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To The Editor:

Recently, I have been paying more attention to names in the media, on honor roll lists, and in politics in order to understand more about the diversity that America is. Some of the names I can't pronounce without instruction, such as our 7th congressional district representative, Pramila Jayapal. A few decades ago, the overwhelming number of names were European in origin. Now, a growing percentage are Asian, African or Latin American.

When a person with a non-European name is introduced on television, I prepare to hear an accent, but more often than not, the voice comes on as American as apple pie, and I think, anyone can become American.

Fifty years ago, we often debated whether American culture was like a salad bowl, where each culture maintained its distinctiveness, or like a melting pot, where immigrant cultures are overwhelmed and lost in the American stew. The answer, I think, is both.

At a given time, those who recently migrated to America strive to maintain their culture, but the children and grandchildren of those immigrants become thoroughly American, the great engine of integration being, primarily, the public school system.

But if the immigrant families are changed, so is the American culture. Those elements of the immigrants' cultures that function in the American setting are integrated into the general American culture. These contributions might have to do with music or other arts, or language, or religion, or ways of perceiving the world.

America is not a race, or an ancestral line, or a religion. It is an amalgam of world cultures, the political essence of which being the ideas in the founding documents, especially the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution with its amendments. Because of on-going immigration to the U.S. and because of our constant wrestling with what the founding ideas mean in the 21st century context, America is always a work in progress.

So, Mr. Trump, fear not that non-European immigration will destroy American culture. It won't; it will only enrich it. Anyone can become an American.

Larry Lowther



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