Coming to America

Mike Petrilli’s “Netflix Academy” wraps up by recommending the best streaming videos on immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Petrilli’s Italian ancestors were part of the “huddled masses,” he writes.

My Russian Jewish ancestors came over then too. Grandpa Sol was eight or so when they reached New York City just after the turn of the century. I asked him once about Russia. “It was bad there,” he said. “It’s good here.” That was all I got out of him, but it was enough.

I’m a little shocked at Schoolhouse Rock’s unabashed embrace of assimilation. It dates from 1977, before America was a glorious mosaic/salad.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I remember explicit lessons about this melting pot stuff from kindergarten and second grade.

    But there are two schools of thought about this. The first is that the culture has an obligation to adapt to and assimilate new blood from outside.

    The second includes the first, but also includes a reciprocal obligation for the newcomers to adapt to the culture as well.

    I’m firmly in the second camp, but people in the first camp sometimes think people in the second camp are part of the Borg or something. In college I was sometimes referred to (and always by white people) as “The Great Assimilationist”.

    I do not believe it was intended as a compliment.