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Beyond the Metaphors: The Myths and Misconceptions of American Assimilationism

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The American metaphor of the immigrant experience, the melting pot, has reemerged in the recent climate of economic insecurieties and a largely non-European wave of immigration. Present day assimilationists, like their predecessors, preach the need for new arrivals to conform to a uniquely “American” way of being, while hiding their true agenda of maintaining the dominance of European Americans over the marginalised segments of society. The following assimilationalist arguments will be considered: (1) assimilation rather than cultural pluralism supports the goals of civil rights; (2) bilingual education prevents immigrants from learning English and hinders their admittance to American society; (3) the continued use of native languages in daily life further deters immigrants from acquiring English and derails their dreams of success and (4) acceptance in America requires immigrants to exchange their value systems for an American value system. The future of quality education for minorities and the realisation of an inclusive, multicultural society rest on a strong commitment to assimilationist discourse.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Hostos Community College The City University of New York.

Publication date: January 1, 1994

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