I was listening to the radio this afternoon, and learned that to celebrate Mexican independence, more than twenty buildings in Chicago will be lighted with red, white and green lights.
I think I'm missing something. Did I miss a celebration for all the Germans to settled here? I know that we have nearly as many Polish people as the city of Warsaw, Poland, but I can't remember ever seeing the City light the buildings for them.
We have a large population of Chinese in Chicago, and they have interesting celebrations in Chinatown, but I've never seen the entire City decorated for the Chinese.
So, why are we celebrating Mexican Independence in Chicago? We don't celebrate for any other ethnic group. Yes, we dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day, but that's a bit different. Chicago's St. Paddy's celebration is really a Chicago political activity. If we were celebrating Irish Independence, I'd be asking the same question.
We used to talk about "diversity" in a way that indicated we were proud to be a melting pot. Most of us who live here are not Native Americans. Most of us are here because an ancestor thought there was a better life to be had here. They left their native country behind and emigrated to America, and most of them became American citizens.
Now there seems to be a trend toward diversity, with no intent to melt into one nationality. We're seeing people come to the United States who want the freedom and benefits, and opportunity to change their economic status, but they have no allegiance to the country, and frequently choose to ignore our laws.
In the nineteenth century, and the first half of the twentieth century, people who emigrated to the US most often settled at first in a neighborhood where people spoke their native language. They followed relatives who would help them settle in and find a job. Wisconsin is famous for its German population, and the western side of the state was the home to Cornish miners. New York City is famous for it's ethnic neighborhoods. Families encouraged their children to get an education, and to learn to speak English. Frequently, it was the children who drew the adults into life in America.
I don't have the sense that our Mexican immigrants wish to blend themselves into the culture of the United States.
I've re-written this section of my entry half a dozen times, trying to find a less incendiary way to phrase my concerns, and it still sounds harsh. The truth is, I feel the same about anyone who emigrates to my country. I'm concerned that the "melting pot" aspect of our country is part of what makes it strong. I'm worried that if we become a group of people who more strongly identify with previous nationalities, that we will ultimately fragment, and loose the strength for which we are known.
If you come to the United States for the good life, then you have some obligations. First, learn to speak English! Secondly, learn our laws. Third, be prepared to vote when you don't like those laws. Don't assume that you can come to us illegally and then demand a driver's license, or health care. Don't be surprised when we ask you to leave, if you've come to us illegally.
Okay....I'm going to step down now. Am I a bigot? I don't think so. Am I prejudiced? I hope not. I hope that I'm just a concerned American citizen who knows how much we have to offer those who want to be a part of our nation.