The cosmopolitan model of US society is my name for the idea that the US brings together people from all over the world to create something new, hopefully the best the world has to offer, from pizza to jazz to the Magna Carta. What makes the US great is not a particular culture or race or religion, but its political ideas of freedom, equality and democracy.
Sappy catchphrase: Diversity is our strength.
Its evil twin is what I call the diseased-host model: the US as a White Christian nation. What Trump and many Whites seem to believe. To them Mexicans and Muslims and so on are a threat to America As We Know It. For Steve “Clash of Civilizations” Bannon and the alt-right it is not just the US that is under threat but all of Western civilization!
Near beer: There are some closely related models that are not quite cosmopolitan:
- melting pot – assumes everyone should assimilate and take on Anglo American ways.
- multiculturalism – a White paternalistic model where “we” “tolerate” or “appreciate” “other” cultures – or throw them in as window-dressing tokens.
- nation of immigrants – can also be assimilationist.
In practice, these centre-stage Whites. But under the cosmopolitan model the US does not even have to be White. In fact, it is White racism and nativism, a la Donald Trump, that is the threat to America As We Know It Can Be.
- Western universalism: US political ideas are the best for the whole human race. In this sense it is ethnocentric, an excuse for imperialism.
- Immigration: a good thing. The US as a coat of many colours held together by its political ideas and institutions, not by Anglo-American culture.
- Equal opportunity: what is meant by “equality”. The US succeeds or fails to the degree this is offered to everyone. You should be able to come from nothing and make it. The Bootstrap Myth assumes this is already true. The numbers on social mobility say otherwise.
- Racism: a backward and dangerous idea. See equal opportunity.
- Religion: a private matter, not something to shove down people’s throats. But public displays of religion (burkas, yamulkes, mosques, etc) are fine. Live and let live. Freedom of religion is part of what makes the US great.
- US American exceptionalism: yes!
Amy Chua argues that the US lead in science and technology, and therefore its military edge, comes from its openness to taking in people from all over the world. It made possible the Jewish and then Asian brain drains, the atom bomb and Silicon Valley.
Making America great: Both the cosmopolitan and diseased-host models believe in American exceptionalism and try to bottle what “makes America great” as a guide to thought and action. But both models are fairy tales. The “greatness” of the US comes not from the bloodlines of Europe’s economic failures and religious misfits, those who came to the US. Nor does it come from the political ideas of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. It comes from the barrel of a gun.
– Abagond, 2017.
- other models:
- its political ideas:
- Amy Chua
- Asian brain drain
- Bootstrap Myth
- Donald Trump
- Anglo Americans