In 1915 America was in crisis. The large wave of immigrants had threatened what people deemed the “American way of life.” In other words, people didn’t like that others were different from them. It was in this culture that Jewish scholar and writer Horace Kallen wrote his 1915 essay “Democracy versus the Melting Pot.” Kallen challenged the popular notion of America as a melting pot. To Kallen the very idea of a melting pot contradicts part of what it means to be American, of a country of people founded on freedom and equality. He challenged that America was not a melting pot, but a symphony. In a symphony, the different instruments work together, creating a distinct sound that cannot be made of a group of instruments that are all the same.
Originally posted at lukeaholmes.com.