaps the separatist movement is merely a symptom of a much broader sickness in the country, one in which self aggrandizement is paramount to what liberals typically call the "greater good." The only thing in our favor is world history, and the contemporary political scene around the globe, which teach us that societies divided along ethnic lines are reduced to warfare. Perhaps we can learn from history and begin anew by never relinquishing the qualities that make us different, but always remaining focused on that which we have in common. We should embrace the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rather than the divisive and selfish ideology of the progressives.