America: A Land of Many People
America was founded on immigration. While many other countries consist of a homogeneous culture, people, and ethnicity, America is comprised of many.
The national calendar highlights holidays of many religions - Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and more - as well as America’s own patriotic traditions. It is an undeniable fact that the unique nature of America’s fabric results from the multitude of diverse yet perfectly intertwined threads that compose this wondrous community. What makes America special is not that we are a nation of immigrants but that we continue to be a culture that thrives in inclusivity and welcome, a fundamental philosophy that is now being threatened by the politics of today.
The words on the Statue of Liberty reflect the American spirit: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” These “huddled masses” and “the wretched refuse” have for centuries come from all over the world. While it is true that the first travelers on the Mayflower were primarily from England, waves of subsequent immigrants have traveled from virtually every part of the world. The founding fathers wrote the following words in the Constitution: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The founders’ use of “all men,” rather than simply naturally-born Americans, indicates our country’s strong roots in welcoming inhabitants from all places.
America’s greatness is intertwined with the lives of its immigrant diaspora and many of America’s leading citizens have been immigrants. Albert Einstein immigrated from Germany after World War II and contributed significantly to the field of Physics. Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become Secretary of State, immigrated from the former Czechoslovakia. Hollywood’s star, Audrey Hepburn, moved from Belgium and brought America fame and reputation. President Donald Trump’s own grandparents immigrated to America from Germany, as well as Hillary Clinton’s. Without the contributions of these famous Americans, along with those of many more, America would not have become what it is today. America is defined by its famous immigrant sons and daughters working together with previous generations of immigrants and the indigenous Native Americans who roamed the country for centuries before.
In a land of open arms, some find it difficult to balance American values with American security. Yet just as America is not a homogeneous material, the types of threats that come to this country do not belong to a homogeneous material. Criminal and murderous behavior is not the prerogative of just some cultures or religions. Branding a whole religion or a nation for the sins of a few goes counter to the spirit of America and the very words in the Constitution. Just because criminals use the same road that I take to school or my mother to the grocery store, is not an excuse to close down the road. The denigration of an entire race of people can only result in greater insecurity and antagonism in the long run, overshadowing any minimal short term gains.
Keeping others out is not what makes us American; we are American precisely because we open our doors to others, welcome them, and allow them to assimilate and contribute to society. For centuries the U.S.A. has been the immigrant’s dream. Why change that now?