Bob Ehrlich's recent column claiming that multiculturalism destroys democracy takes a very Eurocentric view of America ("Multiculturalism is the enemy of democracy," June 2). It selectively glosses over some of the ugly things our nation has done on its way to becoming who we are today.
The idea that America was built on a foundation of economic and political freedom, regardless of class, economic status or education, is a pleasant fiction, but the reality was quite different.
When our country was founded, only white, land-owning males were allowed to vote. African-Americans were treated as property, women were second-class citizens and Native Americans were forcibly converted to Christianity — or, in many cases, slaughtered in the name of Christ and progress.
Many of the original 13 colonies had religious tests a man had to pass in order to hold public office. Early colonists, who originally came here seeking religious freedom, were quick to establish various forms of religious discrimination once the colonies were established.
America is a land with a checkered past, but our ability to learn from our mistakes and leverage the diversity of our population is the source of our strength. America is not all baseball and apple pie, however. Unfortunately, it is also discrimination, slavery and genocide.
Yet America's story is constantly evolving, and we should celebrate how far we have come from an imperfect past and strive to create and even better future.
We do not all need to eat the same foods, play the same sports or worship the same gods to live peacefully among one another. The only shared values we need are mutual respect for each others' rights and a desire for freedom.
Our differences can be celebrated without separating us. Our unity does not come from a shared culture, it comes from a shared belief that America, despite its imperfections, offers the greatest opportunity for people from all cultures.
Wally Pinkard III, Baltimore