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industrious and patriotic than the children of the older stock. From many public libraries comes the report that the immigrants and their children read the serious books while the children of the upper class read novels and detective stories. In some towns, indeed, the public library does not welcome the immigrants; or at least they do not feel at home there, and have not the boldness to intrude. But where an effort is made to show them that they are welcome, they often turn out to be ardent readers of history, science, poetry, biography, and the drama.
The boys and girls of American parentage are very apt to have a sense of superiority which is not warranted. As a matter of fact, most of them know little enough about the duties of citizenship, and think little about either the history of our country or its present problems. They become citizens automatically, by growing up, and are less apt to be conscious of the meaning of citizenship than the alien to whom it is granted as a privilege. We hear of the danger of the “foreign element.” But on the whole, the ignorance of the foreigners is no more dangerous than the apathy of the natives. The bigger part of the task of Americanization is that of Americanizing our native youth, keeping alive in them the vision that fired their fathers, and adding to it the wisdom that our national experience has brought.
There are, of course, special needs of the immigrant. If he does not speak or read English, we must offer him every facility to learn the language of his adopted country. There is no difficulty here except that of the cost of providing instruction and of finding spare energy for learning on the part of tired, hard-working men and women. There is no lack of desire to learn; the immigrant has every reason for learning, it is to his advantage more obviously than to ours. There is no need of coaxing him to learn; and it is a tactical error to require him to learn, by compulsory legislation. There is so much forcing of the national language upon minority races in Europe that many immigrants instinctively resent it; it is a sign of the sort of thing they have come to America to escape. We must remember that a knowledge of English by no means ensures loyalty; and we must beware of sacri. ficing the end to the means.
Many an immigrant who can not speak English is intensely loyal. And if the conditions of his life and work are such that it is practically impossible for him to find the time or energy to learn, we must blame our. selves rather than him, and worry more over a harsh industrial order than over his ignorance of English. His children will learn it in the public schools, and will use it in preference to their parents' speech. (Of course it goes without saying that all the public schools in the land must be conducted in English.) Meantime, the foreign-language press can do, and is doing, a valuable service in teaching the non-Englishreading aliens about America and reporting for them the events of the day. With few exceptions, this foreign-language press has been loyal, and of great service in the Americanization process. To attempt to censor it is unnecessary, and would be extremely unwise, undoing our best attempts to describe America as the land of liberty, and showing it to be actually a land of mistrust and repression.
Every effort, also, should be made to teach the various groups of immigrants the meaning and history of our institutions. Much can be done through the trade unions, the churches, the public libraries, the social settlements, community centers, and open
forums, and, of course, the evening schools. Often valuable seed can be sown by some holiday celebration, pageant, or special meeting. Neighborhood singing and neighborhood theatres could be utilized far more than they yet have been. The Boy Scout and Girl Scout movements reach not only the children, with their admirable discipline, but through the children bring often new ideas and attitudes to their parents. In addition to these diverse means, much might be done by the sending of lecturers to speak to various immigrant groups in their own halls, on topics in which they are interested, combating whatever un-American propaganda there may be with open argument and the exposition of American principles.
The work with the children is, of course, of paramount importance. And we should forget the distinction between the children of immigrants and the children of natives. We need a great deal more for all of them than the lifeless "civics" of the typical school course. Mr. Arnold Bennett, in his recent volume, Your United States, writes, “I do positively think that American education does not altogether succeed in the very important business of inculcating public spirit into young citizens." The statement is moderate; in most cases we ignominiously fail. We must teach every child, not only the outward forms of our government and social institutions, but their meaning and spirit. We should teach the ideals that have been wrought into the laws of the land, and show their reasonableness. The great body of our laws are plainly just and righteous; a code of morals is exemplified in them, and can be taught without partisanship or bigotry. Thus the laws and institutions of America will come to seem beneficent instead of repressive. And if there are bad laws, this study of reasons and principles will serve to breed critics of them—the best possible outcome.
Indeed, one of the dangers of which we must beware is that of inculcating a complacent attitude toward our institutions as they are. Americanism should not be thought of as something static, but as something in process of realization. The evils in our present political and industrial order should be frankly faced, and the youth of our land encouraged to consider seriously and with open mind the various reforms proposed. For the danger ahead of us is less that of unrest than that of fatuous optimism and inertia. If we look backward with pride to our past history, it should be to draw fresh inspiration to help us in grappling with the problems of the present. The alien agitator's ignorance of the worth of our institutions is a less menacing evil than the native American's ignorance of their defects. Civics must be taught not as the description of a finished political system, but as the description of a changing set of laws and institutions, which are attempting ever more and more adequately to embody certain fundamental idealsliberty, equality, and the like—but which need the energies of generations yet to perfect.
There is no present danger that alien ideals will undermine our American traditions. The foreigners among us are a comparatively small group; and their prestige is even less than their numbers. Everywhere the older Americans have things in their own hands. Our danger is not that of overthrow by hostile ideals, it is rather that of decay from within. Indeed, the analysis of the “radical” vote in recent elections shows that it has less strength in the States where the immigrant population is largest than in certain Western States where fewer aliens live. And radical. ism by no means always goes with either ignorance or disloyalty. The real strength of radicalism today lies in groups of university graduates, men and women who are perhaps more or less impractical theorists, but who for the most part are idealists and intensely devoted to the welfare of their country. The complete stoppage of immigration would make little difference in the amount of radical thought. The only way to meet this thought is to meet it; to let it express itself openly, and to answer it in earnest but goodtempered discussion. Met in that manner it will be a salutary ingredient in our national life, balancing the inert standpat-ism of other groups and contributing its insights to our counsels.
The Freudian psychologists have taught us of the danger to our mental life from the isolation and suppression of certain ideas and complexes.” So in our social life, the danger lies in the isolation of groups, whose ideas become more and more set and fanatical from lack of contact with other currents of thought. If there is suppression by an unsympathetic majority, we have all the conditions of social hysteria. What we need is the application of the "melting-pot” concept not only to racial stocks, but to their ideas. Above all things we must beware of allowing a dominant majority to attempt to rubberstamp our people with their particular beliefs. We must welcome the contributions of diverse races and schools of thought, seeking to learn something from each and to weave them all into the texture of our growing civilization.
We have in this country a unique opportunity to profit by the rich cultural heritage of the various immigrant groups. The American of the future is to be a composite photograph, a blend of these diverse traits. Each strain has its values, has something to