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and which we so greatly deplore, are not of their choosing. Indeed, in most cases their environment is far below that of their former lives. They have been driven into it in the past through many reasons, not the least of which have been the selfishness and exclusiveness of the native born.
We have decried the failure on the part of the new Americans to adopt the ways and standards of our land, quite forgetting that through our own aloofness they were not coming into contact with those customs. Mary Antin in her own life story points out that the Americanization of her family began as soon as they moved into an American neighborhood. Yet, just as her mother was gladly learning American ways from these neighbors, the native born moved away because, as they said, “ they did not want to live next to a Russian Jew."
Physically, the port of entry seems to be the gateway to America, but mentally, socially, and culturally it is not more than the outer office, the reception hall of the new country. The real entrance to American life comes very often much later, through long and sometimes saddening experiences in industry or commerce or in pleasanter pathways leading through night school, social center, fraternal or other organization, conducted by sympathetic Americans or by kinsmen who have preceded hy some years the later comers.'
Some there are who would Americanize by law, who would force the knowledge and use of the English language and of naturalization and citizenship. A few talk of deportation and imprisonment, as though the lip service gained in such fashion could serve America. Such only harm the cause. Too often the foreign born, hearing them, forget that they are but the unthinking few who serve only to accentuate the good sense and judgment of the majority.
You can not make Americans that ray. You have got to make them by calling upon the fine things that are within them, and by dealing with them in sympathy, by appreciating what they have to offer us, and by revealing to them what we have to offer them. And that brings to mind the thought that this work must be a human work-must be something done out of the human heart and speaking to the human heart and must largely turn upon instrumentalities that are in no way formal, and that have no dogma and have no creed and which can not be put into writing and can not be set upon the press.?
Americanization is a mutual process. We shall fail if we do not receive as well as give. That Americanization would be futile which incorporated these foreign-born peoples into our lives and lost to America all that they have to give. America is the child of many races, but is herself stronger and nobler than any of her progenitors. This is so because each people has brought with it a wealth of art,
1 Harry A. Lipsky, in Conference Proceedings.
of song, of custom, of ideals, all of which together form a wondrous heritage.
The native-born worker must not face the problem with the feeling that his task is entirely that of putting something across to the foreign group. It consists just as surely of carrying something back from the group with which he is working. Americanization is a twofold process. It is a process of reciprocal adjustment. The newcomer is having his standards modified, his point of view changed, his experiences enlarged, his equipment of languages added to, his grasp of our political structure and ideals strengthened, and his standards of living altered; but he is just as surely modifying our point of view, enlarging our experiences, modifying our industrial organization, and causing changes in our economic values and our political organization. He is bringing with him the values and experiences and spiritual riches of his racial and national life, and he is contributing these to us.
MUST HAVE TOLERANCE.
Many are too prone to think that we must cast out all that is new or unusual in order to Americanize. They are apt to feel that the newcomers in order to be good Americans should resemble themselves in all their ways as nearly as possible! They would cast out with the same naïve abandon as the child does the weeds in her mother's posy bed.
Those who go out to "Americanize" in the spirit of saving the country from disaster, or of reforming the heathen by abolishing all that looks unfamiliar, are less likely to Americanize the foreign born than to provincialize America. There is surely nothing dangerously un-American in spaghetti or marionettes, or even funerals with six ba rouches of flowers and 100 coaches !
Let us then give over all thought of trying to make the American from other lands just exactly the same sort of an American that we are ourselves. It is conceivable that men may be good Americans at heart and still not understand a word of the English language. Men may wear wooden shoes and still stand ready to die for America or to serve her devotedly. Let us seek, therefore, to tell the true from the false, the meat from the husks, the essential from the superficial.
You can not work against nature. You can never completely transform a man or woman that was not born and raised in this country, or at least that did not come here as a child so as to go through the American public schools, into just such an American as you are. It is impossible. But it is also unnecessary.
1 Nathan Peyser, in Conference Proceedings.
A man is not a foreign " because he was born in a foreign land or because he does not speak good English, but because he clings to or is actuated by un. American or anti-American ideas.'
We can never crush out of men's hearts the love they hold for their childhood homes. Xor would we do so if we could. The heart which could so easily and quickly forget the land of its birth could never love with a deep devotion the land of its adoption.
None of us would wish that the immigrant or the descendant of immigrants-which includes all of us-should fail in pride of ancestry. With that would go loss of self-respect. Whatever the people or the peoples from which our fathers came, they have something to contribute to the greater, richer American life of the future. And that contribution we want, whether it be the German Christmas tree and the sentiment that surrounds it or the Italian love of garely and color.” ?
OUR FOREIGN COLONIES.
Austria was never a nation. It was merely a federation of many diverse peoples. Some there are who plead for the continuance of the foreign colonies in America. They even argue that these people came to America for freedom to live as they choose; that if they desire to keep their Polish or Italian or other national solidarity and life and customs, they should be permitted to do so. Such pleaders mistake sentimentality for sense. Such a course could result only in America becoming a second Austria and subject to its fate.
The various peoples in Austria were conquered by superior strength and incorporated into the whole without their consent. All peoples in America have come to this land of their own choice. They come presumably ready and willing to abide by its laws and ways. There is no place here for a branch of any other nation. To these new peoples we offer the great institutions of this land which our fathers fought and died to secure and maintain. They are given freely with only the stipulation that these peoples shall cast their lot with us and be one of us. Such as do not care to accept this simple requirement are free to go whence they came. Of those that remain we ask that they shall learn our language, that they shall leave their feuds and hatreds at the gate, that they shall renounce allegiance to their old and prepare to live or die for the glory of the new-America.
For the growth of foreign colonies in America, the native born are equally at fault. We have resented the purchase of property on our streets by anyone even having a foreign name. Through our own clannishness we have forced these new Americans to live among themselves if they would find aught in life to enjoy. Yet we should not
1 Alberty Mamatey, in Conference Proceedings.
forget that this gathering into groups is but a natural thing. We have our American colonies in London, and Paris, and Mexico.
The segregation and clannishness of the immigrant groups is erroneously called a characteristic peculiar to them. All of us choose our homes among those people with whom we feel comfortable, with the result that all of us really live segregated in districts. Those who come from the same country naturally feel unity. We have, then, in segregation merely a manifestation of a common human characteristici
BREAKING UP GROUPS.
We can dissolve these colonies only as we offer a fuller life to those who live in them. When the inhabitants of our foreign districts find full fellowship in our communities and equality of treatment and of opportunity, they will find in the new relation a happiness greater than in the old and disintegration will come about naturally.
Could we start with a clean slate in this work of Americanization, the task would be simple. We must, however, reckon with the bitterness and the heartburning, the misunderstanding and resentment, caused by our long years of neglect and injustice. We Americans take a great deal of injustice toward ourselves, all as a part of the game. We know that some time when we get around to it we will take a day off and clean up that injustice that bothers us; in the meantime we suffer from it with a grin. Our foreign-born friends, however, are prone to nourish the feeling of a slight or wrong.
When an immigrant sees unfair practices he is likely to be affected much more than is the American, because of his faith that such things are not found in democracy. He must be led to see that all, including himself, owe a duty to help prevent such things. He must see that the power in a democracy is in the people and that there is not some outside power to which to appeal and which to blame. We can get no great distance in civic improvement until all persons recognize a personal responsibility for evil conditions and count it a moral and religious duty to stop them. We can not depend upon the Government as something apart from ourselves to right wrongs. We must right the wrongs ourselves, for we are the Government. An immigrant ought to be given the desire to become a citizen so that he can do his share; as a foreigner he is quite helpless, but as a citizen he can help in realizing fair play.?
There is a negative school of Americanization abroad in the land. It would Americanize America hy fighting Bolshevism by word and laws, by more police power, more resrictions, more espionage. It is right that our Nation should stand on guard for the principles on which it was founded. But no campaign was ever won merely by the zealous punishing of a minority. The America of the future will be built not by our fear for it, but by the belief of one hundred million citizens in it.
17. A. Miller, in Conference Proceedings.
Americanization workers may be tempted to fight Bolshevism and the other" isms ” that attack society from time to time. They should consider whether they are not merely helping in this way to attract attention to these various " causes” and thus assist in advertising them. Bolshevism is an effect, not a cause, and it is always wasted effort to attack effects, leaving the causes untouched. Bolshevism is the natural fruit of ignorance and injustice. Let us therefore bend our efforts to the eradication of these causes, and the effects will disappear of themselves.
Our responsibility is not to be met, however, with cries and shouts and pieces of paper, like Chinese exorcising evil spirits. It is not to be met with the chantings of the charms of democracy nor with boasting of great things done. It can be met only by doing the things that remain to be done to make America the better land it ought to be.'
So my interest in this movement is as much an interest in ourselves as in those whom we are trying to Americanize, because if we are genuine Americans they can not avoid the infection; whereas, if we are not genuine Americans, there will be nothing to infect them with and no amount of teaching, no amount of exposition of the Constitution, no amount of dwelling upon the idea of liberty and of justice will accomplish the object we have in view, unless we ourselves illustrate the idea of justice and of liberty."
1 Franklin K. Lane.