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Monday, May 19, 2008

who gets to be american? a jeremiad.


posted by Delia Christina
Well, according to Kathleen Parker, it's all about the blood.

From her column:

It’s about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots. Some run deeper than others and therein lies the truth of Fry’s political sense. In a country that is rapidly changing demographically — and where new neighbors may have arrived last year, not last century — there is a very real sense that once-upon-a-time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity.
We love to boast that we are a nation of immigrants. But there’s a different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines back through generations of sacrifice.

It's the blood that somehow conveys heritage, values, national identity and civic belonging. If you don't have the right kind of 'blood' then you're not a 'real' American. You're a wannabe, a poser, a fake. You have no claim on this American birthright because you aren't 'pure-blooded' American. You're a mutt, impure, Other.

Is any of this ringing anyone's bells? Even without graduate degrees in history?

Because we should know about bloodlines and blood spilt for sacrifice. Sweet holy jesus, this Parker woman dares to tell anyone in this country (who isn't white) that the sacrifices their families were forced to make because they were Other in this great country of 'opportunity' and 'plenty' don't count.

Who hasn't sacrificed to be an American? Who?
Have black people not sacrificed?
Have the Chinese not sacrificed?
Have the Japanese not sacrificed?
Have the Native Americans, for god's sake, not sacrificed?
Have the Mexicans and the South Asians not sacrificed?

All our histories in the past two hundred years have been litanies of the sacrifice and 'blood' of Others. Why does our 'blood' not count and other 'blood' does?

This column so infuriated me, the only thing that could make me feel good about my anger was this Lincoln quote:

"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.' When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy."

Oh, Abe. If you only knew.

I knew this election season would bring out people's subterranean ugliness, the thoughts that whisper around their heads they would never dare bring out into the light, but I thought folks would treat this historical moment with a little bit more class. How naive of me. Once again, the white supremacist underpinnings of this country have jumped the leash.

You are killing me, America!

I keep giving you chances; I keep thinking, this isn't everyone. It's the media; it's some snaggle-toothed nutter living in the woods; it's just some run of the mill white person who doesn't know any people of color so they're just sort of stupid; or it's Fox News (see nutter). But this came out in a nationally syndicated column. This piece of xenophobic, nativist trash (which reads no different from the xenophobic, nativist trash from the 19th and early 20th centuries) was approved by someone. Someone's lizard brain read this and thought, 'Eh, what's the big deal? It's just an op-ed.'

Gah! America, if you were a person standing in front of me I'd slap you!

Pat Buchanan wants me to 'be grateful.' He wants me to shut up and be grateful I live in a place that suffers from the worst case of degenerate racism, a place that makes no significant movement toward recognition of or reconciliation for its white supremacist past. But here's our chance! Here's a moment - a gorgeous, breathtaking moment! And what do we do with this moment? We say he is not (and by extension, we are not - I am not) a 'full-blooded American'!

Oh, America, you make we wanna holler!

I can't be grateful when I keep waiting for this country to grow. the fuck. up. I keep waiting for it to do some frakking introspection. Look back at our history and make some little effort to change. But this country, rather than look backward with a critical and regretful eye, looks behind like Lot's wife and can't feel its limbs turning to salt.

[h/t: Too Sense: Oh, Hell No.
And here's that excellent post back in March on the Buchanan 'black gratitude' mess at
Obsidian Wings.]

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