I’ve taken a lot of cabs in the East Coast. Hindus, Jews, Muslims. No one ever complained if I had a Big Mac in my hand, or asked if it had bacon, and the Muslim cabbies who picked me up outside of various bars surely knew I was carrying alcohol, if only in bloodstream form. Truth be told, my introduction to actual real-life Muslims came in the form of many cabbie colloquies. I’m sure the hard-core guys just kept their mouths clamped, but I remember a few inter-faith dialogues, and they all boiled down to the same things – respect, tolerance, everyone likes Jesus, peace, have a nice night, smiles all around.We've all had these conversations, particularly when carrying alcohol in bloodstream form. I assume that none of us confuse them with Interfaith Dialogues. They are much better than that.
It used to be that we could rely on money to be the universal solvent. People would come to America, many would live in ethnic ghettos where they would speak honestly with the like-minded and follow their quaint folk ways. But every day the men (usually) would have to travel into the majority world and conform enough to earn a living. Over time, with the help of the public schools and the media of the day, the ghetto culture would be subsumed in the majority culture, changing in large ways while changing the majority culture in small ways. The melting pot was a crucible, not a stew pot.
Now we have lost our willingness to enforce conformity with penury. We certainly will not get conformity. The question is whether we can avoid penury.