Editorial Commentary: Don’t forget where you came from, but remember where you are

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“No other country invites the men, women and children of the world to come here and become American.”

– Balint Vazsonyi

In 1956, concert pianist Balint Vazsonyi fled Hungary in the wake of the anti-Communist rebellion that was subsequently crushed by Soviet troops and tanks. In 1997, Vazsonyi, now a proud American citizen who also holds a Ph.D. in history, wrote these prophetic words:

“We have been ordered by the prophets of social justice to replace our common American identity with ‘multiculturalism.’ … They insist on bilingual education and multilingual ballots. They remove the founding documents from our schools. They enforce anti-American history standards. …Consider the vast numbers of new immigrants who are encouraged to ignore the very reasons that brought them to America in the first place. … sooner or later the loss of a common American identity will affect national defense.

“Will Americans lay down their lives if America is nothing but a patchwork of countless group identities?”

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger penned a powerful commentary Sept. 20 that spoke just as loudly to me as Vazsonyi’s words. For too long, Henninger writes, we’ve bashed the concept of America’s “melting pot,” for a concept of “hyphens,” such as Polish-American, Arab-American or Asian-American, with “ethnic identity loud and proud in front of the hyphen, the American half just an afterthought.”

We’ve been told, he adds, that the Melting Pot is just a myth and that it is better to “recognize our differences.” And now we wonder why people are upset that they were singled out for those differences.

“It appears that after 20 years of diversity indoctrination, the result is that the differences are about the only thing most people recognize.”

America has been called a “nation of immigrants,” and those diverse threads have been woven into the most beautiful, the strongest fabric in the world. Banishing the melting pot concept, however, elevates the importance of those individual threads into something bigger and better than the fabric, which is now starting to unravel.

We hold to the truth that all men are created equal, but the basic truths – the common ground – upon which this country was founded are ignored. Without that shared commonality, we have promoted ethnic and religious differences instead of a common ideal, and have been rewarded with discord and bitterness, witnessed through racial profiling and conflict.

Isn’t that what our forefathers were trying to leave behind in the first place?

“The Founders’ vision of commonality was right the first time,” Henniger’s column concludes. “In the United States that means that you never have to forget where you came from. But it does mean understanding where you are.”

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