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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the way multiculturalism shapes America.

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Multiculturalism's historic role in American society

In response to Lawrence Harrison's Feb. 26 Opinion piece, "The end of multiculturalism": The salad bowl versus melting pot analogy is confused by a mistaken belief that America was founded on a unified "Anglo-Protestant tradition." Our nascent nation was a famously loose federation of extremist Puritans and moderate Anglicans, slave-owning agriculturalists and naval merchants. They found little common cultural ground in anything but a hatred of British tyranny and a fierce independent streak. Our Founding Fathers created a genius framework that allowed for, and even utilized, that great diversity by uniting them under the Constitution.

Indeed, one of the great American successes has been the absorption not only of foreign peoples but also of their ideas. Each new immigrant generation infuses the United States with new perspectives and approaches, whether they are prospectors or the persecuted, Irish or Indian. Multiculturalism, not homogeneity, has always made America greater.

Aram Fischer

El Cerrito, Calif.

In response to Lawrence Harrison's Opinion piece on America's cultural "salad bowl": The author apparently dislikes salad, perhaps preferring something like a fondue or maybe Welsh rarebit.

Chacun à son gout
: each to his own taste. However, there is a matter that exceeds preference and requires a response. In noting that it is culture rather than race "that matters," he contrasts Barbados, which only achieved independence in 1966 from British – that is to say Anglo-Saxon Protestant – rule, with Haiti, whose slave population seized independence from those French Catholic Gauls in 1804. He oversimplifies both Barbados and Haiti to ethnicity. Is this ethnicity? Race? Skin color? Religion?

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