Some among the prosperous and privileged of my acquaintance had a difficult Thanksgiving. "All of our regular Hispanic workers were celebrating their own Thanksgiving with their families," one of them told me. "We had to do the work ourselves." Assimilation, American style.
We decry the meltdown of the melting pot but sometimes can't see the robust stew bubbling on the stove right in front of us. The "help," as some call them, are mainly immigrants, who came here to find work. Many of their children were born here, educated in our schools. Some got here legally and some didn't. Legal or not, it would be impossible to round them up and send them home even if we wanted to, which some of us want to and some of us don't.
The immigration issue, ever more contentious, is embroiled in the larger issue of multiculturalism. In many schools, for example, Christmas has been converted to "winter holiday" and Easter to "spring holiday," to avoid offending the easily offended. Thanksgiving has so far survived the secularist onslaught, as all our children learn about the Pilgrims who gave thanks to God for their new lives in the New World and the abundance wrought by the divine hand. We are all immigrants, after all, and discarded melting pot or not, it's not easy to mess up that underlying message of hope. I haven't met any immigrants who want to do that. This gives us assimilationists some hope.
Some, but not a lot. The multiculturalists seem to be winning. The media, self-aggrandizing politicians and puffed-up professors perpetuate a message of ethnic identity above all. Sixty years ago, George Orwell wrote that England was the only great country where intellectuals were ashamed of their nationality. He just didn't live long enough to meet some of our intellectuals, so called, circa 2005. It's considerably easier to organize around grievances than to show a little appreciation for the successes past. Multiculturalism is less about affirmation of ethnic identity than about "getting something for me." Under the cover of group consciousness lurks a selfish sense of victimhood, the notion that society is organized to deprive designated unfortunates of their share of the American dream. But that comes from the top down, not from the bottom up.