As we head into this July 4th weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of our country, and the state of our populace. These last couple weeks (and let’s face it, years!) we have seen and heard much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and some spectacular twisting of logic by both our so-called representatives and media pundits. America these days is in a sad state of affairs.
The America I was born into was still widely considered to be a “melting pot”, which to my adolescent mind meant just that – the people of the world were all mixed together-melted into a big pot of America, to become American.
To me, American people didn’t have a color or a religion. They had ALL the colors and religions, and that was all good. One nation under God, INDIVISIBLE.
I can vividly remember the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976, yes there were certainly problems in our country (the Nixon/Ford years) but as Americans, we all came together to celebrate the duration – against all odds, I might add – of our country for 200 years! It is hard to describe the general feeling of the time; it is so completely foreign to how people operate in America now, it would come off almost as a fairy tale. But yes, there was UNITY. We were celebrating America and proud to be American. I’ve haven’t seen or felt any such unity as Americans since then.
Growing up there were of course cases of ethnic pride. You’d see bumper stickers, t-shirts and ball caps with things like “Proud to be Italian” or “Kiss me, I’m Irish”… little things that pointed to something that made the wearer of said things stand out, or to just show pride for their ancestors and in their ancestry. But above all, we were all AMERICANS. If you asked Eddy Spaghetti (a made up, fictional name to make a point) “what are you?”, you would get something along the lines of, “American, but my family came over from Genoa 3 generations back”, or some variation of that theme. Most people seemed proud of their roots, but they identified as Americans of “x” ancestry.
It wasn’t long after that “political correctness” and the dreaded hyphen began to rend the fabric of America. We’re now 3, maybe 3 1/2 decades into what I’d consider the American Identity Crisis.(c)
I’ll be honest and say I don’t understand the ubiquitous “Hyphen-American”. In the mid to late 1980’s, when we as a nation were first admonished to refer to all black folks as “African-American”, I thought, “well, that’s dumb…” What about black folks from the U.K.? What about black folks from the Caribbean? From Brazil? But what really started rubbing me the wrong way, was when everyone under the sun jumped on the bandwagon. Before you know it, we were cajoled into using only Mexican-American, and then Asian-American to add to the mix. But that wasn’t “good enough”, they cried, it isn’t DEVISIVE ENOUGH!! Evidently referring to someone as Asian-American is offensive, so they need to be sub-divided into Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Filipino/Indonesian-American categories… And then there are all the rivalries amongst the Central and South American folks, that don’t want to be lumped in with the “Mexican-American” moniker, and whatever you do, don’t refer to them as Latinx! Or maybe ONLY refer to them with that term? It changes so often, it’s hard to keep track of all the infighting. And to what end?
I’ve been watching all this for decades now, and I swear it gets stupider every time you turn around. The exact same thing that happened with “African-American” happened with LGB, which morphed into LBGTQ and now I believe contains nearly the entire alphabet, and some punctuation marks added for good measure. Every little obscure niche demands to be included in every stupid club. Again I ask, to what end?
I don’t mean to be offensive, I really don’t. I’m sure if anyone is reading this, then someone is offended. It seems virtually impossible to utter more than a single syllable these days without offending somebody, somewhere. But I’m not sorry for saying it. The media and government have been pushing division for a long time now, and rather than reject it, most people not only embraced it, they started throwing fuel on the fire, until we find ourselves in the place we are now as a nation. And what have ANY of these “marginalized” groups gained from this, aside from the animosity of every other group? Zilch. Zero. Nothing.
Honestly the entire thing just seems silly to me. If you are American, why do you need to use the little extra descriptive words? Especially if you were BORN here. If you consider yourself whatever it is they call folks from where your ancestors came from, then own it and just drop the American part. “American” isn’t a race, a color, a religion. America is a belief in personal freedom. America is a place to shape your own future. America is the place where you can speak your mind without fear of punishment. At least, it USED to be before basement dwelling SJWs, their Karen parents and social media came along… But I digress.
America only provides an OPPORTUNITY to WORK for whatever in the world makes you happy. America doesn’t owe you, me or anybody ANYTHING.
Our government, for the last few decades, has been decidedly un-American in its pursuit to divide the populace and we’ve been falling for it, hook, line and sinker. We can be better as the HUMAN RACE, without being crammed into a bunch of little separate boxes. The thing is, while each and every one of us is unique as an individual, you aren’t “special”, because of what you “identify” as. Likewise, if you ACCOMPLISH something that does indeed make you a standout, someone actually “special”, your race/ethnicity is completely, utterly irrelevant. Should someone discover say, a cure for cancer, does that discovery become more important because the scientist was blue, green, or purple? Of course not, the discovery is the important thing, the person that discovered it IS special to all of mankind, but the race/gender/orientation is irrelevant TO the discovery.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure everyone has their “something” that sets them apart, that makes them feel special…but in the big scheme of things? Not so much. We all have more in common than not. We all need air to breathe. We all need food and water. We all feel discomfort when too hot or too cold, we all get sick from time to time. We all are looking for security in our person and home. We all laugh, we all get angry… We all want our kids to succeed and have a strong future. We all want a better, cleaner world. I could keep going but I think I’ve made my point. There isn’t one single thing listed above that has anything to do with ethnicity, religion, orientation or any other “marker” you want to try on.
Maybe it’s because I’ve always considered myself a mutt, with a varied assortment of ancestry, that I don’t ascribe to identity politics. But the bottom line is, I was born in this country, my folks and their folks were born in this country, and I am an American, full stop. Not a Dutch-American, not a French-American, not a German-American, nor any of the other crumbs I’ve got swimming around in the ol’ DNA. And really, what difference does it make anyway? Other than (maybe) to persons in your same “group”, I’m pretty confident that NOBODY cares what you “identify” as. Unless they are USING YOU as a tool for their own purposes, that is. Don’t be a sucker. Be American, think for yourself, forge your own path, and make your own decisions. If you’re feeling so insecure in yourself that you feel compelled to align yourself with one of these identity politics groups, STOP. Take a breath. Then focus on things you can do to build YOUR self-esteem. That’s what you’re looking for after all, a way to feel better about yourself and your place in this crazy world, right?!?
Take a minute over the holiday weekend to reflect on what WE are celebrating. We are celebrating INDEPENDENCE DAY. The 4th of July is but a date, the reason for the celebration is INDEPENDENCE. We’ve forgotten that thanks to the “marketing” over the last few decades. Independence Day isn’t ABOUT BBQ, beer and fireworks. It’s about standing up against tyranny, it’s about bravery, it’s about self determination.
Labels are for products. You are not a product.
Identity politics are for imbeciles.
Do yourself a favor, ditch the hyphen!
Thanks for reading!