Team USA and the melting pot

Written by Turner Hubby

Citizenship is a provocative topic in American politics. I thoroughly enjoy Walzer’s argument about American citizenship. When I went through my notes I loved how Dr. Kirkpatrick broke down the argument into three main points. In this post, I want to examine how one of my favorite School House Rock songs and the recent Winter Olympics depict Walzer’s argument and show its continued relevance in the debate on what American citizenship is.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/trying-to-make-team-usa-look-more-like-america/2018/02/02/422ca13a-04fe-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html?utm_term=.1b6ba78f0438

The first point of his argument is American citizenship is many things that make up one. To begin with the song, the chorus is all about America being many things but being one thing at the same time. “You simply melt right in, it doesn’t matter what your skin. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, Or your religion, you jump right in, To the great American Melting pot. Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue.” This vision of a melting pot is still alive. Recently, the Winter Olympics saw the most diverse Team USA at the Winter Games. The article notes this as an achievement, but with only 10 African Americans and 10 Asian Americans, this isn’t so much a melting pot as it is a White Team USA. Now I understand that the Winter games are different from the Summer Games, but this still lakes the “many” parts of American citizenship that Walzer argues.

Team USA Athletes at the 2018 opening ceremony

Picture: Team USA entering at the 2018 opening ceremony (http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/4030520/team-usa-opening-ceremony-winter-olympics-2018-01/)

From the first argument, I found that the second argument that American citizenship should be hyphenated was relevant in 1977 and still in 2018 America. The article I have included quotes the United States Olympic Committee’s director of diversity and inclusion that sums up to a vision of a team that represents every American. That team USA should, at least on the exterior, be representative of the many countries and races that have immigrated to it. Beyond race, the song included a verse that highlights this second point. “They brought the country’s customs, Their language, and their ways. They filled the factories, tilled the soil, Helped build the U.S.A. Go on and ask your grandma, Hear what she has to tell How great to be an American And something else as well.” For the song being an American is having a pride in the United States but also being proud of your hyphen. That we should all ask our ancestors about our heritage and find our hyphens.
The last part of the argument, the patriotic fevers, is the one that I have the most difficulty in pinpointing. If I understand it correctly as a pendulum (back in forth between a hyphenated American to an American) then these two examples represent a hyphenated American. With the example of Team USA, the article pretty much focuses solely on the race of the athletes and sexual orientation. It doesn’t include the many other aspects (religion, language, culture and so on). So I feel as if the Olympics isn’t at one end or the other of the spectrum, but slowly swinging to the side of hyphenated pride. In conclusion, America’s melting pot was relevant then and is today, it swings back in forth from whether we should be proud of our ingredients or just the whole stew. Based on the Olympics, we are proud of the stew but shifting to focus more on the ingredients like the song.

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One Response to Team USA and the melting pot

  1. krschaue says:

    Hi Turner, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I actually wrote mine on the same topic. I focused on how the United States would not be the country it is today without immigrants from other nations. It is interesting, and also slightly disturbing, to see how national sentiments towards immigrants entering the United States has changed since the election of President Trump in 2016. It seems as if we are trying to switch from a nation of inclusion to one that tries to force out different people from different countries as we please. I feel that the United States as a whole needs to get back to its roots of being a nation built by immigrants. This is part of our national identity and is something that we need to preserve forever. Also, the School House Rock song blasted me back to my childhood so thank you for that.

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