American Culture What is the American culture? The United States is a proud melting pot of diversity, people from anywhere in the world can make America their home. The very thing that makes us such a great and unique nation may also be the very thing that makes us a divided nation. “Americanism” is a piece that inspires unity and a singular culture amongst society, while “Kiss of Death” seems to promote the preservation of sub-culture and ethnic identity. Which one of these articles is right? Are they both right? Are they both wrong?
One of the most important aspects of human relations is the ability to communicate. We must all communicate with each other on a constant basis. The real problem occurs when one or both parties aren’t communicating due to a language barrier. This problem seems pretty simple to most Americans, just make everyone speak English. It is assumed that the official language of the United States is English anyway. This may come as a shock to some but the United States has no official language defined in our constitution. Theodore Roosevelt’s proposed resolution to this problem was to “Americanize” immigrants.
President Roosevelt stated that immigrants should “talk the language of its native-born fellow-citizens”(326). We must remember however that there are always two sides to every argument. We discovered in Armando Rendon’s article that immigrants to this country face a struggle between the language learned at school and the language used “when playing or arguing with friends”(341). Rendon states that as a Mexican-American “Spanish was off-limits in school”(341). Language is only yet another divider amongst the American people and another asterisk attached to American culture.
We may all have a picture of what American society should look like in our heads. President Roosevelt had a clear picture in his head when he stated that he believes hyphenated-Americans do not belong in the United States. The true question is what do we give up when we erase the hyphen from our name. It is widely accepted that being an American citizen requires allegiance to this nation above all other ties we may have. We must consider however the negative consequences to giving up part of our heritage just because we choose to live in the United States.
Rendon writes that by the time he finished high school, he had let go of his Mexican heritage. He felt no allegiance with his mother country, he drew no inspiration from his roots and “elected generally to let it fade away”(342). According to Roosevelt’s standards Rendon had become “Americanized” but to Rendon he was just a “victim to the Anglo”(341). “Americanism” is a powerful piece that rallies Americans of all creeds and backgrounds to unify under a specific cause, but to Rendon and many other immigrants the integrating into American society only created a struggle between heritage and citizenship.
The idea of success to Theodore Roosevelt was pretty easy to gather from his writings. President Roosevelt wanted all citizens to support him and the United States position in the first world war. Roosevelt championed better living conditions and working environments for the immigrants however he expected immigrants to conform to his idea of being an American. In complete contrast Armando Rendon’s view of success was when America had conformed around him and his peoples culture.
Rendon felt successful because the Chicano people had rescued him from the “Anglo kiss of death”(344). Rendon and Roosevelt probably would not have agreed on what an American looks like, but each author writes passionately about their ideas and goals for a better America. WORKS CITED Roosevelt, Theodore. “Americanism” Sundance Choice: for Writing Across the Curriculum. Ed. Mark Connelly. Mason: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2006. Print. Rendon, Armando. “Kiss of death” Sundance Choice: for Writing Across the Curriculum. Ed. Mark Connelly. Mason: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2006. Print.