REINVENTING THE MELTING POT
The New Immigrants and
What It Means To Be American
Basic Books, Paperback Edition, November 2004
Basic Books, Hardcover Edition, February 2004
Edited by Tamar Jacoby
Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow
Does the melting pot still work? Should it? What does it mean to become an American in an era of globalization, the internet, identity politics, ethnic niche advertising and a TV remote with a hundred or more different channels?
Led by Tamar Jacoby, twenty-one of the writers who have thought longest and hardest about immigration come together around a surprising consensus: yes, immigrant absorption still works—and given the number of newcomers arriving today, the nation’s future depends on it. But that doesn’t mean assimilation has to look or feel like a 1950s stereotype. It need not be incompatible with ethnic identity—and we as a nation need to find new ways to talk about and encourage becoming American.
The stakes could hardly be higher. One in nine Americans is an immigrant. Nearly one-fifth of U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. The number of foreign-born Americans—33 million and growing—now exceeds the entire population of Canada. And in the wake of 9/11, with the nation as a whole thinking harder than ever before about what it means to be American, it couldn’t be more important to help these newcomers find a way to fit in.
Hailing from across the ideological spectrum, the contributors to REINVENTING THE MELTING POT include distinguished social scientists, prize-winning journalists and fiction-writers—thinkers like Nathan Glazer, Herbert Gans, John McWhorter, Michael Barone, Pete Hamill and Stanley Crouch. They consider every aspect of the issue: from how today's new arrivals are different than yesterday's to how immigrant businesses are faring in the Houston suburbs. Yet running through their essays is a single, common theme: although ethnicity plays a more important role now than ever before, today's newcomers can and will become Americans and enrich our national life—reinventing the melting pot and reminding us all just what it is we have in common.
Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Someone Else's House: America's Unfinished Struggle for Integration. Formerly with The New York Times and Newsweek, she writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, Commentary and other publications. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
"...a thoughtful, provocative collection of essays that reconsiders and ultimately attempts to reinvent the traditional myth of the American melting pot." —Booklist
"...this important book shows that there is nothing more American than a debate over what it means to be an American." —Wall Street Journal
Someone Else's House:
America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration