I was contemplating an Independence Day post, but… Driving lessons to give, burnt offerings to make on the barbeque (yes, this is MY high holy day), and the usual miscellany of other time and energy eaters.
Fortunately for me, Sarah Hoyt has already written the ideal article about what it means to be American — and, of course, it is much better than anything that I could possibly offer.
This was her post yesterday, over on PJ Media: Becoming American. Go. Read. Enjoy.
I do have a few comments to add (those who know me are not surprised).
The salient point to to be made here is that Sarah chose to be an American. Many people make that choice — including a great many that still need a passport and visa to set foot in this country. The nation that was created by the document that opened with “In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776,” and wound things up with “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” is not a thing that is defined by genetic relationship or by a map in Funk and Wagnalls World Atlas — it is an idea. An infectious idea, a veritable plague upon a world filled then, as now, with those who would control their neighbors with the shibboleths of “proper breeding,” or “proper birthplace,” or (for the most murderously minded of them) the “inevitability of history.”
This country is rather unique in this one respect — the majority of our neighbors chose to be here, either by conscious decision, or by the conscious decision of their ancestors. They chose to be here because they chose to “hold these truths to be self-evident.”
Now, there are some who choose to be here — and choose to not be Americans. To not subscribe to the idea of “American.” I firmly believe that these are a minority, no matter how loud they are, or how much face time they are given by a lopsided media. (To be clear, this minority includes both people that landed yesterday at LAX or JFK — and those who can, like myself, trace their “American lineage” back to that first Fourth of July or even earlier. Idea, get it? Not blood. Not place.) They have chosen to not be Americans — but, unlike other nations, we have not made the choice to eject them by force, “reeducate” them, or simply bury them (although many of us do encourage them to voluntarily relocate to a place more suitable to their mind-sets). Why? Because that is part of the American idea. Stay here, by all means, if that is your choice. While here, you do have to follow our laws — if any of these laws is in conflict with your culture, whether that culture is a product of Iraq or of Hollywood, that you cannot suppress or surrender, then you should leave. Immediately. Because we Americans will not tolerate your following those particular cultural notions for very much longer. For those differences that are not legally prohibited? We won’t throw you out — but we will point and laugh. And do our very best to ensure that your ideas do not ever supplant the idea of “America.”
Latro finis. Oh, and molon labe, for good measure. I have made my choice — “Here I stand; I can do no other.”
Unfortunately necessary addendum: No, I am not discounting the heinous years of the slave trade, when all too many “immigrants” were not given a choice. However, I would note that, at least for a time, there was an option for liberated slaves to return to their “homeland” — not really anywhere close to where they or their ancestors came from, but at least not here — and with the opportunity to form their own government, in “perfect freedom.” Which actually did not turn out all that well; many of the descendants of the scant 15,000 or so who made that choice have had ample cause to regret it. Some only briefly.*
In point of fact, the only time period in which a significant number of people elected to leave the United States, the country of their birth, to “refugee out,” was right after the Civil War, when many found it… advisable to make themselves scarce. Not for political reasons, either — they did not fear prosecution as “war criminals,” but as just plain criminals. Even then, the majority simply relocated within the borders, but where their faces were not known and names were somewhat more flexible… (This made for a lot of very successful movies — and a lot of rather unhappy prior residents.)
* I just know that some idiot that is armed with only the indoctrination “history” taught these days will come along and demand “cites.” Well, here’s a couple of starting points for you — yep, they’re Wikipedia, but an honest inquirer will follow the citations that these articles give to more “respectable” sources. Warning — do not eat before reading in any depth about Charles Taylor and his Merry Men.