An American. A nationality known around the world, occupying a relatively large chunk of North America.
Not that that’s ever a good-enough definition. Oh, no. Because the problem, most people have different definitions, person to person, state to state, generation to generation.
But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with them.
Take Crevecoeur, for example. As a Frenchmen, he came to America, studied the qualities of the people who lived here (back in the 1830s), and came to a simple conclusion: An American is an American. Simple as that. He is like no other race, nor the descendant of one. He leaves behind all that he had to start over, by American means. All of these people then “melt” together to form a new, completely original nation. It is to be more respected than his ancestor’s and can only depend on himself to prosper.
Personally, I think it’s a bunch of baloney. I mean, really. It is unheard of that the minute an immigrant arrives into America, they drop all that they knew, loved, and respected to take on American customs. And it is because this does not happen, that cultures do not “melt” into each other and become one big soup. Rather, they look for people of their own kind, hence living still by nationality, making the Italian Brooklyn, and the Russian Brooklyn, and so on.
People do not “melt”, rather they “mix”. But by no means do they forget all that they knew to take on something new.
It is in that sense that our dear Teddy Roosevelt is also wrong. In 1915, he made it clear when he said that there are no such thing as a “hyphenated American”, meaning you cannot be African-American, or Irish-American. You must be simply American or nothing at all. After all, who need diversity when you can simply have this nation based on…well…diversity? Because, like he said, these kinds of people are definitely going to bring our country down.
Now, I understand that he was our president. But this isn’t simply patriotism anymore. It’s bordering on the edge of über-nationalism, and in a slightly frightening way. Why must people be strictly Americans? Why can they not be both, their ancestor’s culture and America’s? A boy is not made to chose between basketball and baseball when asked what sport he plays, so why the same way with culture?
A little less than a century later in 2005, Dr. John Gartner stated his opinion on the matter—that an American is a risk-taker for leaving his native land to start over in uncertainty of succeeding or failing. Americans all share that one trait—that there was something they found in America appealing enough to leave all they had to begin a new life here. I agree with this guy a little. True, it takes a lot of courage to pack up and leave to not know what will happen, but that doesn’t simply apply to Americans then, but rather any immigrant.
Unless, of course, the situation in their native country is so bad that they have no other choice than to pack up and leave. In which case, they’re not necessarily taking a risk—it may be safer to leave than to stay. Nor does this apply to those who really did not have a choice of coming—children or babies.
Last, there’s Peter Whybrow, who in 2007 explained about the D4-7—or the risk-taking—gene. He pointed out that there are more people in America with this gene than in other countries. He states that people with this gene are more likely to come to America than people without it, and people who are both first-generation Americans as well as those who have been here for ages have this “American gene”. This man I disagree with on just about everything. The DNA sequence is so long that even if it is possible to pinpoint one gene commonly found in one mass of people, it cannot necessarily be applied to just one characteristic. It could mean everything, and even numerous tests and experiments cannot prove this.
More importantly, I do not see how it is possible for this one gene to predict the course of events to come. One biological factor can’t be the sole reason behind a person leaving their country and coming to America. Of course, I could be wrong, and this is simply a risk-taking gene. But then it is not responsible for people coming to America because there must be people all around the world with this gene.
I do not agree with any of these men one hundred percent. It is ridiculous because each one of them are making generalizations and grouping people simply by where they live. Not every person in America is greedy into making money. Not every person in America is a risk-taker.
So then what do I consider to be an American? Any person who believes they are an American.
And that’s up to them to decide.