This ABC News What Would You Do experiment shows two definitions of what it means to be an American. The experiment is a representation of the larger divide in our country concerning minorities in general and Muslims in particular. The rise in hate-crimes against Muslims and anti-Muslim rhetoric makes many Muslims feel unwelcome in America, even if they are American natives and citizens. Some consider Muslim Americans to be completely equal to other Americans, for lack of a better term I will refer to this group as “multiculturalists.” Others, let’s call them anti-multiculturalists do not consider American Muslims to be real Americans. Furthermore, anyone who opposes this view is considered unpatriotic and un-American even if they are not Muslim.
One of the main reasons for viewing Muslims as un-American is that there is a general misrepresentation of what America’s foundation represents. America came into existence because people wanted to practice their religion freely, anti-multiculturalists discrimination against other Americans simply because they practice another religion is a pure example of contradiction. There is no such thing as an “American look” or American “way of life” because we are all diverse. The American community consists of people who immigrated from all around the world with different cultures and religions. The concept of an American can be defined in many ways. The term “American” is like fluid, it fits in whatever shape it falls into. Anti-multiculturalists who believe that America can be represented in one person, trait, religion or culture are the ones that make Muslims as “others.”
In the ABC experiment, one of the men gave the actor a thumb up for discriminating against the Muslim actor, when the reporter confronted him he also said to the reporter that he is not American. Anti-multiculturalists define American as being white, but then make that definition narrower when a while multiculturalist holds different views, and they also become un-American or unpatriotic. One of the main fears of anti-multiculturalists is extremism, but making minorities feel unwelcome and like outsiders only feeds into the cycle of violence and hatred. One must wonder why countries that do not have polarized views and policies toward minorities do not have the same problems concerning violence, terrorism, wars that we have.
Although many describe America as a melting pot, a melting pot is not the best analogy because it assumes that we all melt and become the same thing. America is better described as a salad where the lettuce can remain a lettuce and the tomato can remain a tomato while simultaneously coexisting with others.