Thursday, April 29, 2010

You can choose to be an American first

After reading my last few posts, a skeptic might claim that I'm naive about race. I'm advocating that Americans of all colors put their Americanness first and their racial loyalty last. I've also argued that there is some truth to the idea that race is socially constructed.

Let's begin with the idea of socially constructed race. You haven't been reading this blog if you think I deny the biological reality of race. What I deny is that it must be at the center of how you define yourself. The phrase "You are born with your uniform on" is poetic, but misleading.

My brown eyes are a biological reality. Must I then define myself as a Brown and organize with the rest of the dark-eyed world against the Blue and  the Green?  Handedness is a biological reality. Should I march with my fellow left-handed brothers against our right-handed Oppressors? (I should contact our sinistral President. I hear he's got experience as an organizer). Baldness is basically genetic. Should Larry David and I form an army and drive the Hairy-Headed into the sea?

I certainly don't believe we should pretend that race doesn't exist and doesn't explain anything--much of this blog marshals evidence against that--but I'm not sure it has to be at the center of who you are.

Irishness was important when the Irish first arrived. Now, not so much. Polishness was important when they were new. Now, not really. For most now, we're just white folks.

You might respond that ethnicity is flexible, but not race. Blacks and American Indians have been here for centuries, but race is still central to who they are. Well, for a long time it was unrealistic for a black man to minimize his blackness. When you are made a slave because of it, it's important whether you want it to be or not.

Liberals like to pretend the circumstances really haven't changed much, but they are responsible for much of the race-clinging, and the truth is that the importance of race for a black person is now a choice. You probably know blacks who are culturally pretty much like whites. I do, and I don't see why more blacks can't move in that direction. In prior posts, I could find no predictors of voting Republican among blacks, so it's not simply a function of something like IQ or social class.

The move to American first-hood should be easier for Hispanics and especially Asians. The problem is that the country doesn't shame them for their backward particularism. In fact, it encourages them. People need to be challenged: Are you a tribalist, or are you an American?

Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying we can make the correlates of race disappear. A person can't choose, for example, to have an IQ of 115 just because he wants one. I'm talking about how you define yourself. You can choose to be an American first. 



   

11 comments:

california gal said...

You might be too young to remember him, but at 61, I surely do. Eric Severeid was a respected journalist (when being a journalist meant something)and later the wise, old former correspondent who served as a commentator on the CBS Evening News with Cronkite.

It was in the late sixties that I recall one of his essays on the newscast. How prescient he was.

Severeid warned of the "growing problem on the Southern border." He stressed that this flood of immigrants, legal and illegal, was NOT the same as the waves of immigration the nation had experienced from Europe in previous times. Two factors were very different as he saw things.

One, he posited that generations of Mexicans would not, like their European counterparts, eventually grow to see their new place of living as home. They would NOT come to see themselves as Americans first, Mexicans second. The reason? Simple geography. Those Europeans had an ocean separating them from home and their new country. Lacking the financial ability to ever purchase an expensive plane or ocean liner ticket for return visits to their homeland, they accepted that once here, they were here for good; thus, they determined to be Americans, if not for themselves, then for their children.

Severeid pointed out that Mexicans, on the other hand, were but a hop, skip, and a jump back over the border to their home, and
as long as they had a working pick-up, they could make it there whenever they so desired. He even projected that a time would come when transportation costs would plummet (think of the affordability of air travel that was to come) so that even those immigrants from the more Southern Mexican provinces would be able to go home once a year. (Turns out that in my community, they go home twice a year, the whole nuclear family, for 4-6 weeks at a time, the Christmas holiday break considered culturally obligatory, and of course, they yank their kids out of school for the whole time in spite of the protestations of teachers and administrators.) They don't care that their kids miss school. Family and cultural traditions come first. Were there an ocean to cross, a more expensive plane ticket, I doubt they'd make the trip.

Two, Severeid knew that the key to assimilation was a desire born of a need to learn the language of their new land. European women, staying home and raising their kids, spoke the language of their birth, many of them wandering out of the house only rarely, learning only a bit of English to get by, and relying on the children to teach them what they needed to get by. Their husbands, however, considered learning English to be mandatory, and both parents, while still wanting their kids to know the motherland's tongue, were adamant that their kids learn "good English to succeed."

Severeid surmised that the closeness of Mexico would act as a drag on that desire to conquer a new tongue. He was right. Why sweat over becoming fluent in a new tongue when you visit home so often? When the institutions here such as schools and churches and government agencies of all levels and grocery stores and practically all other retail businesses, even your cable company, even the banks, indulge you and speak to you in your mother tongue...hell, when those very institutions and businesses won't even hire those who CAN'T speak to you in your mother tongue?

Those of you who live in a border state and live with the consequences of our lack of political will, our cowtowing to pc, our indulgence of both the immigrant and those who employ him, know just how dire are the results of the failure to address the issues involved.

Ron, people stop identifying as a race, as an ethnicity, as a nationality only when it stops benfitting them to do so or when there are negative consequences for doing so.


To this point, the benefits to their chosen identities outweigh the negatives and until policies change, behavior won't change.

Saint Louis said...

Inductivist: "People need to be challenged: Are you a tribalist, or are you an American?"

I agree. However, we need to make sure they assimilate to white American culture and not negro American culture.

gcochran said...

Long live the merciful Blues and Greens !

Sagat said...

There was a time when immigrants came to America because they wanted to be Americans. Now for many, living in America means simply a change in address. More important to the health and character of this country, there is a large percentage of immigrants that not only have no desire to become American,(at least not in the cultural sense) but are openly hostile to America's traditions and history. No country could survive this type of immigration intact. America will be no exception.

The Man said...

Its a nice idea Ron and oh, how I wish it could be so, but the problem is how IQ makes things unequal.

Fewer Blacks will graduate from High School due to lower IQ, fewer Blacks will graduate from college due to lower IQ and any profession (Cop, Firefighter, accountant, Chef) in which there is any sort of fair testing regime Blacks will come last followed by Hispanics.

And they can vote. So all it takes to burn your beautiful multi-cultural rainbow world down is one Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson willing to play the race dishonestly and poison the whole well for their own profit and amusement.

Or can you explain to me how you will tell 60%+ of Blacks that, yes, they will have to be janitors and bus boys but they should think of themselves as American first?

While you're doing that I will attempt to revive the American Colonization Society. They had the right idea and it is truly a shame that their plan didn't come to fruition.

pzed said...

anti-tribalism rant coming from someone who supports high-iq types outbreeding low-iq types. nope, no tribalism there at all.

you can choose to be a hypocrite first.

Ron Guhname said...

You're right. Discouraging smart people from having kids is good for the country.

Anonymous said...

pzed,

Why is it hypocritical to suggest that a nation in which bright people outnumber the dull is good for all?

Oh, I get it: you don't put stock in common sense.

pzed said...

oh, don't get me wrong. i'm all for high iq types outbreeding low iq types if they care to do so.

i also think it'd improve life in america if it happened. but i don't pretend to be anti-tribalist when i'm not. you've picked your tribe: the smart ppl. own up to it and embrace it. don't put up some front about caring for "americans first" when the ppl you really care about are the smart americans and not so much the dumb ones.

Anonymous said...

People need to be challenged: Are you a tribalist, or are you an American?

So instead of being "blacks" and "whites" we'll all just be part of the "American" tribe? And then what? Cheer when we bomb Iraqis?

Anonymous said...

this has to be the most absurd and blatantly faux-intellectual blarg I've ever come across. First you spend 90% of your time fighting to affirm ideas of race via the long corrupt notion of IQ, then you claim to be an anti-tribalist?

Are you for real? You honestly can't see the absurdity of your position?>