As much as America’s greatness has been based on its elastic nature; that nature that we are all-encompassing, compassionate people, has been the groundwork, the foundation of America.
And in case you forgot – everyone who walks the streets of every city, town and neighborhood in America was once an immigrant, or is directly related to someone who is, by any number of generations before them.
But as much as we profess this elastic, all-encompassing nature, it’s fraught with inconsistencies and hypocrisy. People considered by certain Americans to be “just not like us” or “the other”, whether they are of different ethnic origin or belief system or preference. The “others” are shunned, misunderstood, marginalized, reacted against and treated violently all over this country – because those who are intolerant view the “other” as potentially dangerous because of their difference.
In the 1950s, “the others” were Hutterites – a ethno-religious group, much like the Amish and Mennonites who settled in other parts of this country. The Hutterites settled in the upper midwest and in Canada and were primarily agricultural with their roots going back to the 16th century.
But because they looked different, had different values, wore different clothes and different methods of farming, they were largely shunned by people who lived in nearby communities and were often blamed for things going wrong.
This documentary, part of the weekly Hidden Revolution series for CBS radio in 1958, was narrated by the legendary Edward R. Murrow. He discusses the issues facing the Hutterite community and their relationships with non-Hutterites who live close-by. Although the Hutterites are far from radical – they do not espouse a belief system which would put them in league with say, The Westboro Baptist Church, they were still looked on by many as a group of outsiders, or “the other”.
Interesting, with possible comparisons to our current situation – the question of immigrants and the intolerance displayed many of those who could know better, but choose not to – to be reminded of the all-encompassing, elastic nature of our country and the society we have built on that nature.
Here is that episode of The Hidden Revolution: The Hutterites – from November 19, 1958.