This thought is actually a continuation of a similar thread in a different sub-forum that I have been giving some thought and, as is usual in those situations (Me actually thinking about something, that is!) it has led me down paths totally different than what I had expected.
Anyway, the original question was this: do you refer to yourself based on your race or ethnicity, your country of birth, where your ancestors came from, or some combination of the above? And if so, why?
In America-and in no other country that I am aware of-people tend to refer to themselves via their "heritage" more so than anything else. For instance, you have "African-Americans", "Mexican-Americans", "Italian-Americans", so forth and so on. Then, God forbid we should forget the "Native Americans"!
Come on, are you fucking kidding me? I know this guy, he is a 5th generation Mexican immigrant, can't speak a word of Mexican, parents can't speak Mexican, and has never been outside of Los Angeles County. He works in the computer industry and makes good money. Has a nice house, nice car, and his kids go to decent schools.
He gets straight butt-HURT if you don't refer to him as a Mexican-American. His father and his grandfather are both decorated American military veterans, yet he feels the need to dilute his citizen-ship for some reason. Some of the African-Americans are the same way. You live in the richest country in the world, yet you scream that you are oppressed. 90% of you can't even find Africa on the map, yet you pass the race card around like a bad case of the clap. It's over, so get over it.
My family, to my eternal shame, owned slaves. My family also freed them in 1862, deeded them half of the family homestead, and our families are buried side by side to this day in the family grounds in Kentucky. My point is this-we paid our bill. In blood and shame. Quit screaming for "reparations" because some ancestor of yours was dumb enough to get caught in inter-tribal warfare and got sold to some Europeans, who then dumped them here. We as a country screwed up. It took us awhile (and a lot of blood) to get it figured out, but we did it. We accept you as who you are, not what color your skin is. You are an American. Be proud of that.
My ancestors came here from Ireland in the early 1770's. Members of my family have fought in every conflict this country has ever had. We even fought against each other in 1864.
Because this is our home. We are Americans. Not Irish-Americans. We were born here. In America. We are the "Native Americans". American Indians, while just as "native" as we were, are also immigrants....just like we were. We have watered the Tree of Liberty faithfully and often. And we stand ready again. My oldest daughter (16) still at home told me the other day that she wanted to join the AMERICAN military when she was old enough. I asked her why she was interested, especially knowing what I went through (it was 12 years of ugly). It wasn't about a job or getting tuition for school....no, she said it was her responsibility as a citizen.
While this is about who you are vs. who you think you are, I know WHAT I am. I'm fucking proud of my kid! That's another thread, though.
That covers race, birth country, and ancestry, I guess. It still doesn't answer the real question, though. Why isn't being just "American" good enough? We are a proud country with a proud heritage. Yes, we make mistakes, but we learn from them and (what makes us different, I would like to think) don't repeat them. Certainly, there is oppression, but where isn't there? I would like to think that it is much less here than in other countries, but I know that is probably not true. Again, the difference here is that there are mechanisms in place by which you can have your day in court, your 15 minutes of fame, your time in the spotlight, if you feel "oppressed".
The Irish and the Chinese built our railroads and our cities while getting spit on by their "betters". The Northern, Central, and Southern Europeans tilled our land and gave us food, while getting spit on by their "betters". People from all over the world come here to get spit on by their "betters". But they keep coming. And coming! Why?
Is it who we are, or who they think we are?
Is it because here, with a little hard work, you can be the one doing the spitting, while in your country, you just got spat on?
If you have a dream, one man-one American-can change the world. it doesn't matter if you are black, a techno-geek, or a pirate/robber baron/captain of industry/philanthropist/skinny white guy with big ears. Americans with names like King, Jobs, or Gates. Heroes to many, for what they have done or are doing. Scoundrels to others, for the same reasons.
But Americans first. They are shining stars in a sky full of shining stars, and there are many, many others just like them.
Why isn't that enough anymore? Are you so embarrassed by this country that you have to hide your citizenship? "Oh, I'm not American, I'm Mexican-American" Or African American. Or whatever. You think that will keep the Taliban from capping your ass? Ain't no Afgani-Americans over there! Or maybe you still feel some sort of alliegience to a country that was so bad that your ancestors left and never went back to? Do you think it's just Gangsta to be something you aren't? Go to the wrong neighborhood and flash the wrong sign. It won't matter if you are Mexican, African, or what, you WILL get an American ass-whipping, get shot with an American gun firing American bullets, and if you are lucky, you might get to leave while still alive.
This is not, nor was it meant to be, a racist rant. If anyone is offended by my words, then I apologize. Not because of what I said, but because it was offensive and I didn't mean it to be. I truly do not understand why being "just" an American isn't enough.
We built on a concept-the idea of personal liberty and individual rights-and exported it to the world, which has changed the world forever. Some might argue the whole Magna Carta thing, but that was mostly for internal use. We export democracy and freedom.
We have sent men to the Moon and machines into the void of interstellar space. Done the same in the depths of the oceans. We have consistently either led or been among the leaders in every advance in science and technology, medicine, and almost every other field.
We saved the world. Twice. Saved parts of it even more.
What's wrong with that? We never asked you to pay the bill. We do it essentially for free, and then make it available for everyone. Obviously we want to get paid, we are, after all, capitalists, but what I mean is that we publish, we report, we make available, and we don't restrict access to information. As I say this, visions of Microsoft's source code are going through my head, but even proprietary information gets out there sooner or later. Hell, look what Anonymous just did to Symantec!
Think that would happen in Pyong Yang? Or Beijing? No, American is the magnet for tech theft, and there is a good reason for that.
So, why does everyone hate us? Why do our own citizens feel the need to dilute their citizenship? Is it because of who we are, or because of who you think we are?
I didn't go to your country and destroy your way of life. I don't use heroin, I don't care if you kill your own people or develop bigger bombs, and I can buy oil anywhere. If you don't want democracy, that's fine! As long as you sell me your shit and buy mine, I don't care that you put the money in Swiss banks rather than in hospitals and schools for your people. I don't care if you cling to a model of government that has collapsed time after time. I don't care if you call yourself the Right Royal General Sir His Majesty King Emperer The Pope XXXIII 1/2! Go ahead and close the Strait of Hormuz (or however you spell it) and cut off 18% of your total economy. Run your country based on a misinterpretation of one of the most holy books on the planet. I don't care. I don't have to, your own people will take care of those things eventually. However, I do think you should consider yourselves damn lucky that we don't abandon Israel, because we are the only thing that keeps them from owning you. I think you should consider yourselves damn lucky that we still, for some strange reason, actually care about what you think of us, otherwise, WE would own you.
Again, I digress. Why isn't being an American enough? Why do we have to come up with extra labels, as if it will somehow further describe us. What the fuck happened to the melting pot?
I know who I am. I am an American who is proud of his country and of his heritage. I hate this government and I expect to see the citizens resort to the force of arms to reclaim it before I die, but I love this country. I fought and bled for it for 12 years after swearing an oath to a scrap of paper that tells us all exactly who we are.
Free by choice and American by the Grace of God, as they say. Provided an illusion and misplaced in the time-space continuum is more like it. That's who I am. As far as who I think I am....well, I think I'm someone who has been ranting madly for way too long. Due in part to a change of meds (Ritalin is great! I've been sitting here for like 4 hours straight) and an odd way of seeing reality, but way too long.
So, I will close this with a disclaimer. The views expressed here are solely mine and in no way reflect anything other than my way of viewing my world. If I have offended anyone in any way....well, I apologize that you became offended. Get a hold of me, I'll give you my address, you can come over and we will smoke a bowl and talk about it. If that doesn't work, then I will gladly relinquish my title of Supreme Opinionator and give you the crown and the responsibility to ask these stupid questions.
Wow. I just proof read this and I am all OVER the map on this one! All I need is a short skirt, red, white and blue pompoms, and a brass band!****I never meant to imply (although I seem to have done a damn good job of it!)that America has somehow done all of this by herself or is some sort of world savior. We aren't. Our wins might be huge, but our loses are pretty damn spectacular as well. We have the entire free world (and everyone else too, because your best people are running away and coming here!) as partners and friends,and we are were we are because of the ideas and actions of others!**** Guess the meds were a little better than I thought! I was going to do some considerable editing, but then I thought "No, the original idea for this was how a simple man sees his world." If I edited it for political correctness, it wouldn't be real. So, like it or not, Posting Now!
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