Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Bloodlines Don't Run Deep Enough

By now you've probably heard of Kathleen Parker's column discussing who is a "Full-Blooded American." It was in the WaPo and a bunch of other papers, including the Jewish World Review. And it was a disgrace. Here's Popehat's take on it, along with a link to the article:

A small sample:
It’s about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots. Some run deeper than others and therein lies the truth of Josh Fry’s political sense. In a country that is rapidly changing demographically — and where new neighbors may have arrived last year, not last century — there is a very real sense that once-upon-a-time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity.

The entire article is racist. And shame on a Jewish publication for accepting it for publication. Jews ought to know all too well the danger inherent in letting someone define your nationhood, personhood or patriotism by bloodlines, your relative newness to a country, or your perceived “otherness.” Shame shame shame on JWF for trafficking in this kind of racism. Because let’s be honest. It IS racism. No one will ever question my bloodlines or my right to run for office in America, even though I was born and lived somewhere else till I was 8 and didn’t become a citizen till I was 18. Why? Because I’m white. Think about it. My Dad loved living in San Antonio where he claimed to be the newest immigrant in town. But you know what? He still got better service in a store than a 5th generation Mexican-American. How does that happen? If “bloodlines” and “commitment” really are the coin of the realm in America, then how does someone with 5 generations-worth of “bloodlines” still have to work to be considered American? In the same way, how does someone born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas, with a grandfather who served in World War II somehow have to prove his right to be considered American? How does that happen? Because the father who, shall we say indelicately, provided the sperm then ran off when Obama was 2, happened to be an African? Because he was a Muslim (albeit an atheist one)? Either way, even by the author’s vile premise, Barack Obama is still more “American” than I am.

Which leads to my further point: This article is not only racist it is un-American. After all, isn’t the entire premise of America E Pluribus Unum? From many, one. By its very definition, it means that new people, different people are integral to who we are as a country. The entire promise of America, the reason my family moved here and countless others have done the same for generations, is the belief that no one has a lock on the American dream by birth alone. That no matter where you are from, be it Plymouth Rock 10 generations ago or Guangzhou circa 2007, America offers the same dream to all. If you work, if you sweat, and if you throw in your lot with this country, its blessings and its bounty are as open to you as anyone. The entire concept of America as we discuss it in situations like these is anathema to the notion of “bloodlines.” Bloodlines were precisely the things that defined the Old World Order. The move, the push, the striving to reach America represented a throwing off of those once-immutable shackles that had kept people in their places for centuries.

One of the reasons Obama appeals to me, in addition to his policy proposals, is his understanding of what it means to be The Other on a cellular level. “As the child of a black man and a white woman, someone who was born in the racial melting pot of Hawaii, with a sister who’s half Indonesian but who’s usually mistaken for Mexican or Puerto Rican, and a brother-in-law and niece of Chinese descent...I’ve never had the option of restricting my loyalties on the basis of race, or measuring my worth on the basis of tribe. Moreover, I believe that part of America’s genius has always been its ability to absorb newcomers, to forge a national identity out of the disparate lot that arrived on our shores.“

Which is why we should be doubly vigilant and doubly outraged at any attempts to define Americans by bloodlines. It is an argument that, while seemingly supporting all of our long-held beliefs about “commitment” to country, in actuality unravels the very ties that bind us together in this grand experiment we call America.


Utah Savage said...

My mother's heritage is Choctaw and I think all of you are immigrants who were not invited and ought to give us our lands back or pay reparations. Other than that, I'm glad you and you family are here, the rest of them can go home wherever that was. We were here for many thousands of years before you guy showed up, tried to exterminate us and then made o concentration camp for us in Oklahoma, a very poor land for people from the south east coast. Then your descendants forced us to attend BIA schools and taught us to hate ourselves. Eventually we were able to pass, but there still exists the anger that never quite goes away. Yes, Lou Dobbs is an illegal immigrant as far as I'm concerned. When I say "you people" I don't mean you, my friend e the famous StarSpangledHaggis. You are welcome to stay.

Utah Savage said...

Your bloodlines are deep enough. But not that bitch that thinks her ancestors bloodlines are better than other late coming immigrants, that bitch is probably some cracker from Kentucky who thinks Barack is an immigrant who hasn't been here long enough to qualify to be her President. Her ancestors probably lynched people who were my native american ancestors and people who looked like Barack. That bitch can drop dead.

Sorry, you're probably going to disinvite me. I can be right savage if need be.