Ellis Island Nation has fresh perceptual arguments about the state of refugee assimilation into American culture. In order to grasp the notion of belonging and accepting American culture, American identity as a social concept is discussed. It must be recognized that in American history, the question of immigration was a spark of divergent problems. Therefore, the text discusses some of these concerns with respect to the immigrant phenomenon in America through the blending of national, scholarly, and civic debate views. The authors were cognizant of the fact that the diversity of the US population was continuing to transform with the influx of immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America. On the basic level, the text notes that Latino and Asian immigrant retain native culture and do not adopt the American culture. The authors however comment the immigrants who entered America through the Ellis Island from Eastern and Southern Europe for greatly assimilating into the American traditions. The text explores the American cultural mix and its characteristics based on phenomena that have arisen out of it. This includes issues of ethnicity, tolerance to immigrants, immigration laws and notions of pluralism due to the diversity of the population.
The cultural richness of America due to migrants is described in the phenomenon that Fleeglar terms as _x0093_contributionism_x0094_. He defines it as emphasizing _x0093_that the cultural and economic assets of immigrants enriched America by celebrating the unique benefits of immigrants_x0092_ native cultures to American life_x0094_ (Fleeglar 12). This is to presuppose that immigrants who come to America do so because they like the American culture and that then they should embrace it. The aspects of their native culture only come to bolster the American culture. This is as opposed to immigrating into America and holding on from to the culture that one came from which thing the author portrays Asian, African and Latino immigrants to do. The text explains the idea of contributionism as different from universalism or the more recent notion of multiculturalism. The last two view each culture within American within its own right while contributionism assesses the extent of minority immigrant cultures being blended into tem mainstream American culture to enrich it. The as such focuses on illustrating the way that contributionism and universalism were involved in a struggle in the course of World War II. He treats this as having been an indication of nativism which illustration becomes resourceful in Fleeglar_x0092_s interpretation in the initial sections of the study.
The demonstration born out of this is that due to the universalism of the wartime immigrants of European descent felt comfortable as Americans. It was a pluralism that respected every culture and which emphasized what is in the book termed as _x0093_melting_x0094_ (Fleeglar 66). Every of the people from eastern and southern Europe, southern could became Americans, Italians, Russians, Slovakians and due to religious pluralism, Catholics, protestants and Jews. He demonstrates this somewhat straightforward assimilation of these European tribes as a contrast to Asian and Latino Immigrants. However, the contributionist fight that landed American status to these immigrants was through mutating immigration law. Refugees and displaced person were locked out due to the narrowness of the immigration law. This was when the contributinists won through the passing of the 1965 Hart-Celle Act which saw immigration starting to be closely hinged to the civil rights push and issues of economic justice (Fleeglar 112). The state of being American was made flexible to just entail capability of community and family life and integration into society. The racial basis for letting in immigrants on grounds of their nationality was eliminated and hence demonstrating a process of assimilation and acceptance into the American society.
The book_x0092_s strength is in the way it makes an argument based on a chronological flow. This periodization is what makes for the books greatest strength. As such, every chapter while referring to the same sources has enough space to address issues and explore ideologies with respect to the particular period under discussion. This resulted in making a case for how national origins disintegrated as a basis for prejudice to lead to accommodation and tolerance. Eastern and southern European immigrants made dropped loyalty to their countries of origin and embraced the realities of their new environment. However, this was not an event but a process that is illustrated in a series of chapters. The various ideological and religious battles that were involved were often shaped by the political, social and economic environment of the time. This is the reason why periodization of the chapters is in tandem with world wars, the cold-war and civil rights era, and considers the post-war environment and the ethnic and racial thinking that had emerged as a byproduct of preceding periods. He also shows how the immigration issue has metamorphosed in the course of time to the later twentieth century concept of multiculturalism. This makes the reader live in the moments of each historical period while traversing the American immigrant landscape as it developed at different periods.
The book however touches on the issue of religious pluralism but has a weakness when it presents it as the hallmark of immigration reform. This creates the discussion on faith-based Americanism which was predominantly if not entirely Judeo-Christian. Religious tolerance was not absolute in America in the period following World War II. The denominations that enjoyed tolerance for religious difference were Protestant, Catholic and Jewish. The faith-based Americanism debate did not put Hinduism, Islam or Confucianism into picture. This is one of the weaknesses of the book for not recognizing the exemptions in religious tolerance at this time. Besides the issue of decent in terms of race and origin on grounds of nationality, at the in the US, it mattered a lot the religion or faith that one held. When the author presents religious pluralism as having eliminated all sorts of religious intolerance creates a vague claim. This is even more evident with the atheist whose journey to acquire recognition was even longer. The anti-atheists found a close relation between eastern European orthodoxy, atheism and the cold-war and particularly the communism doctrine. This expressly suggests that the way that a person could be handled was based on the faith they professed until later on. However, faith issues have even sparked up again in the wake of terrorism recently.
The book therefore describes the circumstantial aspects that surrounded the immigration phenomenon in USA. The role that the concept of contributionism played is illustrated as the one factor that set the stage for tolerance as ethnic tolerance started seeing in light of its benefits. This is what catapulted the flexibility in the immigration laws that were passed in the 1960s and as well created a platform on which identity politics would play out in the 1970s and 1980s.
Fleegler, Robert L. Ellis Island Nation: Immigration policy and American identity in the twentieth century. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.