Monday, February 18, 2008

What is Good American?

Culturism holds that majority cultures have a right to define, protect and promote themselves. In speaking about culturism I’m often asked to define the majority culture. Here, a member of the majority culture is an American. The question then is, “what is an American?” In this day of nearly open borders and multicultural confusion, this is a very important question.

I concede that Americans are not easily defined. We have neither a shared religion nor race like other countries. We do have a shared history, Western ideals and a shared future. But beyond that, being an American leaves you with such a broad range of behaviors that it boggles the mind: Gay ministers are good Americans and conservative gun proponents are good Americans too. We are a nation full of liberty and spectrum. Though the definition of Americans needs to be broad, it is still definable and a prerequisite to guiding our nation.

First of all, to be an American is to want what is best for America. This sounds like the utterance of a politician, but we need to remember this basic idea. If you violate our laws and only complain about America you may not be a good American. Like being a sports fan, being a good American requires love. Fans can complain about their team, you might disagree with its policies, but at heart you have to really want your team to win. If you want your team to lose, you cannot be said to be a proper fan of that team. GO LAKERS! No matter what their legal status, if people hate America and wish it ill, they cannot be said to be Americans. Our immigration laws have always paid attention to this emotional bond because we have traditionally realized that loving America is not a universal trait. We need to remember this component of citizenship.

The analogy with sports breaks down at the level of action. As a Lakers fan I am inactive. As an American, I speak with people about what I think will make America better. I attend rallies. But more than that, I try to improve myself and be a really good person in order to do credit to my grandparents and our forefathers and our traditions. I work hard at what I do and take my work and role in America seriously. When we say a movie is good, it is infrequent that we are referring to its moral message. Good here means entertaining. But to be a good American in a moral sense means, again, that your actions contribute to our country in a positive way.

If we need to change our institutions for your cultural group you are probably not a good candidate to be an American. For example, many Muslims are currently challenging our basic holidays such as Halloween and Christmas, requesting we build footbaths in quasi-public institutions, change our photo identification laws and refusing to serve customers with American tastes in markets and taxis. Many Muslims have asked us to accept Islamic dress, polygamy, honor killing and female genital mutilation. Worse than that, in Western Europe they have challenged our sacred right to free speech. These do not show an affiliation for Western culture. Wherever you see efforts to challenge our traditions, it helps us see the contours of American culture. These examples show we have a culture. If you love America you want to assimilate into its core culture and help perpetuate it.

Immigration that does not recognize the rule of law is another area of concern. Again, if we need to change our institutions to fit you, it is a sign you are not fitting in. Many immigrants believe that we need to dismantle our border laws to suit them. It is not clear that they want this because they think it is best for America. When people do not pay taxes once they are here or overuse public services and send money “home” it is not clear that they have America’s best interest at heart. When you advocate cockfights, have no qualms about underage pregnancy or live a criminal lifestyle, it shows you do not have any idea what America is about. A good American has upholding American institutions, fiscal stability and reputation as a goal.

This gets us to our last category. If you are a businessperson who puts profit above nation, you are a bad American. Divesting from America and running sweatshops domestically undermines our tax base. It enervates the foundation of our liberal democracy: the middle class. If poor opportunities give rise to demagogues, frustration and riots, we will lose liberties. Where will the businessman then live and enjoy a good quality of life? Do you really want to be secluded from America? Would it not feel better to be a part of an America that is strong free and something you can proud of? When businessmen’s consciences are so checked out that they think porn on television and gangster rap on radio have no negative consequences, they have shown that they have forgotten that we are all in this together. And remembering that we are all in this together is a big part of being a good American. Go team!!

The limits set in this broad definition of what constitutes a good American may seem harsh. But we have defined ourselves and had fear of cultural decline since the Puritans. This healthy habit has served us well. In the age where television tells us we can have all fun and no responsibility, being clear on such definitions has extra importance. If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything. Multiculturalism provides the perfect example. It tells us that we have no culture. In schools it can provide no moral guidance. It tells us that Islamic law, porn, sending our infrastructure to China and the gang lifestyle are all equally American. This means in school it must lie about history. When our culture provides so few value assertions outside of schools, it behooves us to remember we do have a culture, fragile traditions to be proud of, and a set of responsibilities that go along with our liberties.
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