Monday, July 13, 2015

Are We Americans or Hyphenates?

We certainly do seem to be being bombarded with protected classes and victimized groups these days and while I could give you a long list of them, why bother.  You already know who is trying to be treated separately; you know who is portraying themselves as having suffered abuses in the past for which they are owed some kind of reparations -- even though the actual victims are long gone and the proposed provider of the reparations did not commit the offense.

But at the same time, the left preaches "inclusion", and decries "discrimination."

Those poor illegal immigrants coming over the border are "dreamers" (I'm wondering what the illegal who murdered Kate Steinle was "dreaming", but I digress).

Heterosexuals can't be the only ones getting married; we have to extend what is as much a religious construct as a civic one to homosexuals as well.  That is even when it violates the religious nature of that construct, in the religions practiced by a majority of the residents of Earth.

Bruce Jenner will receive the Arthur Ashe award for "courage" in his new attire as "Caitlyn" and, whatever my tolerance level for what he's doing (which is actually pretty high; I truly understand that he has had a very tormented lifetime with his struggles), we're told by the media that we have to accept this.  So much must we accept this, that we already have TV reality shows featuring kids figuring out if they're boys or girls.  I kid you not.

Baltimore and Chicago are having unprecedented rates of murder in their black communities that is apparently being written off and ignored by the media.  We can only assume that the lack of interest by the media is because the murderers and their victims are black, and therefore have -- what, a right? -- to kill each other in the privacy of their own neighborhoods.

They are either different from other Americans or they are not.  They are Americans, or else they are gay Americans, or Italian Americans, or black Americans, or Hispanic Americans or Martian Americans -- but not both.  We are either a melting pot, or we're a stew with lots of ingredients each prominently there, sort of like a good paella.

So here's my point.  Being American is a good and honorable thing.  It is a thing to be appreciative of (I'm not as much inclined to say "proud of", because I was born here and happy about it, but I had no choice in that).  It is the nature of the USA that we are many peoples.

But it is also the nature of the USA that being an American supersedes our ancestry, our gender, our religion, our national origin.  You have to set a lot of that a bit behind you to be an American, because being in America means that we're all able to assimilate; we can practice our own ancestors' culture a bit, but being American means that it is less important - else we can return to our ancestors' land (and likely be very constrained in what we can or cannot practice culturally).

Our candidates for the presidency want to be "uniters, not dividers", as we hear all the time.  Well, we're really unlikely to come to massive agreement on the path forward as far as "uniting" is concerned; we've been mightily polarized by this administration's selective view of the applicability of law.  But we can be more united by shedding some of our knee-jerk allegiance to our distinctive background or gender or ancestry or anything else that the guy over in the next house doesn't share.

Do you remember the last time we were really, really united as a country?  That would be after 9-11, and that was when we faced, as a country, a common enemy in Islamic terrorism.  Is it possible that we can take a deep breath, and try to be "Americans" a bit more, and "ethnic whatevers" a bit less, without having to have airplanes fly into our buildings to get us to do so?

I know I could really feel a lot better about the joy in being American, if I didn't qualify my encounters with other people by thinking "Well, he is Hispanic, so I need to be careful not to talk about borders, or how much I like/dislike tacos, or mention that Ariana Grande actually is not Hispanic, or ..." or "She has her hair cut like a lesbian, so I should mention the WNBA and the women's World Cup team" or, well, you get the idea.

We need to be more like those places (Finland)? where everyone is pretty much the same, and just stop looking for what group -- particularly aggrieved group -- we are in.  The USA is a better country when our commonality is as Americans but our only distinction is our individuality -- when we stop trying to identify with this aggrieved group or that one.

I live in a neighborhood of really pleasant people.  The neighbors on one side are Korean, the other side Italian.  Opposite us is another Korean family, and next to them on either side are a Sikh family and a black family.  When I'm asked about my neighborhood, though, the first thing I say is that everyone is really nice to each other, they snowplow for the neighbors and would lend sugar if people did that anymore.  Ethnic origin only comes up if someone asks; we're not a hyphenated community.

What distinguishes us needs to be our accomplishments as individuals, and not what has happened to our "group", for which the government obviously owes us some kind of compensation.

I'm an American.  No hyphens need apply.  

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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