The Anti-Americanism of Hyphenated Citizenship
Take a look at all of the hyphens around you. If someone's traits, ethnicity does not lend itself to the mighty hyphen, the person tries anyway. Skin tone or color don't lend themselves to the use of the hyphen and when tried seems silly. "I'm a cream beige-American." Be honest. That doesn't have the zip of an ethnic adjective such as Hispanic-American. Even then, some ethnic adjectives don't work well either. Early on, in 1909, Teddy Roosevelt commented that hyphenated-Americanism should not be allowed to stand. The point was that hyphenated-Americanism erodes the very traits or qualities that make our nation one; that make our nation able to withstand attacks from external forces designed to overthrow our culture. From within, the hyphen accomplishes what armies armed to the teeth could never hope to win through overt attack. Among other reasons, Roosevelt said that it fractured the nation and it also fractured the identity and loyalty of the person thus hyphenating himself. What do we have today? Hyphens everywhere you look. Some say, hyphenated-Americanism is a point of ethnic pride. I say think again. The hyphen is a source of group identity that self-styled leaders of for-profit groups use to squeeze money from the individuals who feel they must belong for "group solidarity". For what? Be honest now. What group is oppressed in American today aside from the white male? He is discriminated against in job applications and for promotions. And, he doesn't have a group to belong to. Worse, none of his ethnic groups lend themselves well to the hyphen. Talk about oppressed, the white male doesn't even have the hyphen. Even if he did, I very much doubt he'd hide behind it. I say hyphenated-Americanism is self-defeating and it lends itself to self-profiling. It also surrounds itself with an aura of victimology instantly calling upon the other person to say, to think, or to sign in some manner, "Oh, I understand you have been so put upon..." with preferential treatment, government set-aside contracts, etc. The mind cannot help but recoil at the stigma associated with the hyphen. The consequence is unintended but there it is. For me, the hyphen isn't cute any more. It smacks of an anti-Americanism. Ken Hamblin says he has a bumper sticker on the door to his office. It says African-American. Under it, he has written, "Pick one." Yes, pick one. Don't let yourself be split by the hyphen. Hyphens weaken America. Hyphens weaken the person who has chosen to hyphenate himself. While I'm on that thread, the hyphen insults me just by you using it. Someone says, "Well, I'm a African-American. No body can understand what it's like to live the black experience in America." (circa 2006) The insult comes in across the board because Americans are letting themselves be defined by the hyphen, not by their Americanism. Morgan Freeman said it best when he said, "I am not a black American. I am an American who happens to be black." We saw that the terrorists didn't care about the hyphen on September 11, 2001. We didn't care about the hyphens. We were Americans. The hyphen is designed to divide us and to take away our strength much like the cutting of Sampson's hair made him weak. Hyphens divide us. Racial name-calling divides us. Yesterday, a man in Texas called me an Anglo. I asked what was wrong with being Anglo? He said, "Nothing." I said, "No, nothing wrong with being Anglo except that is not how I define myself. I am an American. I define myself as an American. We, you and I, are Americans. Our external enemies don't care about the hyphens. Our internal enemies use the hyphen to separate us." "Yes," he said, "we cannot let them get away with it." I agree. So, stand tall, be proud. You are either an American or a hyphen. Be an American! God bless you; God bless Americans; and erase the darn hyphens, now!