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What is an "American"?(28 posts)

What is an "American"?DougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 9:32 AM
Got this from an e-mail message:

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American. So an Australian dentist wrote the following to let everyone know what an American is, so they would know when they found one:

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Chamorro, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan. An American may also be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God-given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When the Soviet army overran Afghanistan 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

Americans welcome the best: The best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes. But they also welcome the least. The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These, in fact, are the people who built America. Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001, earning a better life for their families. I've been told that the World trade Center victims were from at least 30 other countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.
Nice story - except it isn't trueMe Dot Org
Mar 17, 2003 10:14 AM
The article was not written by an Australian Dentist, but by an American Law Professor for the National Review in September of 2001:
amazing how these things get passed on; thanks nmDougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 10:29 AM
You're welcomeMe Dot Org
Mar 17, 2003 11:36 AM
It is amazing how these stories become real. I knew someone who SWORE he knew someone that had experienced an urban myth. He swore up to the time it was revealed as a hoax.

When my stepsister got an AOL account (I think these should be issued with a learner's permit), she started bombarding me with warnings about virus hoaxes (WARNING! it will delete your hard drive, change the expiration date on your milk carton, etc, etc,)

Since then I've become skeptical of any unattributed article that is passed on in email. Some good sites to know about:

For virus hoaxes:
Spare us your classist condescension.czardonic
Mar 17, 2003 10:30 AM
Reffering to the poor and desperate as "the least" is pretty low.
better than "wretched refuse", isn't it? :-) nmDougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 10:42 AM
True. But <i>that</i>, we can blame on the French. (nm)czardonic
Mar 17, 2003 11:02 AM
LOL. You DO have a sense of humor (nm)DougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 11:15 AM
"The New Collosus" was written by an American (nm)Alexx
Mar 18, 2003 5:44 AM
So it was. Emma Lazarus. I stand corrected. (nm)czardonic
Mar 18, 2003 11:40 AM
Spare us your classist condescension.purplepaul
Mar 17, 2003 10:52 AM
Yes, I'm sure the poor and desperate care more about their nomenclature than having a better chance of improving their lot in America.

How is a description of a fact condescending? Or maybe we should pretend they're rich and prosperous. Except then you'd hate them.
Sorry if my facetious remark was lost on you. (nm)czardonic
Mar 17, 2003 10:56 AM
I thought we were loud-mouthed beer swilling yahoosrollo tommassi
Mar 17, 2003 11:12 AM
Yes we are all those things, but we also contradict everything we stand for in action and words.

Native Americans, "No Irish", Patriot Act, Rosewood Florida, gender equality, etc.
Mar 17, 2003 11:18 AM
We are the blundering, but generally good hearted, 12 year old biggest kid in the class at times.

We certainly aren't perfect.

I think we could stand some humility.czardonic
Mar 17, 2003 12:06 PM
It doesn't mean much to admit that you are not perfect if you bristle with defensiveness and hostility every time someone else makes that point.

Through all of this nonsense between us and the French, most non-American opinion I have read reiterates that the French (the world in general, really) thinks this is a great country, but also thinks that we have strayed of late from the high standards that they have come to hold us too, and that we ourselves profess. A great country could take that advice or leave it (without throwing a tantrum) and still be a great country.
remember that we are a lot of different peopleDougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 12:16 PM
There are 280 million people here. Many different groups of people have different feelings and perspectives on things. No doubt some WWII veterans will have a vastly different perspective than someone born in 1980.

The perspectives can be blown all our of whack by the media, too, who tend to portray some events or actions as "typical" or of the majority, when, in fact, they might be a very small minority.

So, does "the country" through a tantrum? Hard to say. It might be a thousand, maybe even several million people. But, is that "the country?"

I think the vast majority of the country's citizens are reasonable, moral, well-intentioned, freedom-loving people. Not sure who you can pick out or focus on to judge the country as a whole.

Fine, but when our House of Representatives. .czardonic
Mar 17, 2003 12:44 PM
. . .which you have to agree could easily be mistaken for a representative body throws a tantrum (Freedom Fries), the rest of us look bad, or at least, very immature.
Fine, but when our House of Representatives. .purplepaul
Mar 17, 2003 1:00 PM
Sure, but that's an awfully feeble example for such serious consequences.

Come on, almost all of those opposed to us are simply uncomfortable with our overwhelming power. There's nothing wrong with that. We could deal with that. Just drop the argument that Americans are inherently inferior to everybody else.
Well said! nmrollo tommassi
Mar 17, 2003 1:26 PM
Americans are the SUV drivers in the global village.RoyGBiv
Mar 17, 2003 1:33 PM
Oops. Didn't mean to offend anyone's sensibilities. But you have to admit ,you do throw your weight around a lot. And it seems to piss a lot of people off.
And the French etc. are the cyclists in <i>OUR</i> way. (nm)czardonic
Mar 17, 2003 1:44 PM
more like the Citroen 2CV (nm)DougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 1:53 PM
Funnny you should mention them. . .czardonic
Mar 17, 2003 2:13 PM
. . . I happened to see a segment on TV about this guy who modifies those things. One of his mods was a raised, big tire "monster-truck" version.
yes, butDougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 1:51 PM
(to continue the analogy) But when you need that big old SUV to haul 15 people and all their gear across the desert, you are damn glad to have it. I guess what the world wants is to keep the SUV in the garage until the people hauling need comes around.

I can't get over the irony ...RoyGBiv
Mar 17, 2003 2:08 PM
That for the past several months, since the strike in Venezuela cut your crude supply, Americans have been buying more oil from Iraq. Think of it: Your warships quite likely have been fuelled up with aromatic hydrocarbons that originated in the country those ships will be bombing. Or, put another way, Iraq has taken the money you've paid its oil and quite possibly spent it on measures to defend itself from your bombs (along with, of course, helping in the upkeep of Saddam's 12 palaces).
What a world. What a world.
it's fungibleDougSloan
Mar 17, 2003 2:12 PM
Assuming it's true, I don't suppose it matters where it comes from; besides, the country, and its assets, will be ours soon.


(Disclaimer: this post 50% facetious)
I can't get over the irony ...purplepaul
Mar 17, 2003 3:36 PM
Hey, just because I've been spouting off on how Europeans aren't acting in their own self interest just to spite us doesn't mean that we can't be pretty dimwitted ourselves. Does it make any sense to buy a huge vehicle that is exempt from fuel and safety standards and then drill in a wildlife preserve for more oil?

Drives me crazy. But the people have spoken.
Americans are the SUV drivers in the global village.purplepaul
Mar 17, 2003 3:31 PM
No argument there. Just one question: how come SUV consumption is rising everywhere (except Japan)?