In the 1980s an idea put forward by academics in California began to gain traction on the East Coast as well. They held that the “Melting Pot” of E Pluribus Unum should change to the “Stew Pot” of protection for minorities. I contend that the seed for the destruction of the American Republic was sown right then. The concept of the great unification of American immigrants derived from a popular 1908 stage play by Israel Zangwill. He called it The Melting Pot. One of Zangwill’s characters says, pointing to New York: “the harbor where a thousand mammoth feeders come from the ends of the world to pour in their human freight. Ah, what a stirring and a seething! Celt and Latin, Slav and Teuton, Greek and Syrian, black and yellow." “Jew and Gentile-" answers the other, “East, West, North and South, the palm and the pine, the pole and the equator, the crescent and the cross - how the great Alchemist melts and fuses them with His purging flame! Here shall they all unite to build the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God.” Those two ideas aren’t the same thing, but much changed in 80 years.
I came in the 1990s and noticed the clamor for new immigrants to keep all their traditions while getting “in” on the prosperity. One Saturday morning I went into the streets of Hoboken to get a few cans of Sterno for a friend. It took forty minutes to find a store where they spoke English. By Y2K our denomination was celebrating the fact that there were Korean, Japanese, Creole, Chinese and Spanish churches where not a word of English was uttered. The Stew Pot was considered a good thing. I preached at one of our black churches and was amazed to see that it was almost completely Jamaican in style and population.
David C. Stolinsky writing in November, 2013 asked: “What do we want our immigration policy to accomplish? This leads to a more basic question: What kind of nation do we want?”
We are indeed a nation of immigrants, but be sure – the Melting Pot and the Stew Pot cannot produce the same result. If “a better life” is all they seek, we are in jeopardy.
The business community noticed the “special interests” groups and soon the advertising firms structured commercials to attract their attention. Magazines for each language group appeared when that group attained to commercially viable print size.
Politicians in 2012 increasingly spoke of positioning themselves to attract the Black or the Hispanic or the Yuppie votes. This will be the year when the destructive nature of the Stew Pot brings forth its divisive fruits to sour the outcome of the Presidential election. Donald Trump has been raising eyebrows by claiming “I am a unifier.” Hardly! He has drawn large numbers of new voters into the Republican Party who have a strong dislike for most of its core beliefs. The party is facing disaster at its Cleveland Convention. Trump is surfing a wave of anger among conservatives that can only end on the rocks.
Hillary Clinton says she’s going to build us all up rather than let us be torn down by our divisions. The Democratic Party is tilting ultra-socialist by Bernie Sanders, but only socialist-lite by Clinton. Their thinkers have disdain for the Judeo-Christian world view and call regard for God’s commandments, bigotry and intolerance. They will use the force of Supreme Court imposed laws to demand submission to their own world view. Bible behavior will be fined.
Israel Zangwill knew there were differences of opinion in America, but he captured the ethos of his day when he wrote about a Melting Pot. Polish Jews were taking classes in the Constitution so as to vote responsibly. Italian families forced their kids to learn English and go to college. Nationalities arrived in waves, like the coming of the Irish after 1850 when almost 2 million left The Old Country. Poverty-stricken, they filled low income housing areas. By 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the population in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Baltimore. As they prospered and moved west they integrated into their new suburbs. The Melting Pot worked. Pay attention: 2017 is the year when you will see what the Stew Pot brought us
Andrew Paton of Clinton Church of the Nazarene, born in Africa, has pastored in Hunterdon County since 1997. Before that he ministered in Durban and Bedfordview, South Africa and prior to that was an officer in The Salvation Army. He has been in full time Christian leadership since 1975. He and his wife Carol have two married sons and five grandchildren.
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