Monday, May 02, 2005

On the semantics of "Real Americans"

Scary thought:

"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who is thought to be considering a presidential run . . ."

But also scary, in this little Yahoo news bit, is the fact that this happened:

Robertson, who launched a brief presidential bid in 1988, said that if he were president he would not appoint Muslims to serve in his Cabinet and that he was not in favor of Muslims serving as judges.

"They have said in the Koran there's a war against all the infidels," he said. "Do you want somebody like that sitting as a judge? I wouldn't."

And I heard NOTHING about it until just now.

I think that an unexplored facet of this administration is just how narrowly they define "Americans." Americans are NOT foreign-born, they are Christian, they are families, they are pro-military and they are white. If you look at the language of so much of the drivel that comes from the Right, it is clear that there are a hell of a lot of people that fall outside of their idea of "Americans." The whole "war on people of faith" phrase kind of illustrates this- people of faith are "Americans," while people of non-faith, or people percieved to be such, are the enemy. Americans in the heartland are painted as flatly and as two-dimensionally as American Gothic. The phrase "Real Americans" is implicitly defined as not just a white, Christian resident of a suburban area in a heartland state, but also as a right-leaning individual. This bulletin board shows just how closely the term "Real Americans" has been tied to any Bush supporter. This piece gets into more detail on this subject:

But the rules are different on the other side of the aisle. In today's politics, it is acceptable for Republicans to traffic in ugly stereotypes and assert outright that people who come from some areas of America are not really American. Some might remember the ad to which I referred, aired by the conservative Club for Growth, which said, "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs." . . .

Vermont. Which is apparently not "America."

. . . And now George W. Bush has gone on the offensive against the Bay State. To hear him tell it, Massachusetts is not a state now on its fourth Republican governor in a row or one with one of the lowest tax burdens in the country, as the Boston Globe recently reported, but some sort of Sodom on the Bay, with 90% tax rates, mandatory Wicca ceremonies in public schools, and an anarcho-syndicalist majority in the state legislature. How could "real" Americans be expected to accept a candidate from such a place?

Bush is hardly the first Republican to use this attack; when the DNC decided to hold its convention in Boston, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said, "If I were a Democrat, I suspect I'd feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, America."

But as an American, I'm not only getting more frustrated with the narrowing and negative connotations of the label, I'm also getting peeved at the fact that my nationality . . . and my right to even inhabit this country . . . is called into question if I don't fit into a certain ideology.


  1. The Dutch should have allied with the French and Indians to push the English back out to sea.

    If my Dutch ancestors hadn't needed English, settlers to buy the really damp lots in the Mohawk Valley we wouldn't have to put up with this crap.

  2. I'm still begrudging Lincoln for not letting the South secede, albeit for different reasons than most Southerners.

  3. Hey VV

    I suppose I'm southern Canadian now, which is something my wife and I have suspected all along.

  4. Vestal Vespa, I'm also getting a little ticked off, no, make that a lot pissed off, damnit!