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Episode 12

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast
Episode 12: The Melting Pot

As you know from earlier discussions, the phrase “The Melting Pot” comes from a play of the same title written in 1908 by a Jewish man named Israel Zangwill. The idea of the United States as a place that collected people of many backgrounds and origins dates back earlier…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

“Early American Immigration Policies | USCIS,” July 30, 2020.

Editors, “Industrial Revolution.” HISTORY. Accessed September 19, 2020.

Immigration History. “Foran Act of 1885 (Aka Alien Contract Labor Law).” Accessed September 19, 2020.

“Immigration in the Early 1900s.” Accessed September 19, 2020.

Lewyn, Michael. “The Real Meaning Of The ‘American Dream.’” Planetizen – Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education. Accessed September 19, 2020.

Nowrasteh, Alex. “Illegal Immigrants and Crime – Assessing the Evidence.” Cato Institute, March 4, 2019.

“Origins of the Federal Immigration Service | USCIS,” July 30, 2020.

Staff, History com. “Chinese Exclusion Act.” HISTORY. Accessed September 19, 2020.

VOA Student Union. “American-Borns Are Increasingly English-Only | Voice of America – English.” Accessed September 19, 2020.

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  1. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    Episode 12 of the podcast discusses the theory of the melting pot and how the United States has handled immigration throughout history and how it is viewed today. It stood out to me how the government created limitations and certain regulations on the types of immigrants that they would allow into the country and how that has created a fear and opposition towards immigrants. This fear still exists today where we often focus on the negative narratives and stereotypes of immigrants that ignore evidence of the opposite. If there was a switch of the depiction of immigrants in the media and in pop culture such as in movies or TV shows, could there be a shift in opinions towards immigrants in the United States? Or are Americans really unable to accept blame of our own failures?

  2. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    What I found most interesting about podcast 11 was that the rates at which children in primary school are learning a language other than english has slowly been decreasing. Thus, showing that may the idealized view of a “melting pot” is no longer that important to our nation. Americans instead are relying on other countries to teach English, showing somewhat of a lack of dedication to globalization and creating global citizens. I have family in Colombia, South America and I have experienced this first hand, as my 11 year-old cousin speaks to me in almost fluent English because I have a hard time using my Spanish. I have always found it impressive how well my younger cousins know English, as well as French, and their native language Spanish. If this trend continues is there a foreseeable future where the US stops teaching languages as a whole in k-12 education? Will this myth of the “melting pot” of America still be a concept in 10 years? 20 years? Or will we have strayed too far from globalization towards exceptionalism?

    • Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley


      What I found most interesting about podcast 11 was that the rates at which children in primary school are learning a language other than english have slowly been decreasing. Thus, showing that the idealized view of a “melting pot” is no longer that important to our nation. Americans instead are relying on other countries to teach English, showing somewhat of a lack of dedication to globalization and creating global citizens. I have family in Colombia, South America and I have experienced this first hand, as my 11 year-old cousin speaks to me in almost fluent English because I have a hard time using my Spanish. I have always found it impressive how well my younger cousins know English, as well as French, and their native language Spanish. If this trend continues is there a foreseeable future where the US stops teaching languages as a whole in k-12 education? Will this myth of the “melting pot” of America still be a concept in 10 years? 20 years? Or will we have strayed too far from globalization towards exceptionalism?

  3. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    What stood out to me most in podcast 12 was how our government made so many laws that prohibited immigration, and how a lot of views on immigrants still exist today. For examples, Americans view immigrants as criminals and job stealers. This view is wrong as statistically, natural born Americans have a higher crime rate than immigrants and a lot of immigrants come to America as entrepreneurs. If this is all true, why do we still view immigrants in this light? Do you think Americans will ever look in the mirror and fault themselves instead of just blaming others, or in this case, immigrants?

  4. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    Something I found interesting about this podcast was how immigration laws and major problems from immigration seem to be a lot worse now than they were so long ago. With everything we have learned, for the most part, we have improved. We’ve created a more equal nation, even with all of its problems, it’s still better than a hundred years ago, except for what it seems like, immigration. As the podcast mentions, we wanted to expand our borders and our influence, and we wanted more people to come, to establish ourselves and create stability, but all of a sudden we stopped. Do these restrictions come from the idea that we no longer feel the need to secure ourselves and establish our power? Why is it so much harder for Americans to assimilate to other cultures? Because of our size and proximity to other countries compared to Europe, which may stop us from interacting with many other cultures? Or is it because of these established rules that tell us that outsiders should not be a part of our community, so we shouldn’t try to be a part of theirs?

  5. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I found Dr. Bezio’s podcast on immigration in American and world history, or lack there of, to be very interesting. Specifically, I found it interesting that the Chinese were included in immigration, excluded, included, and then excluded again. First it started were Chinese women were not allowed to immigrate to the United States. Later on, the Chinese Exclusion Act excluded all Chinese people from immigrating to the United States. At the start of the Industrial Revolution, American businesses and factories needed workers to perform labor as well as do other tasks like lay track for trains headed to the Western seaboard. My question is, why is it that humans in general remain isolationist unless then need support from an outside source to make economic progress or profit? The Americans in history are seen limiting immigration, then opening up again to get and influx of people to use to make American businesses prosper. People are always being used for someone’s economic gain.

  6. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    How much does the anti-immigrant referenced in the podcast fluctuate based on current events? For example, was anti-Muslim sentiment lower before 9/11? What about Anti-Asian rhetoric before the Vietnam War? Was there ever a time in recent history when we encouraged immigration from a certain sector of the world largely because of a historical event? (maybe immigrants from West Germany)?

  7. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    In podcast 12 we hear about the long-standing history the United States has in placing legal restrictions on immigration, often restricting what regions immigrants can come from, how many can come, and what requirements they need to meet if they do try to immigrate. Hearing these laws, I became curious to know if other countries have had similar histories with immigration restrictions. Are there any countries that have these similar anti-immigrant rhetorics? Is it a common theme for natural-born citizens in any country to fear immigrants taking their jobs, cause more crime, etc. just to remove the blame off them for their country’s struggle?

  8. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    Podcast 12 talked a lot about how the United States has developed its immigration policy and how racial biased have played certain roles in influencing these laws. I was particularly interested in learning how other countries handle immigration. I know it is a very broad question, and all countries are very different from each other, but where does the United States truly fall in terms of openness to immigrants, and what kinds of policies do most other countries have that differ from the United States?

  9. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    In Podcast 12 Dr. Bezio discussed the history of immigration in America. One thing that struck out to me was the divide within Urban Immigration. In big cities people were separated by race, religion, social class, and country of origin. Growing up just outside of New York City I find it very surprising that I can still notice these divisions today. Why have these divisions held for so many years? Why do assumptions about immigration/immigrants that began during the industrial revolution still exist today? Is America moving backwards in terms of immigration policies and attitude towards immigration/immigrants? Why?

  10. William Clifton William Clifton

    In Podcast 12 Dr. Bezio breaks down the reality of urban immigration in America. I remember earlier in the year Bezio talked in depth about how human nature naturally sees race and new culture as unfamiliar. I am paraphrasing, but I believe that it is due to that unfamiliarity, that we tend to set up mental and social barriers and build preconceptions about why these physical differences are inherently bad. That is essentially the root of American racism and it is the root of why immigration in America proved to be fruitless for many different groups of people. Within urban immigration, there were systematic changes made to extend the depths of racial, cultural, and social divide. In my opinion, a large portion of American racism can be credited to the ways in which American governments segregated new cultures and races as they immigrated into major cities. It was through this initial impression of racism (aside from slavery) that built the foundation for a tolerantly racist country. Why does it appear that our natural tendency was always to condone racism?

  11. William Coben William Coben

    After listening to podcast 12 that explores immigration and the melting pot theory, I was drawn towards the question of what other countries (specifically first-world European countries) do with immigration policy. The American government takes an unnecessarily large amount of hate despite the fact that we as a country accept more immigrants annually than any other nation in the world. I am curious to know what other countries do because the backlash is often unwarranted in my opinion.

  12. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    I found it interesting that questions asked on a citizenship test are so specific and to me, seem to be so unnecessary. This made me wonder where the idea that testing people on their knowledge of the US was a good indication of an immigrant’s ability to contribute to society. Was this just a tactic that has been used in the past to prevent immigration and has continued on to the present day? I think that what other countries such as Canada do to ensure that you will contribute to society in some way is better than administering a test based on facts. Not knowing the president during the time of World War I doesn’t correlate to being a burden on society. In a way, this makes me think of literacy tests that were made to be unimaginably difficult just so that the government could prevent black people from voting . For these reasons, I’m curious about the history of citizenship tests and if their original intent was oppressing immigrants or preventing them from entering the country.

  13. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    Podcast 12 and the readings for next class were very upsetting to me, especially coming from an immigrant family. I also found it upsetting to see the long-term geographical effects of the legal racism against white immigrants that are very similar to the history of redlined districts and the racism against African Americans. This racism made me question what other communities the government and other dominant groups isolated geographically and why were these specific groups chosen? It can’t just be a matter of skin color because the people in power in the past had the same skin color as the Irish or Italian immigrants. What are the deciding factors for people in power to geographically isolate a certain social group? What are the criteria? Further, what makes the people in power feel so superior that they can isolate and control whatever demographic group they please with blatant hypocrisy and no sound or consistent reasoning?

  14. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    To become a U.S. Citizen a test is needed. This test is hard to pass even as a US Citizen. Is there a reason for the difficulty of becoming a citizen? The United States is the “Melting Pot” and “welcomes” all then why is the test very difficult? In a way it makes me think that the people who administer and create the test really only want “authentic” white Americans in this country.

  15. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    Today’s podcast talks a lot about the idea of “the melting pot” from Israel Zangwill’s play. While Dr. Bezio discusses the myth of this term, specifically due to the rampant bigotry and hate during the 19th and 20th centuries, my question is: how did people at the time feel about the term “melting pot”? Was the term used and celebrated to create a myth of American pluralism or was the widespread use of the term a creation of later time periods?

  16. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    What stood out to me the most was the idea that the United States is no longer interested in being a melting pot. One would think that, since the United States is on an upward trend of diversity in demographics, this would be the opposite. Why is this this the case then? Is it because we have become more used to this sense of everyone wanting to come to the US or be like the US?

  17. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    It was unbelievable jarring to learn the statistics presented about immigrant crime rates in the United States as it is extremely different from the narrative I have heard throughout most of my life. The misleading ideas of immigrants stealing jobs and committing more crimes has been the justification for discrimination against immigrants for over a hundred years in America. In the podcast we learned about a few instances where the government and the supreme court enacted laws that seemed to strip immigrants of their rights in a very discriminatory manner. I am thinking specifically of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 as well as Japanese Internment in the 1940s. Is America still unjustly withholding rights from people based on their immigration status, and have the systems of government been adjusted in anyway to prevent similar legislation to my examples from happening again?

  18. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    This episode talks about the melting pot theory which suggests that a combination of cultures creates advantages and strength together rather than destruction. This podcast also discusses how the United States views immigrants since the country’s existence and how it poses restrictions on them which lead to the idea of the superiority of citizens over immigrants. This idea as well as the legal restrictions of immigrants entering the country have created thoughts of fear, intolerance, and discrimination against immigrants based on their backgrounds. The biggest takeaway from this podcast is that all of these ideas are false and that actually immigrants benefit the economy and provide better opportunities for the citizens. My question is if the country and economy benefit from immigrants why does president Trump keep trying to ban immigration today, and has run a list of the attacks on the legal immigration system throughout his administration?

  19. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    In podcast 11 I was surprised by how much the industrial revolution intersected with immigration as these two topics are usually taught separately. I thought it was particularly disturbing that world-events had such a large impact on the already extremely difficult immigration system in the United States, and it makes me wonder what the impact COVID will have on immigration in the coming 10-20 years? Were there specific policies that led to the decrease in the percentage of elementary schools offering another language or does it have to do more with national trends about immigration (does it change with which party is in power)?

  20. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    When listening to the 12th podcast, I was curious about the future of immigration policies. The podcast focused on how old immigration laws were often influenced by race, and how even in today’s era, though it is easier to immigrate, these people still receive discriminatory behavior by others. I wonder if people will still be influenced by racial biases when creating immigration laws in the future?

  21. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    The podcast on immigration in America was very personal to me. I, like many of my classmates, have immigrant grandparents and grat-grandparents who dealt with the same prejudice we are learning about. My question is what has immigration looked like during the pandemic? Are there any people immigrating to the US, legally or illegally? Do people still want to come here despite the high COVID death toll?

  22. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    This podcast was very interesting, specifically the part of Israel Zangwill. I found it particularly interesting how from the outside looking in Zangwill could see how the US was failing on immigration policy, however as Americans we alway think of “the melting pot” as being inclusive to all. What I found most interesting however, was in the cultural divisions within a city. So I wonder how did the segregation of European Cultures within inner cities impact relational identification in the United States? And, how did diverse areas popup in US cities even though there are so many barriers to a diverse areas?

  23. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    What did the government believe to be the negative impacts of an influx of immigration, and is there any validity to them? The podcast outlines the positive impact of immigrants, and the podcast claims that immigrants have better crime rates than natural born citizens. During the early years of America wouldn’t it be good to increase population during a period of expansion? How has the view of the melting pot changed over time? In general, it seems like Europeans had it better than so many other countries, so Why would the melting pot be mostly white Europeans?

  24. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    Podcast episode 12 focused on the idea of a “melting pot” and immigration within the United States. I found it very interesting that Israel Zangwill originally coined the term”melting pot” out of frustration of the United States acceptance of immigrants. Therefore, my question is: who is to blame for the illusion that the United States is an entirely inclusive melting pot?

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