Diversity and assimilation are compatible, but that didn’t help Rep. Steve King whose recent comments caused quite a stir. In his typically indelicate manner, King supported assimilation as being the real strength in America, not diversity as is prominently proclaimed - and he’s been chastised for it. But he wasn’t rejecting the reality of diversity, nor its value.

Our familiar motto, E Pluribus Unum, “out of many one,” expresses the importance of assimilation in America’s tradition of forging a culture from millions of immigrants representing many cultures.

Assimilation is a process whereby immigrants encounter and react to a new set of experiences and challenges. These newcomers must make adjustments necessary to thrive in their new situation. Isolating themselves economically and socially are impediments to successful assimilation. This tendency toward separateness, a result of our current version of multiculturalism, too often reinforces mistrust, and it’s tearing the country apart.

Bottom line, the most indispensable requirements of assimilation are that immigrants understand our institutions, embrace our Constitution, comply with our laws, and start learning our language. Those are reasonable minimum expectations.

Let’s get back to the accusations against those supporting assimilation as uniquely important to America’s strength. Those who are strong supporters of assimilation are often labeled “white nationalists” or racist. That accusation is made because racists vocally reject diversity and its value. But doesn’t that rejection make it impossible to support assimilation?

Accepting diversity, and the importance of bringing groups together, is central to the philosophy of assimilation. A racist would be unable to advocate for assimilation, because to do so would require accepting, even embracing diversity and the process of different racial groups associating and “assimilating.”

If someone argues for the significant value and essential importance of assimilation, that person is doing a pretty bad job of being a racist.

Steve Bakke, Fort Myers, Florida