If sometimes, weighed down with the complexities of uneasy empire, we perchance wonder if America could be freedom’s fading star, it’s somewhat reassuring to realize that the nation is so young it still does not recognize the existence of Americans. Even the Indians don’t completely get the nod, because they’re still camped out on reservations.
We might see the persistent refusal to accept “I’m an American” as a recognized nationality, at least on the home front, as a consonant reflection of our mixed and matched heritage. But it does present us with inconveniences.
Tell a fellow American who asks your nationality, “I’m an American,” and what does he say? “Oh, come on, tell me, really, what are you?”
“I just told you,” you repeat, in your resourceful attempt to nationalize yourself, “I was born and rear-beaten in America.”
“No, no,” your interrogator presses on, “I mean, where did your parents come from?”
“Well,” you let out, “my mother was born in West Virginia.”
“Then where did your father come from?”
Now, you’ve been cornered, so you finally confess that he came from here, there, or wherever. Let’s say Ireland. And what does your pouncing interrogator reply?
“Oh, so you’re Irish.”
Actually, the only time you get to be an American is when you’re likely to suffer the slings of outrageous interactions in distant lands.
“Oh, so you’re an American,” you’re told, usually in a tone that intimates at least a slight reprimand, as soon as the securely French, Italian, or whatever person you chance to chat with determines you’re from the USA.
And, no matter how much effort your make to elude detection by speaking in the tongue of your assailant, the nonchalant accusation pops to the fore as soon as your first Yankee twang intrudes.
Will Durant, the popular (dare we say American?) historian, estimated that it takes about eight-hundred years for a country to develop a civilization. I wonder how long it takes short of that to develop the nationality that might achieve it.