/* Am I A Pundit Now?: The American Identity

Friday, July 01, 2005

The American Identity

The United States is not a nation, for it is not defined by race, history, geography, language or culture. What is the proof for this assertion? Anyone can be an American. You can be born into a family with generations of American roots, and you would still be no more an American than a Bangladeshi recently sworn in as a citizen, and certainly not entitled to more rights.

Successive waves of immigration to these shores have altered the landscape and brought new character to the American soul. Not even Native Americans can claim to be from American soil - they too immigrated, over the Bering Strait some ten thousand years ago. Thus no group or faction can claim sole inheritance in ownership of America.

What stays constant among these demographic tides is the Republic, the Constitution, and a commitment to Liberty, and this is the American identity. The identity of America is not race, language or culture--it is the American Dream: a framework of Liberty with the Constitution as its centerpiece, which allows the full play of the human potential in all endeavors.

The rest of the world holds us to our principles because they know such principles are good and worthy. We are often told that the rest of the world hates us--put aside for a moment whether this is true or not and realize that if they do hate us, they do not hate America per se. What they hate is when we Americans fail to abide by our own professed ideals. Everyone knows that an entire world holding true to the American ideals would be the closest approximation of Utopia man could achieve, and we Americans so often fall short. The mere shadow of perceived wrongs committed by America hangs darker upon us than the manifest wrongs hang on tyrants from whom nothing good is expected. The world looks to us for good things.

Only the most ossified reactionaries--the totalitarian Leftists, the islamofascists, the kleptocratic tyrants--reject the principles this nation was founded upon. The rest of humanity is either glad to live under Democracy, or wishes they were so blessed.

If America is a transcendent ideal, one need not even set foot here to become an American. This is why America is not a nation: it is a universal principle, and not reserved merely for those fortunate enough to be American by an accident of birth.

Linked to Mudville Gazette and Outside the Beltway.

7:50 PM | | |