This Morning CNN ran a piece on Michele Bachmann, House Representative from Minnesota and her comments that Obama, and some members of the House might be anti-American and the media should be investigating them. Of course this again brings up Gov. Palin's comments about being in the pro-American parts of the country.
A few minutes with google show Neocons, Liberals , Muslims, and Pro-Lifers are all anti-american, if I had more time, I'd come up with more examples but that's enough to start. If you start to look at it you start to realize that pro-american means "agrees with me" and anti-american means "disagrees with me". If you're not with us, you must be against us.
This all got me to thinking, "What does it mean to be an American?".
As I began thinking about it a speech from the movie The America President came to mind.
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free"."
No matter how you feel about Aaron Sorkin this paragraph does the best job ever of summing up the First Amendment, which I believe to be the centerpiece of being an American. Being American means it's not only our right, it is our responsibility to question our elected officials and express our opinions. Isn't that what the founding fathers were fighting for? Conversely, in my opinion the most anti-American is to stifle that debate, by claiming that disagreeing with the administration makes one less American.
In the past 10 years there are only 19 people I know for certain who are "Anti-American", the 9/11 hijackers (I'm sure people will start throwing names out there to bait me, I'm sure there are other I'm thinking of right now). Truth be told 19 Million hijackers can't destroy this country. America is about an ideal, where anyone can be productive, pursue happiness and be express themselves without fear of reprisals or prosecution. That is why our ancestors came here, that is why people come here to this day.
I'm feeling quote happy here but I'm reminded of a trip to Walt Disney World when I was little. One of the attraction there is the "Hall of Presidents" where there are animatronic replicas of all the presidents. As Walt Disney was a big fan of President Lincoln, he had Lincoln give the final speech, which is really built from snippets of a number of Lincoln's speeches.
"The world has never had a good definition of the word "liberty". The American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty. But in using the same word, we do not all mean the same thing.
"What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning embattlements, our bristling sea coasts. These are not our reliance against tyranny. Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.
"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us in a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?
"I answer that if it ever reach us, it must spring from amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be the authors and finishers. As a nation of free men, we must live through all times, or die by suicide.
"Let reverence for the law be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in the schools, in the seminaries, and in the colleges. Let it be written in primers, in spelling books and almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And in short, let it become the political religion of the nation. And let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes, and tongues, and colors, and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly at its altar.
"And let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that, in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.
"Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, or frightened from it by menaces of the destruction to the government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might. And in that faith, let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."
I believe that the threat mentioned by Lincoln is this with us or against us attitude that runs through our culture today.