My Turn: What happened to the great melting pot?

For the Monitor
Published: 6/13/2021 8:30:11 AM

As a child, I lived in many places with many different cultures, yet all in one country — the United States. We walked to school together, sat in class together, ate lunch together and talked about our differences as if they were the successes of our ancestors. In class, we were taught about the great melting pot and the arrival of people to the new world. Many spoke of their parents or grandparents as having passed through the great halls on their way to be an American.

We were taught the differences. I remember the teacher talking about a beautiful church with unbelievable stonework and how the Italian stoneworkers had come to build it. We talked about the Scottish and the sweet sounds of the bagpipes. We sat and listened as our classmates from the Arab world told us of their history and customs.

Not once did we speak of anyone as evil. We were each different, but the same. We had all come here and struggled. We discussed the enslaving of others, be it Irish indentured servants or the Africans that were enslaved and brought to the new world, but we were always taught how so many refused to give up or give in.

We learned about many like Dr. Carver who used their minds to make life better for all, and we learned how working together ended tragedies committed upon man. We learned that each of us had worth and that worth was strengthened by the great melting pot called the United States of America.

What we were taught made a difference to all that I encountered. My father’s friends from the war were always welcome to sit and eat with the family, as were my friends no matter where they were from, or what their race or ethnicity was.

Critical Race Theory seeks to do the opposite of what I learned during my days in school. It is geared to separate by the color of skin and it is designed to make each color despise the others based on incidences in their ancestors' past. It strives to force us to live in the past rather than reach out to a brighter future together.

It’s imperative that we stop the teaching of racism and hatred. It is time to teach what we know produces a better tomorrow. We as a nation are the great melting pot of the world. Together, we have liberated many others who would otherwise have been exterminated and enslaved.

The division being forced upon us is not one we should accept. I know I won’t. I see every man as a good man seeking the best for his family and I see every woman as the one God entrusted to continue the life he created. It doesn’t matter the color of their skin or the accent in their voice. I will stand with every freedom-loving person in America. I will because each of us searches for the same happiness and freedom not only for ourselves but also for our families.

For so many decades we have been able to achieve our needs when we have worked together, one nation. We have a start, a way to reinforce these important examples once taken for granted. HB 2 makes it illegal to teach a child to hate another because of their skin color or gender. It stops the insane idea of separating young children by race in school, and it requires they be taught the lessons of the great melting pot.

The time to stand together again is now.

(Robert Clegg is a former NH Senate Majority Leader and former NH House Speaker Pro Tem. He is currently a senior partner with Legislative Solutions.)

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