Long known as the “melting pot,” the United States of America embodies a culture unique in the world. Where other cultures have failed around the globe, those tired, poor and huddled have sought America’s shores. It is not for “multiculturalism” — the U.S. has always been an “American” culture — but for “Americanism” — the reason this nation has been sought out by millions. In the century that was witness to Lincoln, Kennedy and King, Americanism accomplished the extraordinary in race, suffrage, science and industry.
Yet in the half-century since, this nation has regressed. Today, Americans fight for division by class, race and status — regardless of ideology — and risk destroying everything on which this nation was built. Americans have lost themselves in a cultural war based on self-serving and misguided indignation.
The insanity of political correctness and the audacity of engineered outrage are anathema to Americanism. The solution isn’t to be found in legislated moderation or radical revolution, but awaits the people of this nation in a “rational revolution.”
Lewiston has been witness to generations of French and Irish immigrants who located here for no other reason than work. They did not migrate to Maine to be “on the take” from anyone but their employer. And while there certainly were clashes between French and Irish, Catholic and Protestant, at the end of the day they chose assimilation, embraced the many facets of Americanism and were proud to become not only American citizens, but “Americans” through and through.
Today’s residents owe them much. Shying away from those truths will fail the test of time.
So, what has happened to Lewiston? The clamoring claims that racism is the cause (from many on the left and the right) are shortsighted, intellectually weak and politically expedient. How, then, after so many political missteps in Lewiston and the state during the past decade, can people continue to ignore the root cause? History has been ignored.
Scholars of jazz may recall that it was 75 years ago when Duke Ellington composed the magnum opus “Black, Brown and Beige,” which was, in his own words, “a parallel to the history of the American Negro.” It celebrated the journey from slavery to freedom and the subsequent assimilation and social progress that carried forward through the Second World War.
While Ellington knew the struggle within his tone-parallel was incomplete, he still cherished dearly what mattered most — a future based, not on racial disparity, but assimilation; a spirit of freedom and patriotism for America; a spirit that rejects victimhood, class warfare, bigotry and racism. Long before LBJ’s “Great Society,” Duke Ellington had identified the true greatness of American society — it embodied the body, mind and soul — that people were Americans first and gave light to the world, not because of the nation’s pain, but because of the nation’s potential.
As history shows, Lewiston has been welcoming people of color for 100 years, co-existing with seasonal migrants who often worked harder than many full-time residents. But what drew them here? They didn’t arrive seeking out welfare, social services, cars, phones, GA or food stamps. When work ceased to be available, they left. History also notes that, by the 1990s, both Lewiston and Auburn cheerfully elected a mayor of color and would likely do so again.
Only when the pillars of Americanism are held up as lenses to evaluate Lewiston’s recent violence will this city get turned around. In 2012, former Mayor Bob Macdonald made an effort to allude to some aspects of this fact. Unfortunately, while his intentions were noble, his message was lost in a media frenzy fueled by his oversimplified and politically incorrect candor.
As experienced across this nation today, multi-culturalism and political correctness have devolved into wretched forms of cultural Marxism — a trigger term for neo-liberal progressives because it hits home so closely. Controlling of a person’s speech, thoughts, fears and will by others are all mechanisms used to socially condition, dehumanize and engineer a society. Continuing down that road and ignoring those truths will only add more fuel to the bitterness and frustration felt by many residents in Lewiston, regardless of party, race or religion.
Americans are one culture, not one race. Each person has a unique heritage and story. People are of many colors, parties and religions, yet are fully capable of living in harmony so long as they remain one American culture. Throughout history, this “Americanism” has remained the single greatest tie that binds the people as a nation. If people choose to abandon it to the false promises of multi-culturalism, they will have lost their nation.
Want a solution?
Respect your fellow man. Think beyond the rhetoric. Speak the truth. Vote wisely for city, county, state and federal leaders. And never be afraid to be an American patriot.
Michael Lachance served two terms at Lewiston’s Ward 7 City Councilor and currently serves on the Lewiston Finance Committee.