Hyphening of people’s citizenship is not new, Teddy Roosevelt (TR) railed against it over a century ago. He famously declared, “There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all.” …..“But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as anyone else.”
Teddy, in his speech, was more worried about split allegiances than anything else, in modern times the problem has grown much more insidious than feeling homesick. Today hyphenation is about dividing societies in order to pit people against each other.
Built upon TR’s cousin Franklin’s strategy of identity politics, the modern incarnation of the hyphenated American is meant to deepen the inherent divides within American society. Turning cracks into canyons, today the hyphen marks not so much divided loyalties, but implies there are groups of sub-citizens. People who are marked as not fully American, but instead a subset of Americans. Whether this is what it was meant to do, or not, that is the message being sent.
A form of psychological segregation, it sends a clear subliminal message to those upon the label is set. Combined with other messages, it becomes part of the group’s identity. An identity that is seen as less than others. This is no more true than when it is applied to black people in America. The term African-American is probably the most vile of the hyphenated American incarnations, as well as one of the most accepted.
Imagine the NY Jet’s having Running Back-Jets, Defensive End-Jets and Blocker-Jets. Instead of a team with common goals, they would become fractured in much the same way Obama’s America has become. In the end, some parts of the team would see the problems of others as not their issues. As the running backs ran down the field, the blockers might decide to do their own thing. The truth is, teams and country’s need cohesion to survive. A sense of common purpose, and of being together. Artificial divisions become sources of suspicion and even animosity. Add in historical issues like slavery, and Jim Crow as well as a cacophony of voices spreading messages of hate, what you have is the state of modern American race relations.
As a result, a child being shot in certain neighborhoods becomes “their” problem. Minds twisted by social justice lies turn on those they see as their tormentors and enemies. In such a world, a 13 year old can be doused with gasoline, or handicapped man tortured without reservation. This is not to say that hyphenated citizenship is the sole cause of such heinous crimes, but the divisions it represents is.
Until people unite under a common banner, the problems that affect all of Americans will not be solved. The creation of false divisions stand as roadblocks that add to the misery of all sides. The fate of all Americans is inseparably bound, there is no them or they, only Americans one an all. It is in light of this, that hyphenated citizenship must be seen. The term African-American, and similar, should be as repulsive as European-American or Defensive Lineman-Jets. Equal before God and the Law, all Americans have the same claim on the land of their birth (or choice) as the next, to claim other wise through hyphening should be seen as absurd as it is. [Correspondingly, the idea of minority rights (or any group rights) is repulsive. All have the same rights, or there are no rights at all!]
The truth is, Americans of all races have more in common with each other, than people in remote lands. The issues they face are not unique, but shared. True, some areas have greater challenges than others, but that should bring people together not tear them apart. The fractured divisions ravaging the American landscape are artificial creations. Scenarios carefully choreographed by those seeking personal or political advantage from the ensuing chaos.
Let it not be forgotten, an uneducated child, raised in a single parent home, is just as likely to end up in prison regardless of race. Success in the professional world can be linked to many things, but ethnicity is not one of them. There are no problems unique to minorities, or barriers outside those made by people themselves. What there is are shared problems, and even shared tragedies. Issues that can only be solved by people acting together with unity of purpose. Hyphenating people only makes this more difficult, if not impossible.
In the end, hyphenated citizenship is a form of psychological segregation that undermines American unity. Just as Teddy Roosevelt said so many years ago, it has no place in America.
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This post is Dedicated to George, an old man who refused to have his citizenship hyphenated. When referred to as an African-American he quickly retorted,” Don’t call me an African-American, I’m as American as anybody else.” He often expounding on that thought by saying, ” I have never been to Africa and have no intentions of going, America is my home.”