There are days when I wonder if somehow or in some way I failed to recognize my bigotry in modern America. Actually, the expression “pluralism” was coined in a New Republic magazine in 1916 in an effort to recognize America in this era. At that point in time, 25% of Americans were either immigrants or children of immigrants, today the figure is about 8%. The issue of creating a society in which people of varying religions, colors and ethnic heritages has long been at the center of how to recognize differences while creating a sense of unity. I laugh when Americans today worry about Hispanic children in schools who come from parents who do not speak English. In my immigrant neighborhood, the merchants like my pop who had a butcher store spoke Yiddish, not English to their customers. Multiply by a factor of ten if you seek to compare the issue of multiculturalism in 1914 with that of today.
So, what happened to we children of immigrants? We joined the army and helped win World War II. We joined the Army and fought in Korea. We got jobs, we invented things, we help create new industries like television and we wound up living in neighborhoods with those who in our childhood were the enemy. Fight to ensure equality for all, but every so often take a deep breath and recognize that times have changed, are changing and will continue to change. The United States of America, for all its failures to aid those at the bottom and those seeking equality HAS made a few strides. Again, what has changed is simply not enough.