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July 2014 - Volume 20, Number 3


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E Pluribus Unum

By Roger Clegg, President and General Counsel
The Center for Equal Opportunity


My top-ten list of rules for a multicultural America to live by.

America has always been a multiracial and multiethnic country. But saying that it should be multicultural is very different. The ideal was, and still should be, that you can come to America from any country and become an American – but that means accepting some degree of assimilation. It is not diversity that we celebrate most, but what we hold in common.


The same is also true for native-born Americans. All of us can claim equally to be Americans, but all must acknowledge a shared set of beliefs and mores.


Accordingly, it makes sense to set out rules essential for a multiracial, multiethnic America that all Americans should follow – wherever they or their ancestors came from, whatever their skin color, whatever their favorite food or dance.


Here are my ten, aimed as much at the native-born as the newly arrived.


1. Don’t disparage anyone else’s race or ethnicity. On the list of things we don’t tolerate, intolerance deserves a prominent position. If we are to be one nation, we cannot criticize one another’s skin color and ancestors.


2. Respect women. Just as we do not tolerate a lack of respect based on race or ancestry, we also demand respect regardless of sex. Some subcultures – foreign and domestic – put down women. That is not acceptable.


3. Learn to speak English. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn other languages, or keep up a native language. But you and your children must learn English – standard English – as quickly as you can.


4. Don’t be rude. Some people view it as unmanly or uncool to be polite. Not every culture is a stickler for taking turns, queuing up, and following the rules (see next item), but Americans follow the British here.


5. Don’t break the law. If you want to participate in this republic – if you want a say in making the rules and electing those who make them – you have to follow the laws yourself.


6. Don’t have children out of wedlock. Illegitimacy is a social disaster for women and children alike. In the United States it takes two parents.


7. Don’t demand anything because of your race, ethnicity, or sex. You have the right not to be discriminated against, and it follows that you also cannot demand discrimination in your favor.


8. Working hard in school and on the job – and saving money are not “acting white.” America owes her success to a strong work ethic and to parents instilling that ethic in their children.


9. Don’t hold historical grudges. There is not a single group in the United States that has not been discriminated against at one time or another. We are a forward-looking country and so we cannot afford to dwell on the past.


10. Be proud of being an American. You can hardly expect to be accepted by other Americans if you don’t love America. This is not a perfect country, and it does not have a perfect history. But there is no country better than the United States. If you disagree, then why are you here?


Roger Clegg is President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity and a graduate of Yale University Law School.


© 2000 by National Review, Inc. Reprinted by permission.Authorized by: Nat Brown, Date: July 9, 2014. Originally published September 12, 2000.


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