Protecting Cultural Distinctiveness: The Key to a Thriving Future in America

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Most nations experience some sort of immigration, be it from a neighboring nation mired in conflict, or from someone seeking better economic prospects across the globe. Regardless of circumstance, the question inevitably arises about how to deal with these new countrymen. A hotly debated issue for many years, certain corners of American political discourse center around the idea that in order to protect the dominant culture, policies ought to be in place that coerce immigrants to adopt the customs of this, their new home, while abandoning traits distinctive of their place of origin. This reactionary mindset that values assimilation over integration and the preservation of uniqueness of culture is harmful to immigrant groups themselves, and…show more content…
At issue is the appropriate approach to take toward immigrant groups with cultures different than that currently dominant. There are two main schools of thought about how best to handle the situation: assimilation or integration. “Assimilation involves relinquishing one’s culture of origin in favor of a full incorporation into the new society whereas integration involves…the incorporation of the new society’s way of life but without relinquishing one’s culture of origin” (Guimond et al, 642). When surveying attitudes about the two ideologies, it has repeatedly been found that minority groups have a more positive view of integration whereas those in the majority favor assimilation (642). The explanation of this is rather simple: in the eyes of minority groups, integration “offers the possibility of maintaining their own culture and obtaining higher social status in society,” whereas those in the majority “may see ethnic minorities and their desire to maintain their own culture as a threat to their cultural dominance and group identity” (Verkuyten, 284). When one examines at the actors in the debate in America, this is borne out. The majority of those advocating for the imposition of polices that would restrict immigrant rights and push America toward assimilation are largely white Christians. This advocating for integration is categorized as a desire to build a multicultural society. Multiculturalism “emphasizes equality between and respect for

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