America has no culture. This young country formed on the heels of revolution during an 18th century rebellion against the then-superpower England and has transformed greatly since those days of tumult. Now, America is often labeled as a “melting pot,” despite controversy around the title. Today, America has become a destination for a myriad of immigrants from a variety of different countries, and consequently of different cultures. The United States serves as home to an extreme variety of individuals. Each person contributes to the amalgam of cultures prevalent in America, none of which is “American,” but all of which help constitute the makeup of America as we see it today by adding their cultural backgrounds to the abundance of cultures spread across the country — many of which we fail to fully appreciate.

There is no such thing as truly “made” in America. Things are derived from differing cultures around the globe. It may seem that the only original American ideas might be the hamburger or fried chicken — both of which have done little but permeate obesity and heart disease throughout the country. Most of the ideas and materials deemed American actually hail from Europe due to the prevalence of early European immigrants who flocked to this country. They took relevant ideas from Europe and applied them to America — whether that be food, art or manufacturing. This same idea applies to those cultures from Asia or Australia or Africa: America has also taken their ideas and applied them to its collection. A prime example of this is foreign food. Cultural cuisines having exploded in the past few years — various foreign restaurants can be seen lining cities and towns across the country.

This is not to say that America has not contributed to innovations around the globe. In fact, America has often bettered ideas originally derived from other countries and cultures, developing them to be more efficient and sophisticated. Nonetheless, these cases are few and far between, and few of those cases are completely American contributions. Instead, America’s primary means of innovation is through its immigration and the variety of cultures it brings in. The intellect of immigrants has supported America’s advancements throughout history, and perhaps made up for the lack of domestic minds to assist America’s innovations.

It seems ironic that the U.S. is currently attempting to limit immigration when the majority, if not totality, of its most innovative ideas stem from its immigrants. It is ironic that, in a cultureless country, we cannot see the influence of the variety of cultures that inhabit this country. In order to maintain America’s supposed dominance, it needs to maintain immigration and promote the inclusion of foreign minds and workers. This has proven to better the country by adding to the amalgam of cultures. Otherwise, America will be severely circumscribed in its ways by failing to acknowledge the role that the various cultures play in its innovation and development. Simply put, we need to better appreciate the mix of cultures prevalent in America.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

@TheChrony

2 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting that you say there is, “no such thing as ‘truly’ made in America.”

    You are aware that Native Americans have countless contributions to the American culture that does exist.

    I get the spirit of your article (because America is not America if we do not have immigrants coming in); but the debate on creating a legal immigration system and how hard we crack down on illegal migration has been around for decades.

    You seem to be suffering from presentism, and are so focused everything as you see it from the news right this second that you have no appreciation for the history behind the immigration debate, or all the context/nuance needed to properly address it in an article.

    You could say the same thing about any European country, so does Italy not have its own culture because Germanic tribes moved into that region 1500 years ago?!?!

    There is a difference between ethnic culture and the culture behind one’s nationality!

    You should read up on where the Blues, Jazz, and Rock n’ Roll came from….once someone is in America they are part on this nation’s culture.

    The great thing about America is (which Trevor Noah pointed out recently with his comments about French World Cup players with parents of African descent) is, “that what I love about this country is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness.” And what Noah means is that someone like myself (3rd generation American) can celebrate my Irish roots, and my American culture.

    We are a stew of immigrants, I don’t like the melting pot because it connotes that we amalgamate into one culture. Along with Native Americans, these stew of immigrants make an amazing American culture that includes so many things…

    …each individual can pick & choose what piece of that culture they want to celebrate.

    Your opening sentence is untrue, along with the bulk of your article (despite me knowing the point you were trying to make it was done in a really strange and dishonest way in my opinion).

  2. One thing I wanted to add was that each culture & their unique contributions to the, “amalgam” of cultures creates the American national identity….to say there is only ethnic culture and not national culture just isn’t true.

    We have ethos from our various ethnic identities, and from our national personality and character.

    The beauty of American ethnic & national culture is that one can pick & choose from the cornucopia of choices to form their identity that link to their ethos (on a singular, family, and/or community level).

    I think if you could give this topic more thought you’d regret saying that, “America has no culture” and would find a better way to make the important point that you wanted to make.

    Thank you for making me think about this, even though I disagree with your premise I celebrate another American value that we need to keep around: Spirited and respectful debate.

    Cheers & best wishes!!!

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