27 July 2016

Uncommon Commentary #511: Your Identity Can’t Be Stolen if You've Never Had One

Most peoples of the world have no difficulty in knowing who they are; what it means to be French, for instance, is simply to be French.  For us Yanks, though, it's a problem.  Had you asked a US citizen of the early Nineteenth Century what it meant to be "American," he, knowing that the founding of his country had taken place on a political rather than an ethnic basis, would have told you that it meant believing in “government by the people” and all that.  By the onset of the 1900's, however, some other countries (including the one from which we forcibly separated ourselves for the sake of what's usually been termed political progress) had approached, matched, or exceeded our degree of political freedom.  Further, the composition of the populace had changed, for the USA had received heavy migration from places other than the United Kingdom.  Realizing that "American-ness" needed to be redefined, someone then conceived the symbol of the melting-pot, the idea being that peoples from all over the world were assimilated into a supposed new nationality.  Today, we've repudiated our own melting-pot ideology and replaced it with profession of belief in its antithesis: "multicultural diversity."  The beginnings of three centuries, therefore, and three totally different conceptions of what the United States of America is "about": this amply demonstrates that we have an ongoing identity crisis, which will not be resolved until we acknowledge that, because our culture derives primarily from Great Britain, our country is practically an unofficial member of the Commonwealth. (One might call the USA the nearly-identical twin sister of Canada; the one who ran away from home rather than wait to be given independence, for what it’s worth.)