The two contrasting stories are effective in the way that they depict the emotional struggle immigrants and/or expatriates go through.
Questions for Discussion and Writing
List of qualities:
It is evident that Bharati was
able to merge so well into America because she is openminded while Mira struggled because she was reserved and kept tied to India traditions.
Mukherjee spends much of the essay comparing herself to her sister, which also contains a larger comparison.
"Reflecting the gradual shift in the focus of American strategic concerns toward East Asia, a majority of the U.S. fleet, including two thirds of all carrier battle groups, should be concentrated in the Pacific. A new, permanent forward base should be established in Southeast Asia (p. 39).
However, there was concern on the part of Southern Democrats about the possible inclusion of agriculture as an "industry," because they did not want to provide any encouragement toward unionization on the part of what was at the time a completely subjugated, and overwhelmingly African American, workforce. In response, Wagner insisted that agriculture was excluded from the purview of the legislation (Farhang and Katznelson 2005, p. 12). There was also implicit agreement that any issues having to do with agriculture and its labor force came under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which was known to be safely in the hands of conservative Democrats. Thus, this potentially divisive issue did not cause any further problems within the Democratic Party during the legislative process. And note well that from his point forward in the story, the concerns of Southern Democrats become paramount. The accommodation of those concerns made the eventual passage of the National Labor Relations Act possible two years later.
There are slightly conflicting claims on the origins of section 7(a). The specific language seems to have been suggested by W. Jett Lauck, the only labor-oriented member of the Wagner group that had primarily responsibility for drafting the administration's legislative proposal. An economist who was an advisor to John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers, Lauck had served as the secretary for the National War Labor Board during World War I, so he was familiar with the tradition of accepting government involvement in collective bargaining in times of social upheaval (Vittoz 1987, p. 87). There is also some evidence that at least a handful of business executives and economists from the policy-planning network supported the idea, apparently because they believed unions could play a positive role in stabilizing such highly competitive and wage-cutting industries as coal mining and garment making (e.g., Gordon 1994 Chapter 3; Vittoz 1987, Chapters 2 and 3). However, as subsequent resistance to union involvement in the code authorities demonstrates, most of the corporate leaders who at first seemed willing to accept some degree of union involvement became highly opposed to unions. It is also clear that the most important labor leaders of the 1930s, Sidney Hillman of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers, and William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor, spoke directly with several of the people involved in drafting the bill.
Gerard Swope, the president of General Electric, and a friend of the New Deal, was named chairman of the BAC. Teagle was selected as chairman of its Industrial Relations Committee, which demonstrates the central role of the Rockefeller network in the corporate community once again. One of Teagle's first decisions was to appoint all the vice-presidents that were members of the Special Conference Committee to the Industrial Relations Committee, thereby making that private group into a governmental body. Rockefeller's personal employee, Edward Cowdrick, the aforementioned secretary of the Special Conference Committee, was made secretary of the new BAC committee. Reflecting the seamless overlap of the corporate community and government in the early New Deal, Cowdrick wrote as follows to an AT&T executive. The memo deserves to be quoted because it reveals one of the ways the corporate leaders explained their involvement in government advisory groups, as well as a decision to avoid any mention of the Special Conference Committee, even though the government advisory meetings were part of Special Conference Committee meetings. The members were told they would be there as individuals, not as representatives of their companies or as members of the Special Conference Committee:
Traveling from city to city via trains, government troops finally quelled the uprising after two weeks of effort. In the process, over 100 people had been killed and many more were imprisoned (Stowell 1999, for the most recent account). Based on the traditional, more tolerant responses to strikes, the extent of the violence came as a shock to both workers and employers. Up until that time, as just noted, strikes usually had been called in an effort to reduce the long working hours that increasingly had been imposed upon workers, and somewhat less often to protest sudden wage cuts. Americans generally had viewed strikes as a legitimate form of action because employees had an independent stature that reflected both their valued work skills and their belief in republican values (Lambert 2005). Courts had sometimes condemned strikes as conspiracies or restraints of trade, but fines were usually small and there were no imprisonments, and in any case the Massachusetts Supreme Court had rejected the conspiracy and restraint of trade charges in 1854 (Dubofsky and Dulles 2004, pp. 59-61). The only previous known deaths from strike activity -- two in number -- had occurred in New York City in 1850 when police shot into the crowd to break up a strike by tailors who were protesting wage cuts (Lambert 2005, p. 22).
When Bharati was living in Canada with her husband, when Canada started changing their immigration laws, and understands how her sister felt about America changing their immigration laws.
“Two Ways to Belong in America” is an essay written to show the perspective of living in America as two Indianness.
But after 1877 American labor relations were the most violent in the Western world with the exception of Russia (Mann 1993). It is one of those superficial paradoxes of history that the most democratic and the most despotic countries in the Western world would have the most violent labor clashes. The strongly held American belief in the right of business owners to have complete control over their property, along with business dominance of both political parties and a history of violence in dealing with Native Americans and slaves, not to mention the horrendous casualty rate in the Civil War, made the pitched labor battles seem as normal and expectable to most Americans as they were to Russians with their totally different history. Between 1877 and 1900, American presidents sent the U.S. Army into 11 strikes, governors mobilized the National Guard in somewhere between 118 and 160 labor disputes, and mayors called out the police on numerous occasions to maintain "public order" (Archer 2007, p. 120; Cooper 1980, pp. 13-16; Lambert 2005, p. 44).
READ “Two Ways to Belong to America” by Bharati Mukherjee from Models for Writers (also reproduced on our Moodle site under READINGS). She presents the opposing views of how she and her sister as immigrants relate to this country.
As part of this confrontational but narrowly focused approach, the AFL tried to avoid involvement in broad-based political organizations, especially at the national level. They feared that political activity might divide their unions in a context in which the nation's electoral rules and the history of the two dominant political parties made it highly unlikely that workers could form their own political party. Believing that the political activism of the Knights of Labor, and especially the frequent disagreements between craft unions and various groups of socialists within the organization, had contributed to its downfall, the AFL kept anarchists and Marxists at a distance, and treated any claims they made with suspicion (Shefter 1994, p. 156). But as the union leaders expected, the employers nonetheless continued to resist the union pay scales, elaborate work rules, and apprenticeship limits that skilled craft workers wanted to retain in the workplace. This is important to underline for those new to thinking about rough and tumble power struggles, because it shows that employers' primary concern was full control of the workplace and the greatest possible profits, not fear of socialist ideas. In addition, the employers increasingly sought to speed up the labor process with new forms of work organization (e.g., Zieger and Gall 2002, pp. 27-28). They also employed growing numbers of unskilled immigrant laborers at lower wages in order to take advantage of the new machines and other technologies that were becoming available.
"The ability to have access to, operate in, and dominate the aerospace environment has become the key to military success in modern, high-technology warfare. Indeed, as will be discussed below, space dominance may become so essential to the preservation of American military preeminence that it may require a separate service. How well the Air Force rises to the many challenges it faces – even should it receive increased budgets – will go far toward determining whether U.S. military forces retain the combat edge they now enjoy" (pp. 38-39).