Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Common ground on who's American

Common ground on who's American csmonitor.com

What does it mean to be an American?

A survey finds that behavior is more important than background.

I'm not surprised, I also agree.

In America it doesn't matter where you or your ancestors came from, what matters is if you act like an American.

While the "Founding Fathers" were WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants), this ethnic group no longer dominates the land, defining exclusively - and wrongly - that only WASPs are "real Americans." (And, I say that as a WASP.)

Your ancestors don't have to be in this country for generations, either.

(FWIW, some of my mom's ancestors came here in colonial times and included native Americans and Revolutionary War veterans, while my dad was born in Sweden, making him an immigrant. So I'm all over the place with this.)

America is based on our land and ideas - the ideas found in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

I do believe acting like an American can include some ethnic pride and involvement, having some ties to one's homeland. Heck, I do. I have a good time at Ikea - and make sure I have their Swedish meatball plate (which, BTW, is even as good as my Swedish grandmother's - yes). America is about diversity, and I think the country's better off for it.

OTOH, one's ethnic ties should be secondary to one's ties to this country, America. That just makes sense and is obvious. America comes first, with wherever you or your ancestors came from second. I would consider this acting like an American.

Yes, and I do think using English is part of acting like an American. Hey, my Swedish dad learned it.... My grandparents, the rest of my immigrant family.

All in all, it's a very good thing that we're giving more thought these days into what it means to be an American, and what is America.

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