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Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire: Multiculturalism in the World's Past and America's Future


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Author Jens Heycke makes a fairly precise argument about what works and what doesn’t work in a multicultural system of government.

Reading Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire is an edifying experience. I gained a new understanding of various historical conflicts, from the Rwandan Genocide to the conflicts in the Balkans. This book shows how those examples of multiculturalism gone wrong are relevant for us today.

Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire isn’t necessarily a denunciation of multiculturalism. It isn’t a scathing indictment of the changing demographics of the US, like Samuel Huntington’s Who are We? Rather, author Jens Heycke makes a fairly precise argument about what works and what doesn’t work in a multicultural system of government.  

There are two kinds of multiculturalisms: “hard” and “soft.” The former involves divisive government policies such as racial preferences and set-asides based on ethnic group membership. The latter encourages assimilation.  Out of the Melting Pot takes a dive into historical examples of multiculturalism done right and multiculturalism done wrong according to this general criteria. Each historical example focuses on a different culture and encompasses a concise chapter.  

Heycke provides voluminous historical detail in which multiculturalism has been tried. Some societies, such as Ancient Rome, did multiculturalism well. Others, such as Rwanda, the Ottoman Empire, and Yugoslavia, didn’t do so well, to make an understatement. There are heavy implications for the United States, touched upon in the conclusion. Ultimately, the lesson of Out of the Melting Pot is not necessarily to avoid multiculturalism, but rather to avoid pitting groups against each other with affirmative action, racial preferences, and other preferential treatment.  

It used to be taken as axiomatic that America was a melting pot. In fact, it was presented as a wonderful thing. At least this made sense and used to be self-evident in terms of our national identity. But it’s been a decade or two since this notion has become taboo.

How subtly, it seemed, the concept of assimilation became unacceptable, just as the political winds shifted from the ‘90s to our current minefield of political correctness with regards to our conception of who we are as a nation. Heycke explains how this change occurred, and how the melting pot became a “microaggression.” From there, we switched to multicultural mode.  

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My writing has appeared in The Washington Times, Real Clear Politics, Education Week, The Daily Caller, The Federalist and The Washington Examiner. My blog www.michaelmacherablog.com (book reviews and opinion). Follow me on Twitter @mistersir__.


About the author

I was educated in Economics and Near Eastern Studies at UChicago, the London School of Economics, and Princeton. I worked as an executive in high-tech startups, retiring to write and research. I am an internationally competitive masters cyclist, winning a bronze medal at the World Masters Games. view profile

Published on April 11, 2023

Published by Encounter Books

60000 words

Genre: Political Science & Current Affairs

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