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The American Kaleidoscope

Race, Ethnicity, and the Civic Culture

Lawrence H. Fuchs

Publication Year: 1990

Do recent changes in American law and politics mean that our national motto -- e pluribus unum -- is at last becoming a reality? Lawrence H. Fuchs searches for answers to this question by examining the historical patterns of American ethnicity and the ways in which a national political culture has evolved to accommodate ethnic diversity. Fuchs looks first at white European immigrants, showing how most of them and especially their children became part of a unifying political culture. He also describes the ways in which systems of coercive pluralism kept persons of color from fully participating in the civic culture. He documents the dismantling of those systems and the emergence of a more inclusive and stronger civic culture in which voluntary pluralism flourishes.

In comparing past patterns of ethnicity in America with those of today, Fuchs finds reasons for optimism. Diversity itself has become a unifying principle, and Americans now celebrate ethnicity. One encouraging result is the acculturation of recent immigrants from Third World countries. But Fuchs also examines the tough issues of racial and ethnic conflict and the problems of the ethno-underclass, the new outsiders. The American Kaleidoscope ends with a searching analysis of public policies that protect individual rights and enable ethnic diversity to prosper.

Because of his lifelong involvement with issues of race relations and ethnicity, Lawrence H. Fuchs is singularly qualified to write on a grand scale about the interdependence in the United States of the unum and the pluribus. His book helps to clarify some difficult issues that policymakers will surely face in the future, such as those dealing with immigration, language, and affirmative action.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-xi

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pp. xiii-xiv

I have many to thank for help on this book. After finishing my work as executive director of the staff of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy in 1981, I was given an office and support as a guest scholar in the Program of American Society and Politics at the Woodrow Wilson Center ...

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pp. xv-xviii

Since the Second World War the national unity of Americans has been tied increasingly to a strong civic culture that permits and protects expressions of ethnic and religious diversity based on individual rights and that also inhibits and ameliorates conflict among religious, ethnic, and racial groups. ...

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pp. 1-6

Ethnic diversity a nation does not make, and separatist movements are a source of tension in many multiethnic nations: Sikhs in India, Basques in Spain, Tibetans in China, Albanians in Yugoslavia, Shiites in Lebanon, Estonians in the Soviet Union, the French in Canada, and others. In an effort to achieve ...

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Chapter One "True Americanism": The Foundations of the Civic Culture

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pp. 7-34

Jacob De La Motta was only thirty-one but already a distinguished doctor with a substantial practice in Savannah, Georgia, and other cities when he was chosen to give the address at the consecration of a new synagogue in Savannah on July 21, 1820. The physician wondered at the good fortune ...

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Chapter Two "Reinforcements to Republicanism": Irish Catholic Response to the Civic Culture

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pp. 35-53

On the evening of September 12, 1960, before several hundred Protestant ministers and laymen in the Crystal Ballroom of the Rice Hotel in Houston, John F. Kennedy gave the clearest and most eloquent statement ever made by a presidential candidate on religion and politics in American life. A minister who was present ...

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Chapter Three More Slovenian and More American: How the Hyphen Unites

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pp. 54-76

On a cold, misty April 19, 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant and key members of his cabinet joined the centennial celebration of the beginning of the American Revolution at Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts, where they listened to speeches made by illustrious Anglo-Americans, among them Ralph Waldo Emerson, ...

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pp. 77-79

European immigrants and their children, most of whom enthusiastically embraced the civic culture and its system of voluntary pluralism, kept non-Europeans from membership in the American polity by maintaining other systems of pluralism. The first such system was tribal pluralism. Euro-American settlers ...

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Chapter Four "Go Back to the Country from Whence You Came": Predatory Pluralism and the Native American Response

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pp. 80-86

When in the early nineteenth century Pawnee Indians first encountered Anglo-Americans, the whites proposed a treaty, promising blankets, guns, and knives made of steel in exchange for land. The head chief of the Pawnees declined the offer. His robe would keep him warm, even in winter; his arrows ...

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Chapter Five "This Fourth of July Is Yours": African-Americans and Caste Pluralism

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pp. 87-109

Speaking on July 4, 1853, Frederick Douglass complained: "I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary ... this Fourth of July is yours, not mine."l By 1853, most free African-Americans were excluded from meaningful participation in the civic culture and from skilled or middle-class occupations. ...

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Chapter Six "I Go Sad and Heavy Hearted": Sojourner Pluralism for Asians and Mexicans

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pp. 110-127

Mexican workers in the United States in the 1920s sang a corrido, a Mexican ballad, "An Emigrant's Farewell," telling of the anguish of a young man about to leave for the United States to work. "I bear you in my heart," he sang about Mexico, his family, and the beloved Virgin of Guadalupe, lamenting, ...

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Chapter Seven ''The Road of Hope": Asians and Mexicans Find Cracks in the System

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pp. 128-148

The dynamic economic expansion of the West and Southwest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century opened cracks in the system of sojourner pluralism for East Asian and Mexican sojourners, a substantial portion of whom became settlers. Although the circumstances of the two groups were different in ...

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Not all blacks or Mexican and Asian sojourners or Indians were kept entirely outside of the civic culture and its system of voluntary pluralism in the decades preceding the Second World War. But coercive official systems of pluralism-caste, tribal, and sojourner-continued to limit the opportunities of most ...

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Chapter Eight "Do You Understand Your Own Language?": Black Americans' Attack on Caste

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pp. 151-173

Blacks rebelled against slavery and caste almost from the beginning of their history in North America, but more than two hundred slave rebellions were swiftly and ruthlessly punished.1 Free blacks, free but excluded from the civic culture, protested but usually in vain. ''We are natives of this country; ...

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Chapter Nine ''They Never Did Really See Me": The Assertion of Black Ethnic Identity

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pp. 174-189

Cullen knew what all educated African-Americans knew—that whites had invented a name to keep all blacks in a position of caste. "Nigger" was their word of disrespect, contempt, and fear. It was a caste word. When Malcolm X, the most brilliant and articulate of all separatist leaders in the 1960s, spoke to a ...

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Chapter Ten ''We Want Full Participation": African-Americans and Coalition Politics

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pp. 190-205

In 1953, when West Indian-born Hulan E. Jack was elected president of the borough of Manhattan, he became the highest-ranking African-American elected official in the nation. In 1984, a New York Times/CBS survey of black registered voters showed that 72 percent ...

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Chapter Eleven ''We Have to Be Part of the Political System": Redefining Tribal Pluralism

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pp. 206-224

The civil rights movement taught us not to be afraid," said John Echo Hawk, great-grandson of a Pawnee warrior, in 1986.1 Indians had a tradition of resistance to whites from the seventeenth century through the nineteenth, but in the late 1940s and 1950s, Indians were generally dispirited. Although the Indian Reorganization Act ...

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Chapter Twelve "America Is in the Heart": Asian Sojourners No Longer

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pp. 225-238

Supposing, for the sake of an example, that the Japanese on one of our mandated islands in the Pacific should develop the island by bringing in a great number of American citizens, and finally they had a situation where 110,000 red blooded American citizens were on the island where there were 18,000 pure-blooded Japanese. ...

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Chapter Thirteen "Can't They See? I Love This Country ... ": Mexican-Americans and the Battle Against Sojourner Pluralism

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pp. 239-272

In 1943, Ernesto Galarza had just completed his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University on Mexico's electric light and power industry. Inspired by the ideals of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution, he had worked to end exploitation of agricultural workers. Puzzled when his opponents tried to ...

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Whenever large numbers of new kinds of immigrants arrived, anxieties were raised about the strangers' ways and whether or not Americans could preserve their unity as a nation. After passage of the 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act and of the Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. once again became ...

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Chapter Fourteen The Blood of All Nations: The Sources of Ethnicity Become Global

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pp. 275-288

Imagine Michel Guillaume Jean de Cr

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Chapter Fifteen "From the Mountains, to the Prairies, to the Oceans ... ": The Spread of Ethnic Diversity

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pp. 289-304

Writing Inside U.S.A. in 1947, John Gunther noted that "the foreign born scarcely exist" in Oklahoma, making up just under one percent of the population of that state.1 By the mid- 1980s, more than one thousand immigrants were arriving in Oklahoma annually, and the state ranked twenty-sixth in its proportion ...

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Chapter Sixteen Tacos and Kimchee: The Quickening Pace of Ethnic Interaction

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pp. 305-325

On the Green Bay peninsula in Wisconsin, a visitor in the mid- 1980s would have found some families who still spoke the Walloon dialect of Belgium and kept alive customs of the southern provinces of that country, such as the "kermiss," the thanksgiving for the harvest. In rural Wisconsin the visitor would have found ...

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Chapter Seventeen The Kashaya and the Nyingma: Identities and Boundaries

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pp. 326-339

There is a large stretch of coastal land in Sonoma County, California, that belonged to the Kashaya Indians long before Russian traders came in the early nineteenth century to establish the settlement now called Fort Ross. By 1985, only about a dozen Kashaya families were left on a forty-acre reservation. On my way to it ...

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Chapter Eighteen "The Wish of the Founding Fathers": Third World Immigrants Embrace the Civic Culture

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pp. 340-358

In the twelve cities in which the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy held public hearings in 1979-1980, a time was always set aside for unscheduled witnesses to testify before what was called the open microphone. Such witnesses would sign up during the course of the day and be taken in order from the beginning ...

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Chapter Nineteen "All These ... Are the Life Blood of America": Celebrating Diversity

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pp. 359-371

Millions of Americans and foreign nationals visiting the U.S.A. Exhibition at the Epcot Center in Disney World in the 1970s and 1980s saw a multimedia show, including figures from American history, in which one of the two narrators, Mark Twain, (the other was Benjamin Franklin) exclaimed, ...

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Chapter Twenty Xenophobia, Racism, and Bigotry: Conflict in the Kaleidoscope

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pp. 372-380

Ethnic conflict, bigotry, and violence were also part of the ethnic landscape in the 1970s and 1980s. Conflict and violence had declined since the 1960s, when riots erupted in a number of cities, but the patterns of xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism, and ethnic conflict over territory, jobs, and power continued. ...

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pp. 381-383

When, in 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev suggested to a group of American congressmen visiting Moscow that the U.S. should set up autonomous regions for its large racial and religious minorities in order to have a truly pluralistic society, Representative Les Aspin (D-Wisconsin) pointed out that Gorbachev did not ...

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Chapter Twenty-One "Equal and Exact Justice": The Civil Rights Compact

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pp. 384-404

The myth of equal rights always had a powerful grip on the consciousness of Americans. But the gap between myth and reality had been enormous. Until the 1970s and 1980s, public officials had spoken with great passion about equal rights for all without awareness that the rhetoric had no meaning for millions of Americans, ...

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Chapter Twenty-Two ''To Get Beyond Racism": Integrating Education and Housing

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pp. 405-424

In June 1958, an African-American woman named Virginia Mildred Jeeter and a white man, Richard Loving, married in the District of Columbia and returned to their home in Virginia, where they were indicted for violating that state's ban on interracial marriages. Nine years later, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed their convictions. ...

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Chapter Twenty-Three ''To Get Beyond Racism": Political Access and Economic Opportunity

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pp. 425-457

SEGREGATION in schools and housing were signs of caste; denial of the right to vote and of economic opportunity constituted the basis of caste. Votes and jobs were at the heart of a better life for African-Americans. Without them, decent schools, housing, and access to good public accommodations would be out of reach, ...

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Chapter Twenty-Four Respecting Diversity, Promoting Unity: The Language Issue

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pp. 458-473

The new federal Constitution said nothing about language, but Noah Webster, creator and conservator of American English, wrote in 1789 that "our political harmony is therefore concerned in a uniformity of language."1 Webster was partly right. English became the public language of almost all citizens, ...

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Chapter Twenty-Five Questions of Membership: Who Are the Outsiders?

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pp. 474-494

All countries that accept immigration decide the degree to which newcomers are accorded membership in the polity. After the Second World War, U.S. barriers that had been set earlier against Asians and Latinos (compared to Europeans) were substantially removed, making the American approach to immigration ...


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pp. 495-596


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pp. 597-618

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Lawrence H. Fuchs, Meyer and Walter Jaffee Professor of American Civilization & Politics at Brandeis University, was appointed by President Carter and the Congress as executive director of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy. The Commission's 1981 report became the basis for the Immigration Reform ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819572448
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819551221

Page Count: 646
Publication Year: 1990