The Melting Pot as a God-Term
The melting pot metaphor, which imagines the United States as a cultural and social force of assimilation, has maintained a stronghold in the ideologies surrounding immigration since the metaphor emerged at the turn of the twentieth century. However, it is important to realize that the melting pot metaphor frames immigration according to certain ideologies and identities, a rhetorical function that bears real consequences for immigrants in the United States. In this paper, I use Kenneth Burke’s theory of god-terms to position the melting pot metaphor as a god-term that disguises the challenges, issues, and discriminations many immigrants endure in the United States. After describing how three interpretations of the melting pot metaphor perpetuate alternative perspectives on immigration, I advocate that individuals question, examine, and seek out meaning from the melting pot metaphor each time it is written or spoken in order to gain a greater capacity for listening and understanding in contemporary immigration discourses.
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