The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal


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What it means to be an American...not just some right wing blather, either.
bigbananaslug
bigbananaslug
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here
in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us,
he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else,
for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man
because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.

But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an
American, and nothing but an American.

There can be no divided allegiance here.

Any man who says he is an American, but something else also,
isn't an American at all.

We have room for but one flag, the American flag.

We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...

...and we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is a loyalty to the
American people."


President Theodore Roosevelt, 1907


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Don't agree with the last part.

My loyalty is first to myself and my family.
Then to my close friends.
Then to those who help to support me.
Much farther down the list comes the vague abstraction called "the American People".

Re: Don't agree with the last part.

Don't think I disagree with you, and somehow, I don't think that TR would have disagreed with you, either.

</i>Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all.
[...]
We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...
</i>

Those statements would be of far more weight were they not predicated on absolute blindness to the laws that decreed, from the moment of our nationhood forward, that there were people who were "Americans-lite" - that inherently had less capacity and less priviledge and less legal weight because of the other things that they were as well as Americans.

In the Rare Books room at the Illinois Institute of Technology there is a book from the 1800s that speaks of the stupidity of Americans for allowing another race - the Irish - to enforce its laws, and for allowing other races yet to work in various critical functions, like road-building and manufacturing. I must admit that I was only able to make my way through a couple of the chapters of this book.

They would be of far more weight were they not predicated on absolute blindness to the laws instituted to prevent immigrants from assimilating themselves to "us" by strictly regulating what neighborhoods they might live in, and whether and where they might own property, and which jobs they might be permitted to hold, and what schooling they might be able to obtain.

They would be of far more weight were they not predicated on absolute blindness to the practices intended to ensure that immigrants would need to work so many hours daily simply to survive that there was literally not enough time to sleep, let alone to engage in language lessons.

And they would be of far more weight were they not predicated on absolute blindness to the utter lack of loyalty to nonstandard Americans - immigrant Greeks and Turks and Armenians and Russians and Hmong - by the officers of the Law and of the Court, leading some, in despair, to offer their loyalty to those more willing to protect them.

Fairness is all very well and good as far as it goes. I myself am a Female American and no man at all; so I have to wonder whether or not he meant me at all in this speech. I am also the granddaughter of a Greek immigrant who was informed by her "real American" grandmother that cutting my hair was likely to impair my job opportunities, as my hair is curly enough to lead people to the mistaken conclusion that I am "colored." (Her term.)

I am intensely loyal to the Nation of which I am a child. I am intensely loyal to its Declaration of Independence and to its Constitution and to the ideals on which it was founded. But I have no time for the man who calls his son's battering of a neighbor "boyish high spirits," and then calls upon that neighbor to throw away his crutch.

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