The Question of 'Real' Americans

The following is a short piece from Mariel Garza, a columnist and editorial writer for the Los Angeles Daily News...

In a much-talked-about exchange between Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Chris Matthews in October, Bachmann suggested that there are certain "anti-American" Congressfolk. Bachmann later said that she didn't mean it. At a campaign rally, another Republican, Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina, told a crowd that "liberals hate real Americans." He later said he didn't mean it either. Gov. Sarah Palin has been making oblique references to "real America" as part of her stumping for the election, which seems to categorize everyone in California and other nonheartland areas an "unreal" Americans.

This raises the obvious question about who is a "real" American, and how one gets on that list. It's a ridiculous notion that any legal citizen is more "American" than anyone else.
Real Americans are a diverse and motley bunch who defy categorization. They come in all colors. They come in all ages. They come in every religious faith. They come in every political ideology. They live in the cities and the towns, the suburbs and the farms, the mountains and the swamps. In all their collective glory, warts and all, they represent the Real America. God bless 'em all.

Although Mariel Garza is moving in the right direction I would like to speak more candidly. What these Republican folks are essentially saying from my point of view is that 'real' Americans are white protestants. Plain and simple. I firmly believe they are lying through their teeth when they say they "didn't mean it". If these weren't their true feelings, why would they profess them in the first place? It is only after the fact, when slammed in the court of public opinion, that they apologize and recind their statements. Those who have come to identify themselves as 'real' Americans often seem to be whites unwilling to recognize their privilege, see themselves as conservative idealogues, ethnocentrics, or racists. 'Real' Americans have seemingly come to categorize themselves as being blue collar and anti-intellectual in thought and action and having a certain fondness for the "Rebel Spirit" of the South. Perhaps a new civil war is brewing between Americans and 'real' Americans. I emplore people to choose their side carefully, or to walk away from the battle altogether toward a space that unites people instead of divides them.

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