In my experience as a conservative, I have encountered many instances of disagreement when it comes to maintaining a consistent American culture. The leftist elements in my university setting cannot stress enough diversity while permitting an un-criticizable admittance of foreign influence into our nation.
I find culture to be integral to maintaining a national identity. Without a national identity, there is a struggle for unity, and without unity, a nation becomes weak; vulnerable to our adversaries as well as to adopting failing foreign systems. Old Republicans and Progressives have stressed the need for maintaining a unified nation under an “American” culture. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt championed the call for this unity.
Abraham Lincoln is famously quoted that “a nation divided cannot stand.” Lincoln was in office when our nation was at the most divided period in our history. During the Civil War, foreign powers were watching the progress made by the South, tempted by establishing new imperial ambitions in the American theater, debating whether to ignore the warning of the Monroe doctrine issued recently in 1823. If the South had succeeded in their endeavors to repel the North and gain ally-ship of the British, it would have significantly impacted our American identity. With a weakened state and with more foreign influence, there’s no telling what our system today would look like, if it would have existed today at all. With a divided state, would we have survived after WW2? The Cold War? Would America have engaged in many more bloody wars as the European countries had over the many centuries?
Theodore Roosevelt, a Progressive Republican, also noted the need for this unity. He’s quoted on his position on immigration in the early 20th-century saying:
“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
He understands that when immigrants come to America, they live to be Americans. They should aspire to live American ideals. They can retain their identities, but they cannot reform the state but not in such a way that degrades it to the status of their old country/culture.
My ancestors had come from Hungary in the late 1800’s. They were discriminated against; called “gypsies” and “huns”, they were thought to have looted after the Johnstown flood in Pennsylvania. Nonetheless, my family had assimilated into American culture. They learned English after not knowing any. They took up jobs in cigar factories, saved up for their children to be educated, and lived out the American dream enjoying the freedoms and opportunities presented to them in this nation.
While I respect the freedom of expression, it does bother me that U.S citizens fly the flags of their ancestry in their offices and homes. We are not Hungary. We are not Mexico. We are not China. We are a republic. We, as the people, make a democracy. Our nation is founded on Judeo-Christian values. Our free enterprise system has advanced us past the other nations of the world and has been adopted by other, now prospering, nations. We’ve inherited a spirit of individuality which has allowed us to better our lives for ourselves and our future generations.
I reject the notion that there are not degrees of civility and that there are just “other cultures.” I look to the Middle East, and some nations in Africa and find barbarism in their environments. There’s degradation of women, persecution of LGBT+ folk and religious minorities, as well as unsanitary living conditions. I look to China, Russia, and North Korea and find censorship and political oppression. You cannot tell me there aren’t better and worse cultures to live in.
Under an American identity, we retain the systems that provide us our most cherished freedoms and opportunities. With foreign cultural influx, our ideals deteriorate, either organically or radically depending on what we permit to happen. It is on us to be smart, to gain wisdom, and be vigilant of the changes in our society. It is on us to not be afraid to criticize barbaric culture, within good reason. It is on us, as Americans, to be educated; retaining our foundations and identity while monitoring and allowing feasible cultural change.
You should not be disgusted with your American identity. You should not bend over backward to incorporate the culture of foreigners. While you may be disappointed with our history at times, we must realize the bigger, more important ideals and advance them for our posterity. We can only advance these ideals by retaining our patriotism and taking pride in a strong, recognizable, and exceptional American culture.