Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Play it again, Pat

Actually, don't.

I had the misfortune of reading Pat's 9/11 column the other day, in which Pat engages in a tiring and repetitive display of self-flagellation-- or, rather, it would be self-flagellation, if Pat still identified with this mongrel mess we call a country. Typically, Pat has the gall to piss all over the country, reviling his political and cultural opponents, then shed crocodile tears that we are so divided.

We seem not only to disagree with each other more than ever, but to have come almost to detest one another. Politically, culturally, racially, we seem ever ready to go for each others’ throats.

One half of America sees abortion as the annual slaughter of a million unborn. The other half regards the right-to-life movement as tyrannical and sexist.

Proponents of gay marriage see its adversaries as homophobic bigots. Opponents see its champions as seeking to elevate unnatural and immoral relationships to the sacred state of traditional marriage.

Egads, people are strongly disagreeing with each other! In America, of all places! It's the end of civilization as we (or rather, Pat) know it!

The question invites itself. In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of a common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays, and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?

Better question: does it really matter if a country's people all listen to the same radio station? Methinks not. What happened to the free marketplace? What difference does this make to anybody, aside from 70-plus year old cranks like Buchanan?

The issue is not about whether people have common roots, but if they share common values. I know you're not a big fan of "Diversity is Our Strength," (which you inaccurately attribute to Dan Quayle) but it looks like E Pluribus Unum is out. Of course, a common language is important to facilitate interaction and communication between fellow citizens. But there is no reason why immigrants should be forced to abandon their native language, or any other non-harmful element of their home culture. Who are you to arbitrarily decide what works of literature, poetry, music, or art, are authentically American? Was there an election I missed?

By the way, Pat, there are plenty of places in the world where people speak multiple languages and do just fine. Officially bilingual Canada seems to still be doing fine, despite constant Quebecois grumbling. The citizens of Ghana include at least eight major tribes and anywhere from 250-580 languages (with one official language, English) and is considered one of the most successful countries in Africa. Somehow, they make it work, as does Israel.

As an aside: given that the top four spoken languages around the world include Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish, aren't we actually doing U.S. kids a disservice by demonizing bilingualism (to say nothing of the stigma we place on immigrant children through rushed ESL classes)?

Yet, today, Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a skirmish in a French-Mexican war about which most Americans know nothing, which took place the same year as two of the bloodiest battles of our own Civil War: Antietam and Fredericksburg.

And? Irish-Americans celebrate Saint Patrick's day, which commemorates a Saint about whom most Americans (including the Irish) know next to nothing aside from his love of clover and pathological dislike of snakes. Northern and Eastern-Europeans have all sorts of weird Christmas and Easter-related customs, traditions and folklore. Some elements of national culture are universal, others are specific to an ethnic or religious culture. Not only don't you not explain why this is so terrible, I'm dumbfounded as to what your proposed alternative would be. State-enforced church services, Puritan-style? Personal freedom means just that.

Christmas and Easter, the great holidays of Christendom, once united Americans in joy. Now we fight over whether they should even be mentioned, let alone celebrated, in our public schools.

Boo-freakin' hoo, Pat. This is the logical result of having a democratic state which includes non-Christians in its body politic, and which has no official church. You don't like it, try moving to England, Ireland or Saudi Arabia.

Where we used to have classical, pop, country & Western and jazz music, now we have varieties tailored to specific generations, races and ethnic groups. Even our music seems designed to subdivide us.

What? Only if you buy into the bogus argument that only certain kinds of people can enjoy or listen to certain kinds of music. How many white folks have listened to Bob Marley in the past fifty years? How many white teenagers listen to rap? How many non-Indians were turned onto Indian music through the Beatles? Who CARES?

...Also, Pat, come on now. Just how much Jazz have you really listened to over the years?

One part of America loves her history, another reviles it as racist, imperialist and genocidal. Old heroes like Columbus, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are replaced by Dr. King and Cesar Chavez.

Here Pat gets back on his revisionist and pro-Confederacy high horse again. Look Pat, I don't object to looking to history to provide role models. But I think we can do a heck of a lot better than Columbus and Stonewall Jackson. That isn't about loving or hating history but about looking it square in the face-- exactly what values do you think are communicated to schoolkids when you start praising the Confederacy? States rights? Please.

Pat continues in this vein ad infinitum. Frankly, the whole thing sounds plagiarized from his outrageous columns following the VA Tech shootings.

The European-Christian core of the country that once defined us is shrinking, as Christianity fades, the birth rate falls and Third World immigration surges. Globalism dissolves the economic bonds, while the cacophony of multiculturalism displaces the old American culture.

“E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — was the national motto the men of ‘76 settled upon. One sees the pluribus. But where is the unum? One sees the diversity. But where is the unity?

What chance do we have attracting immigrants to the idea of American unity when the image we present is of hysterical mobs ranting about the evils of foreign food or of "outsiders" speaking another language? When the clear, undisguised goal is not a (theroetically respectful) "melting pot" or a give-and-take tossed salad, but an out-and-out whitewashing? You want to make Asians, Latinos and Africans into WASPs. It's an offensive idea, and it also has no chance of succeeding. So get over it.

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