Salome of the Tenements: Book Analysis

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  • Topic: Anglo-Saxons, Saxons, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
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  • Published : April 24, 2013
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Randolph Bourne in his essay, Transnational America, discusses the pitfall of the melting pot due to its prerequisite that immigrants conform to the Anglo Saxon model on which America was based. He begins his essay by attacking the “Brahmin” (Bourne, 171). Anglo Saxon for their monopolistic way of defining what it means to be American. He believes that Anglo Saxon society is hypocritical for criticizing immigrants for holding onto their culture, when in fact the WASPS cling onto theirs. He claims that by forcing the immigrant to assimilate into WASP culture the country is losing out on the opportunity to broaden its cultural development, and instead creating half breeds that are caught in between the culture of their homeland and WASP culture. He concludes with the hope that by expanding peoples’ views to include the uniqueness in each immigrant culture, America would become a Trans-National nation where different ideas and backgrounds would propel the country towards greatness. Although one can characterize Bourne’s essay as being progressive, one particular statement that stands out is: “We have needed the new peoples--the order of the German and Scandinavian, the turbulence of the Slav and Hun--to save us from our own stagnation. I do not mean that the illiterate Slav is now the equal of the New Englander of pure descent. He is raw material to be educated, not into a New Englander, but into a socialized American.” (Bourne, 172). He goes on a couple sentences later to say “Let us speak, not of inferior races, but of inferior civilizations. We are all to educate and to be educated.” (Bourne, 172). While the sentiment itself should be lauded, the patronizing nature of the thought leaves much to be desired. Bourne is essentially saying that there is a hierarchy in the land, and the Anglo Saxon is at the head. Therefore the immigrant needs to be taught by the superior Anglo Saxon, and perhaps the Anglo Saxon will stand to learn something as well. While reading...
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