What Is Considered American?

To The Editor:

There is a movement gaining momentum because of frustration over an intrusive overbearing federal government and its obsession with multiculturalism. It is called secession and there are movements to secede from the United States in Texas, Colorado, Maryland, northern California, Washington State and Oregon. This trend should prompt us to think about what it means to be an American and what it is in our culture that binds us together.

It has become increasingly difficult to identify oneself simply as “American.” The designation has all but disappeared from U.S. documents. When responding to questionnaires, we are compelled to select an identity from a plethora of hyphenated subcategories. We debate if we even speak the same language and can talk to each other in English. Communicating in English is not a repudiation of your “roots” but a means of sharing your own and understanding all others. Using a common language and defining oneself simply as American is not incompatible with a multicultural society that respects and cherishes diversity.

It seems that some beliefs are rapidly polarizing the country. Are we a nation that believes in common law based on the Ten Commandments? Does whatever the majority happen to vote upon become the new law regardless of our rights? Do we have a sense of shared values? Do we believe we can create a better life for ourselves by being self-reliant and work hard? Are we givers or takers? Do we look within ourselves and the Constitution for solutions or do we look to the government?

After World War II, the traits of benevolence, tolerance, compassion, self reliance, integrity and hard work became universally recognized as the essential ingredients of the American character. Few institutions teach American history, the Constitution and the basics of our representative government. Even fewer celebrate the contributions and achievements of those who came to America in search of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and created the highest standard of living on the planet. If the designation “American” no longer has any meaning and is not worthy of contemplation and examination, then who are we?

Ed Konecnik,
Flushing