In Defense of the American Melting Pot

When something succeeds in penetrating into daily American life, that represents a huge step forward in integrating into American society. No longer on the outside, looking in, the contributing group is actively participating in the direction of our culture. Not everyone wins. I have an Irish heritage and corned beef hasn’t exactly penetrated into the American mainstream the same way as tacos and sushi; however, we did bring with us a tradition of literature, poetry and theater, without which America made not have been able to birth some of the greatest writers in the Western world from Mark Twain to T.S. Eliot.

Even video games have roots in the American melting pot experience. While many games are influenced by European, specifically British mythology and fantasy, beginning in the late 1980s, video games became a huge conduit for Asian immigrants to share their culture with the United States. As a result of that process, T.V. shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and RWBY began to originate here and the whole gaming industry, once an import from Japan, has taken root in American society and captured its imagination.

The beauty of the melting pot is that everyone gets to participate. Ideas get birthed, applauded, and passed around, creating things that are delicious, beautiful, and never before seen in the world. After hundreds of years of this, America will have a culture that can stand toe-to-toe with any ancient civilization around the world from China to Italy. But not if the melting pot concept, a cultural concept everyone in America should applaud and support, is undercut by the 2017 trend of policing cultural appropriations.  So, the next time you see someone calling out another for cultural appropriation, you may point out that the melting pot is one of the core ideals this country was founded on.  If we agree on nothing else, I hope we can agree on that.