In “American Ideals”, Theodore Roosevelt emphasized that immigrants who moved to the U.S. to start a new life should obliterate the connections that they had with their “Old-World society”, and “throw [themselves] heart and soul, and without reservation” in their effort of becoming a true American. As an Asian American, I came to the U.S. about 12 years ago and had to face this issue at first hand. Being a young boy, I found it extremely challenging to make all types of transitions since there was such a distinctive contrast between the two languages, customs, and ways of life. Even after all this time, I still couldn’t entirely erase those original characteristics, such as “a barbarous jargon” or traditions that make me seem like “an uncouth boor”. Personally, I believe that what Roosevelt wanted is nearly impossible to achieve because everything that happens in a person’s life becomes imprinted so deeply within their soul that it forms an essence that epitomize their ethnic roots and heritage. Even though I agree with Roosevelt’s ideology that immigrants should assimilate to the dominant culture in order to be successful, I am still prideful of my Asian culture, and will continue to preserve it so one day I will have the opportunity to pass it down to future generations.
From Roosevelt perspective, he not only advised immigrants to become “thoroughly Americanized” but that “we have the right to demand it”. I found this idea outrageous and despicable due to its contradiction to what this country is all about and the ambiguity of the phrase “thoroughly Americanized”. We live in a country that exemplifies the idea of freedom and liberty, so what right do we have to tell other people that they have to live their life like an American? Besides, in my opinion, I don’t think there is an exact way to define an “American” due to the fact that this country is made up of immigrants to begin with. Our mosaic culture is a result of combining all our individuality into a heterogeneous mixture and for that reason the definition of what an American is varies greatly depending on who you ask. On the other hand, I suppose there are some unified ideas that most American citizens share and that immigrants should absorb and retain, such as religious toleration, civil freedom, and a sense of patriotism. However, I hope Roosevelt’s idea of “True Americanism” won’t overstep that fine line and blossom into something that would suppress our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In order to preserve the purity of the American culture, Roosevelt also suggested “more drastic laws to check and regulate our immigration”. We know that not everyone is willing to adapt to the American way of life or even if they’ve came here for the right reason. When a country “freely extend the hand of welcome and of good-fellowship to every man”, it is susceptible to numerous negative influences that could lead to internal chaos and devastations. Without taking the proper security measure, we won’t know if the people we are allowing to enter our land of opportunity would work hard and persevere on their journey to the American dream, or abuse their privileges and expose the vulnerability of our country as they wreak havoc in our nation. This land should act as a stepping stone for those with virtuous goals, or a blank canvas for those who wanted a fresh start, yet because of those unworthy immigrants, who introduced their “Old-World quarrels and prejudices”, we are beginning to see our personal freedom become more and more restricted as time passes. Nevertheless, instead of preventing the foreign corruption that exists within our territory, I find that the stricter regulations has only caused more inconvenience and despair to our devoted citizens, which resulted in more hostility between them and our government.