Framing The Question Of What Makes A True American

20 Oct

"Antelopers" by Gabriel Thy

"Antelopers" by Gabriel Thy

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Date: October 20, 2007 11:58 AM
Yolo Mojo—

Well, I bounced on over to read this entry when you first posted it, and found the issue of quality interest to me, and wanted to comment, but immediately realized that the question in whole was of such profound curiosity to me, I would not be satisfied with a quick comment lauding you for your inspired entry, so I put aside my impulse to write anything at all at the moment. But by popular demand, her I am. Do you mind if I kiss the ground first. Just kidding. It's not the ground that makes one a True American. It's much more forgiving than the blood-soaked soil. I need to explain.

So, thanks for dragging me back to the drawing board...

Given that it appears when facing an intellectual firing squad meant to rid us of our peculiar defect, we humans cannot resist the challenge of resistance, and given that we nearly always scuffle for an outlet to exhaust our failures and a platform to promote our successes while relying on the amazing flexibility of our own internal logic, after rejecting that of others—presumably, a dominant American trait—I will proceed.

The question here before us is indeed one of those representational quagmires of which I shall try to emerge without scattering too much debris, but a certain amount is unavoidable. Such is the general weakness of language when attempting to framing a fluid proposition. For by asking what is a True American, we must infer that there is such an entity as a False American. To respond to the original tautology is of course an exercise in existential manipulation, manipulation of a language, at best, fraught with lurking dangers, real or imagined, and at worst, simply fraudulent, contingent upon as many details as we wish to reflect or as few as we think satisfies our obligations as self-amusing pontificators.

But let’s not stagger.

I suggest we return to the original DNA of Americanism, and that is the documentation of those founding fathers, who in rebellion against the king of its former lands in Great Britain, forsook much and labored plenty in codifying for their own and subsequent generations of a people that became known as Americans.
It seems to me that the original question as posited in the title of your blog was barely considered in the text, Mojo. After arguing for the rule of generalizations (i.e. accepted traits when grouped together), which I eagerly accept as a valid proposition, you never moved past them, in terms of concretely describing, a True American.

Your depiction of the “true” American is defined by grabbing examples of supposed “uniqueness” or perhaps “the exempliary” in the American experience, but you never actually got around to clarifying or redeeming these specific attributes, as indicative of the “true” American. Cultural activities and other surface traits while perhaps informative on the superficial level hardly expose the essence of a true national character.

Two points you made I wish to highlight. Without dipping into that linguistic bag of tricks woefully dubbed—political correctness—often used to paralyze and render meaningless certain types of critical discussions, I strongly agree with you there’s no logical escape from the nuances of stereotype in practice.

In a world where we are told to believe that statistics don’t lie, particularly when agenda-driven sociologists insist on a set of numbers and effects as proof for the need in setting parameters in the social sphere as they see fit. We all rely on personal observations to make informed choices and to characterize events and situations in our lives. But, we can agree, generalizations are an unfortunate substitute for individualized details when distinguishing specifics among any loosely defined group. The sheer hypocrisy that certain “politicalized” groups and individuals practice from either end of the social spectrum in forbidding all but their own “designated” stereotypes is folly and deceit of the highest order.

Secondly,

Therefore, I submit to you that we must look for another fixating criterion upon which to hang our formula for the True American. I suggest we return to the original DNA of Americanism, and that is the documentation of those founding fathers, who in rebellion against the king of its former lands in Great Britain, forsook much and labored plenty in codifying for their own and subsequent generations of a people that became known as Americans.

© 2007 - 2013, Gabriel Thy. All rights reserved.

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