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What does it mean...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
...to BE an American?

There are no right answers, and at present, I'm struggling with my own answer.

Is it blindly following whatever the govt. decides in "our" name? (We elected them after all, didn't we?)

Is it flag waving superiority/arrogance?

Is it one philosophy, one set of goals?

Or is it the ability (freedom?) to be as big an idiot as I can manage and still be able to thumb my nose and speak out against anyone/everyone?

The American Melting Pot never really melted. The original idea was one common culture that adapted influences of the various cultures. What I see in the pot looks more like random pools of oil floating on top of the water in the pot. We have Asian-Americans, African Americans, Latino-Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans...what about JUST AMERICANS?!

How does a "person of color", born in the U.S., get their own category on forms/applications and all I get to choose is "American"?

I respect that anyone would want to honor their ancestors' heritage; I'm proud of my Irish & German heritage.

Ah, well...if I don't stop now, I'll just keep typing and never throw this into the mix, so...here goes?
post #2 of 19
Pretty thought-provoking, Bill. I will have to provoke some thoughts and get back to you with a reply.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Deb, your perspective as an educator will be very interesting. I look forward to it.
post #4 of 19
I'm a child of very mixed parentage. Most of my friends are of mixed parentage. And the kids of those people with mixed heritage have super mixed heritage. Some have lived in a foreign country for years.
I myself am a british citizen, who has lived in malaysia for almost all my life... I don't consider myself Malaysian. I don't consider myself British. I'm like a citizen of nowhere... And so are many of my friends...

And none of us are who or what we are supposed to be...

Years from now, we'll all be so ethnically mixed up, no one will care. The differences between cultures will disappear slowly. And i think that's a good thing.

SO my point is that for our great grandchildren, words like American, British, Malaysian, are just words that denote a type of passport, or residency.

It doesn't matter. We are who we are.
what about JUST AMERICANS?!
What about just People?
post #5 of 19
I, too think we should all be just Americans. Calling oneself a whatever-American creates a division that should not be there. As long as that is going on, we will never achieve diversity. The only one I can understand is Native American. They are still getting the shortest end of the cultural stick.
post #6 of 19
I believe that a person should put their nation 1st - be it Canadian, American, etc. But, IMO it is OK to say I am a Canadian of whatever descent.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
KK2: The thing about "Native American" is that only the native part is true. I wasn't there so I don't have first hand proof, but I don't think the original inhabitants of this continent called themselves "American", just like they were called "Indians" because Columbus got lost and thought he was somewhere else..."American" to them was a label. Now, that's enough to start a whole other thread about (which I won't).

Regarding the *-American labels...who created any of them? IMO, the groups themselves. The more govt./society works at desegregation in the name of "equality", the more these groups perpetuate segregation by identifying themselves as such.
post #8 of 19
Originally posted by billchamb
Regarding the *-American labels...who created any of them? IMO, the groups themselves. The more govt./society works at desegregation in the name of "equality", the more these groups perpetuate segregation by identifying themselves as such.
To a point I agree with you, but at the same time it is our own government who has perpetuated it. At some point, someone figured out that if you are a *-American you get extra benefits. That someone owed you something because you are different. Through the generations, this feeling of entitlement because they are different has become more and more distinct to the point where they are starting to drop the -American all together. (I've been hearing more and more kids who were BORN here in the US saying that they *are* Mexican.)

~Just an *American* and very proud of it!
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Precisely, Heidi! Then you get the Supreme Court ruling in support of ethnic groups getting advantages in college admissions! Whatever happened to *earning* the privelege (NOT right) to attend?!?!
post #10 of 19
Well, Bill, a lot of the points you bring up are still leftovers from the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. It's a shame that MLK was assassinated, because I believe that cutting short his life helped to keep civil rights an issue that has never been satisfactorily resolved in our country.

I believe that all the Cultural-American labels are a direct response by others to assert their own anscestoral pride in the same way that African-Americans have learned to do.

Although the US is far from a problem-free pace to live, I am still a proud flag-waving American. The US affords ANYONE the opportunity to make something of his/her life if one chooses to do so.
post #11 of 19
It is a bit off-topic, but why do we have to be of a certain nationality in the first place?

I sometimes question the whole concept.
Why am I Dutch, only because I was born in the Netherlands and because my parents were Dutch?
Why does being Dutch prevent me from living anywhere I please?

It would probably be impractical to do away with all the rules and laws regarding immigration, but it is kinda silly if you really think about it.

Most Western, democratic, countries have laws to prevent people from getting into their country, others have laws to prevent their own citizens from leaving (even more bizar).

Enough with the rampbling, back on topic. Somewhat anyway.

I often read/hear "I am proud to be an American"
Why is that? Or maybe I should ask what exactly does the word "proud" mean in this context.
Me. I am only proud of things I have achieved myself. Like getting a diploma.
I am normally not proud of the things I was born with like being a woman or being Dutch.
When I still worked out, I was proud of the way I looked (not anymore )

Does "proud" have more meanings in the English language than just the obvious? I have tried the dictionary, but that didn't help much either.
post #12 of 19
i was born here in the U.S.A. and proud of it, thats what american means, i dont always agree with my govt. but i love my country, and the people that dont like it can go to where ever they want.
post #13 of 19
Do something to make it better then.Becaume a teacher.It really does no good to just b```` about it.
post #14 of 19
Originally posted by Tybalt
What was designed to be a nation of equality has deteriorated into a system that caters to the lowest common denominator; witness our ever-declining educational standards.
I beg to differ in the 'ever-declining' educational standards. The current trend in education is for major accountability. If you could see the standards that kids are expected to achieve in the states of Florida and Texas, which are in line with national standards, I would tend to disagree. For example, no mathematics curriculum that I took at the elementary level included what today's kids are subjected to. Were you taught algebraic concepts from grade one on? I certainly wasn't exposed until junior high.
post #15 of 19
There was a worldwide television broadcast about a month ago discussing what it meant to be American and what the rest of the world thought about America. It was very thought provoking and interesting especially when they interviewed the 'average person on the street'.

Here's the link to the Australian portion of the broadcast. It includes what expatriate Americans have to say about the USA.

What the World Thinks of America

It also looked at USA's role in world politics, not just into recent things such as Iraq, but more at the role the country plays, the role USA is expected to play by other nations and the role the current administrations wants USA to play and the current role citiznes want their nation to play. (I hope that isn't too confusing.)

It also looked at what it meant to be American by people in other nations, as well as the USA.
post #16 of 19
I have to agree with Seagull. Having lived half my life in Europe, after growing up in the U.S., I'm uncomfortable with the way many of my fellow Americans have turned national pride into a sort of religion. I imagine that the deliberate pressure put on immigrants to assimilate is at the root of this, but why then aren't Canadians and Australians such obnoxious flag wavers? Yes, I do find it obnoxious - it's as if you're telling the rest of the world that you're a better person. The U.S. has many things to be proud of (and others to be ashamed of), but so do other countries.
post #17 of 19
There are good and bad, in every country. The US IS the oldest democracy, in the world and you always have some trips and stumbles, when you try anything new. It's not perfect, but what other system has worked as well and as long?

This country has never turned weapons on its own people, to keep them IN and, other than fleeing criminals, no US citizen has risked his/her life to get OUT. In this country, you can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Republican, Democrat, Communist or Nazi, without fear of government reprisals, as long as you behave in a law-abiding manner.
post #18 of 19
I am currently reading The Savage Nation by Michael Savage. While I don't agree with some of his positions, he DOES sum up this country, nicely:

We're a diverse people with a shared freedom.
We represent a variety of nationalities but are one nation.
We have a range of skills but a shared opportunity to excel.
We have many voices but one tongue.
We live in individual states but ultimately in one united country.
post #19 of 19
There are good and bad, in every country.
I totally agree. And if you believe there is more good than bad in your country, then you are proud of your country. No question about it.
However, that still leaves me puzzled.
To me being proud of your country is not the same as being proud of yourself for having been born in that country.
As I tried to say before, I totally understand the first kind of proud but not the second kind.

What I love about the internet, but especially this site, is that it has people from everywhere. Different countries, different cultures, different believes etc.
So, when I read this thread I saw it as a chance to finally learn, what this "proud to be an American" is all about. Not from (biased) journalists in newspapers but from "real" people.
Not to ridicule or condemn it, far from, but to understand more about a sentiment that we don't really have in the Netherlands.
Chauvinism is "not done" here, except during a major sporting event, like football (soccer) or ice speed skating.
Then we all dress up in orange and paint our hair orange

The US IS the oldest democracy, in the world and you always have some trips and stumbles, when you try anything new. It's not perfect, but what other system has worked as well and as long?
Is it? I suppose it depends on when you start counting. If you define democracy as a system were all people (not just wealthy men) have the right to vote you may get a different picture.
In the USA women weren't allowed to vote until 1920. In the Netherlands it was 1919, so WE beat YOU by a year
Yipeeee, Puppy Power!!
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