The Never Ending Battle…


 Aunt B got a hold of my copy of Uncle Sam by Steve Darnell and Alex Ross.  After our little skirmish at KleinVoter’s, I figured it would lend her some much needed perspective.

Uncle Sam manages to strike a balance between being patriotic and stridently anti-American, on one hand it illuminates the crimes of the past and on the other it offer hope for the future. It takes all the bad and all the good and makes it plain for all to see.

I think what this book is aiming trying to show us the past and the present but also give hope for the future, part of the story has Uncle Sam meeting his arch-foe, himself, not the Uncle Sam of old but a shiny sparkly stilt walking flunky in a political rally. Sam sees what he has become, a parody of himself, iconic yes but an icon for greed and corruption, not truth and justice. He later faces the iconic Anti Uncle Sam, sat smoking dollar bill cigars atop a mountainous throne of TV’s straddled across Capitol Hill.

The story is about the struggle to retain the principles upon which the country was founded, freedom and equality, and not pay lip service to the place it has become, to return to the old values of simple responsibility for ones actions. America never truly gained freedom and equality for all but it should never stop fighting for that goal.

Steve Darnell puts it thusly, "Uncle Sam doesn’t lean politically one way or the other.  I think it’s a humanist take, like a 96-page intervention to a friend with a serious problem-is it better to be an enabler or use tough love?" 

" The heart of this system is supposed to be based on ideals, but those ideals have been compromised and manipulated from the start.  As soon as we got rid of the British, we became the British", adds Alex Ross.

Which, given my hyphenated American heritage’s historical enmity towards the British, brings us full circle. 

The Dork over at Dork Nation weighs in with his view of our little hyphenated hyperbole. 

 I’m not really sure when this period of unhyphenated Americanism existed.  It didn’t Dork, that’s the point.

 Oh wait, that was when people were called wops, spics, kikes, pollacks, etc with impunity. Yeah, no hyphens needed then! What a great time of unity!  That’s what Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were going on about.  The whole idea of labelling people based on their ethnicity is divisive and dangerous.  It doesn’t matter if your ancestors were Hutus, Hottentots, or Huguenots, when you get here, everybody is an American.

Sarcastro seems to confuse multiculturalism with moral relevancy. He suggests that multiculturalism will allow us to embrace things like clitorectomies.  Multiculturalism is moral relevancy.  The definition of multiculturalism stresses tolerance and mutual respect for cultural differences within a country’s borders.  That’s fine, except for cultural differences that need to be left back in Old World.

Bringing up things like clitorectomies is irrelevant.   How so, Dork?  If I am expected to tolerate and mutually respect the cultural differences of others, isn’t that affixing a morally relative label on genital mutilation?

For one thing, many Somalies came here to ESCAPE the kind of life that allows such practices, yet, funny, they don’t shy away from being Somalian, even though American on paper.    Ok, how much is "many"?  What about the few?  Is there a numerical threshold of acceptable genital mutilations?  Saying that Somalis come to America to escape that barbaric practice is as naive as saying that everyone who came to pre-Colonial America did so to "escape religious persecution."

 Multiculturalism (which means so many different things to different people) is certainly not about the "supremacy of ethnic identity" over being an American. Multiculturalism does not (and in all likelihood, NEVER will) lead to the Balkanization of the US.  Well, how would you know if  you can’t even pin down a definition for it?   Besides, I’m talking about the stupidity of hyphenating Americans, not whether we should have St. Paddy’s or Cinco de Mayo or Kwanzaa.

What I’m seeing from both the Aunt and the Dork is a view that opposing hyphens is tantamount to demanding monoculturalism.   Not the case, at all.  Let’s instead of focusing on the differences between me, Mohammed, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton, let’s focus on our common interests.   That of course being the struggle against Dean Wormer.

Here’s the deal.  If you create a label for your  ethnic group, no matter what it is, and define yourself according to that hyphenated label, you make your group an easy target for those with pejorative intent to slander your ethnicity as a group.  Isn’t it easier to stereotype, say Patrick Kennedy, when the Irish-American predeliction for  boozin’ it up is thrown in there? 

Let’s start in on the African-Americans.  How do you take a continent with numerous ethnic groups, cultures, and differing experiences and lump them all in as a lazy way out to describe skin color without being offensive.  Tiger Woods is considered African American by most, when he has denoted his ancestry as Cablinasian, a far more euphonius and descriptive adjective.  How about Charlize Theron or Ernie Els?  They are from Africa, why aren’t they African-American?  They’ve spent a lot more time in Africa than the majority of folks who call themselves by that appellation.   How about Egyptians and Algerians?  That’s part of Africa, last time I checked.  So really, it should be sub-Saharan African-Americans.  That rolls right off the tongue. 

Lastly, wtf do yakuza have to do with it?    I needed an ethnically Asian criminal organization, so that Asian Americans wouldn’t be pigeon-holed as, you know,  just being really good at math. 

 uncle sam.jpg


I’m Uncle Sam, that’s who I am; Been hidin’ out in a rock and roll band.
Shake the hand that shook the hand of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan.


18 Responses to “The Never Ending Battle…”

  1. Aunt B. Says:

    "If I am expected to tolerate and mutually respect the cultural differences of others…"You’re being deliberately obtuse. It’s quite clear to anyone with a brain that tolerance and mutual respect of cultural differences does not mean that we don’t expect people to follow our laws–as you well know. And, though some forms of cooter carving are not illegal, hacking your daughter’s clitoris off with a piece of glass is.Anyway, I’m confused as to how this insistance on your part that people identify themselves only as American jibes with your libertarianism. If they aren’t hurting anyone and they aren’t forcing you to call them anything other than "American," why does it bother you what they call themselves?

  2. Sarcastro Says:

    A nation is a ‘set of people with a common identity who have formed a nation-state or usually aspire to do so’ (Viotti and Kauppi, 2001).It jibes with my libertarianism inasmuch that I’m not in favor of COERCING people into dropping the hyphen affectation. Most usage experts recommend dropping the hyphen because it implies to some people dual nationalism and inability to be accepted as truly American. The Japanese American Citizens League is supportive of dropping the hyphen because the non-hyphenated form uses their ancestral origin as an adjective for "American."How about that? Good at more than just math.Sez you,"…tolerance and mutual respect of cultural differences does not mean that we don’t expect people to follow our laws…".Sez me,"Except, of course, in the case of Mexican-Americans."

  3. Aunt B. Says:

    Wait. So, it’s just the hyphen that pisses you off? You’d be fine with Somoli American or British American or whatever? You’re objecting to whether the qualifying adjective is adjectival enough or whether that hyphen allows it to sneak into some kind of treasonous noun status?!I can’t even form words to express how ridiculous that is.Belarghwrjdowghbywp.It is so ridiculous you’ve reduced me to speaking in tongues.

  4. Sarcastro Says:

    Well, religion is usually the last refuge of the intellectually bankrupt.I like the Somalis, except for those fuckers in Blackhawk Down. But if they want to bring their ethnic/national origin into a discussion, that is their unfortunate business. African-American, like the equally dumb, European-American is meaningless in conversation, yet rammed into the public’s usage due to the fiat of some batch of dopes who were tired of saying "black" or "white". There is a world of difference between Norwegians and Italians as there is a world of difference between the Somalis and the Angolans. The term renders itself as meaningless as well as divisive.I’m saying that calling yourself Japanese American is preferable to Japanese-American where such distinctions are necessary. African (or even better, Somali) American should refer to those who have emigrated from Africa and sought citizenship, not people who have been here for 300 years.

  5. Aunt B. Says:

    "African (or even better, Somali) American should refer to those who have emigrated from Africa and sought citizenship, not people who have been here for 300 years."This would almost be convincing from a person who didn’t own a kilt. At what point are you going to be an non-distinct American?

  6. Sarcastro Says:

    Again, you fail to see any point past your own bosom.I don’t run around calling myself Scottish-American. I am free to celebrate the culture of my forebearers, as is anyone else. But to put my Easily Sunburned-American background as my DEFINING issue is stupid. I haven’t thought about sacking York, fighting the Saxon hordes down the street, or declaring war on McDonald’s as they belong to a clan we have a land dispute with. Something about all their cows grazing on our heather, or something. I acknowledge my ancestry, I am not defined by it, nor do I put it above my identification as an American.

  7. Aunt B. Says:

    I think *you* fail to see any point past my bosom. And who can fault you for that? It’s an amazing thing to behold.You’re making a bunch of assumptions about what being a hyphenated American means and drawing conclusions based on those assumptions and then getting pissed at hyphenated Americans for the conclusions you draw.

  8. Sarcastro Says:

    You’ve just talked yourself into a circle. We all came from somewhere. Being a "hyphenated" American isn’t something different or special. I’ll dumb it down for you. It’s like in Dr. Seuss’ story about The Sneetches. In this case, if all the Sneetches have stars upon thars, what is the point in saying you are a Star-Bellied Sneetch?

  9. Aunt B. Says:

    Who cares? The point is that, for some folks, it’s important for them to say that they’re Star-Bellied Sneetches. They aren’t claiming they’re not Sneetches. They’re not conspiring with anti-Sneetch factions to bring the Sneetch government down. They’re just saying that they’re Star-Bellied Sneetches. And they do have stars upon their bellies, so why is that so threatening?

  10. Sarcastro Says:

    Why are those Sneetches being divisive for no reason? What evidence do you have to support the claim that these Sneetches aren’t conspiring to bring down the Sneetch way of life? And don’t try to tell me that McBean fellow isn’t involved somehow.

  11. Exador Says:

    It’s threatening when they start whining that there aren’t enough Star-Bellied Sneetches doing this or that, and we need to start giving them an unfair advantage, in order to be fair.

  12. Short and Fat Says:

    I’m an Earthling-American.

  13. Katherine Coble Says:

    S&F, that has yet to be proven, no?

  14. peptodismal Says:

    I suggest that the hyphen, which is separative in nature, be replaced with parenthesis which is explanatory, and can be pronounced in a hushed aside much like an epithet:American(African)American (Mexican)American (Japanese)American (Dork)American (Mogrel)

  15. peptodismal Says:

    Make that last one Mongrel. Preview doesn’t help the blind.

  16. J Says:

    I’m an American-Asshole.Nevermind. Way too redundant.

  17. Huck Says:

    This has an easy solution. If you respect someone, respect THEIR cultural identity. If you don’t, call them what YOU like.It all boils down to respect.

  18. Huck Says:

    BTW… The fact that you own a kilt offends me, Sar. Why can’t you dress like the rest of us Amerikans?

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