Wednesday, May 9, 2007


People who refer to themselves as something-Americans really make me want to knock them upside the head.

Drag out your passport, if you have one. Check the front of it. If it says "United States of America", you're an American--period, full stop, end of story. It doesn't matter what your skin color, when your grandfather hopped off the boat at Ellis Island, what country he hailed from before he hopped on that boat, which language he spoke before he came here, or even if he came here from somewhere else at all. You are an American. No hyphens, no qualifications, no prefix, no nothing.

You're not an Italian just because your great-grandfather was born in Genoa, and because you know how to cook gnocchi. You're not Irish because your name starts with Mac or O', or because you like to swill Guinness or wear a shamrock in your lapel. Be proud of your family history all you want, honor your ancestors, cook spaghetti or haggis or sauerkraut at home, but for all that's good and proper, don't call yourself anything but American.

There's plenty of balkanization out in the world, especially since the end of the Cold War. Every village in the former Soviet Union or Yugoslavia wants to have statehood now, and all that it does is create a multitude of warring little tribes, jealously guarding their little patches of ground against encroachment by "the others", whether those others are defined by clothing, language, face paint, diet, hygiene habits, or whatever name they choose to call their deity.

We don't need that kind of petty shit in America. It's divisive and destructive, and it does nothing but perpetuate neolithic tribal warfare. Here in the United States, most good and decent folks don't give a hoot whether their neighbor is black, white, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or Great Pumpkin worshiper, as long as he minds his own business and keeps his hands to himself. America is not a funny outfit, or a chant, or a collective of ancestors. America isn't a religion, or a skin color, or a language, or a way of cooking, and anyone who claims such a thing deserves a swift kick in the ass and a ticket to whatever homogeneous country best suits their personal desires for uniformity of pigmentation or religion or diet or what-the-fuck-ever.

Speak English, speak Spanish, speak Farsi, drink green beer, play a bagpipe, wear a beret, smoke filterless Gaulois, ride your Harley with a pickelhaube, or build a Shinto shrine in your backyard if you want, but don't call yourself anything but American.

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