Does multiculturalism strengthen or weaken America's identity? Explain why and provide some specific examples to support your answer.
In the United States, multiculturalism is not clearly established in policy at the federal level, but ethnic diversity is common in both rural and urban areas, see Race and ethnicity in the United States.
Mulberry Street, [ along which Manhattan's Little Italy is centered. Lower East Side, New York City, United States, circa 1900.
Continuous mass immigration was a feature of the United States
economy and society since the first half of the 19th century. The absorption of the stream of immigrants became, in itself, a prominent feature of America's national myth. The idea of the Melting pot is a metaphor that implies that all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention. The Melting Pot implied that each individual immigrant, and each group of immigrants, assimilated into American society at their own pace which, as defined above, is not multiculturalism as this is opposed to assimilation and integration. An Americanized (and often stereotypical) version of the original nation's cuisine, and its holidays, survived. The Melting Pot tradition co-exists with a belief in national unity, dating from the American founding fathers:
"Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs... This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties."
As a philosophy, multiculturalism began as part of the pragmatism movement at the end of the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States, then as political and cultural pluralism at the turn of the twentieth. It was partly in response to a new wave of European imperialism in sub-Saharan Africa and the massive immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans to the United States and Latin America. ]
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