The Multicultural LiernThe European Roots of American Lifernby Scott P. RichertrnRockford, Illinois, the home of The Rockford Institute andrnChronicles, was established in a series of migratory ripples:rnfirst Yankees, then Scots, then Swedes. A later wave of immigrationrnbrought many Italians, both from Sicily and NorthernrnItaly. Today, German-Americans are the largest ethnic grouprnin Rockford, as they are in the United States as a whole. Thereforernit made perfect sense, when the Rockford public schoolrndistrict recently broke ground for a new “two-way language immersion”rnmagnet school, to choose Spanish as the second language.rnWhat is going on here? As readers of Chronicles know, thernRockford public school district has been the target of a prolongedrndesegregation siut which has destioyed neighborhoodrnschools, led to the busing of thousands of children, and costrnRockford taxpayers over $150 million so far, while minority testrnscores have plummeted and dropout rates have climbed. Butrnour Spanish-speaking magnet school cannot be blamed on arnmoney-grubbing Chicago lawyer and an arrogant federal magistrate.rnWhile the federal court ordered the construction of arnnew school, it did not specify a bilingual magnet. That decisionrnwas made by the professional educationists who “implement”rnRockford’s “desegregation remedies”—and destroy arncommunity in the process.rnUltimately, however, the source is the same. Today’s multiculturalrneducational agenda flows from the federal government,rnby way of the Department of Education. With the willingrncooperation of teachers’ unions and superintendents’rnassociations, the Department of Education continues to promulgaterna radical program designed to remake American educationrnto support the aims of the federal government.rnIt has happened before, although few today remember it.rnWhen I first moved to Rockford, I was pleasantiy surprised byrnwhat I assumed to be a charming display of local patriotism.rnTraveling across town from west to east, one crosses streetsrnnamed after the great cities of Europe and America; Chicago,rnScott P. Richert is the assistant editor of Chronicles.rnLondon, Paris, Rome . . . Rockford? While Rockford is the second-rnlargest city in Illinois, it is hardly on a par—cultural or economicrn—with Chicago, let alone the great capitals of Europe.rnWhen I mentioned this to Tom Fleming, he laughed and informedrnme that Rockford Avenue was originally Berlin Avenue.rnHaving grown up about 15 miles from Marne, Michigan,rnhome to the Berlin Raceway and the annual Berlin Fair, I understoodrnimmediately: Berlin Avenue, like hundreds of littlernBerlins and Munichs across the United States, had succumbedrnto the anti-German hysteria of World War I and World War II.rnIn Milwaukee, with an overwhelmingly German population,rnstreets and civic buildings were renamed to hide their Germanicrnprovenance, and domes were removed from Germanrnchurches because they looked too much like spiked helmets.rnDuring wartime, people and countries overreact, and somernof the anti-German fervor is understandable—although muchrnof it stemmed from a propaganda campaign by the federal government,rndesigned to rally American support for interventionrnin European affairs. But the real story is what occurred betweenrnthe wars, and not simply to German-Americans.rn”The American melting pot” is a favorite myth both of immigrationrnenthusiasts, who argue that anyone can become anrnAmerican as long as he holds certain beliefs, and of immigrationrnrestiictionists, who argue that assimilation is a long, hardrnprocess and that today’s unprecedented levels of immigrationrnimpede assimilation. But for most non-British immigrants, assimilationrnnever really occurred. Both the Northern Europeansrnwho arrived in the first half of the 19th century and thernCentral and Southern Europeans who arrived in the secondrnhalf (and into the 20th century) tended to settle with their ownrnkind. My father’s family, German Lutherans from Alsace-Lorraine,rnsettled in Southern Indiana in 1832, and over the nextrncentury educated their children in German at the parish schoolrnand perpetuated their German customs, tiaditions, and names.rnWhile they gradually learned English, they continued to worshiprnin German at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Churchrn(built on family land where most of my ancestors are buried).rn20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn