Wednesday, July 05, 2006

For All

Okay, so I'm a day late. I'm of the say-nothing-until-one-has-something-to-say school, so I didn't say anything. Here goes.

230 years ago, America's founding fathers signed a piece of paper meant to ensure and uphold the rights of the individual, decreasing government's intervention in the day-to-day life of individuals, well, mainly White men, but I digress. Religion wasn't supposed to unduly influence lawmaking, which would therefore hinder the rights and development of the individual. Needless to say, we've done an about face and are rapidly moving toward a Christocracy that threatens to ensure the rights of the Christian, irrepsective of race or ethnicity, unless you're an immigrant, legal or not, irrespective of gender, although many Christian churches still push male supremacy from the bedroom to the pulpit, and without regard to marital status, unless you're cohabitating or a same-sex couple, although some local governments are trying to purposely protect heterosexual marriages with express prohibition of legal recognition of same-sex couplings. My point isn't so much a God Bless America, flag and apple pie idolatry of all things Americana as much as it is frustration as usual, at the whitewashing of what it means to be American.

New York is often referred to as a melting pot, a soup, if you will. So is America. I've said before that the thing about soup is that all the ingredients, when cooked together as in a soup, eventually taste the same. Put carrots in a chicken stock, and they stop tasting like carrots -- they'll taste like chicken. Throw noodles in, they'll taste like chicken. Corn, poratoes, parsley, they'll taste like chicken. There's your melting pot. I've often thought that America is more like a salad, or at least that's what our founders intended. Although the salad dressing bring the ingredients together, you can still taste each item; the greens, the protein, the croutons.

I'd love for us to be like salad and less like soup, and I think we are. We've turned niche commemorations like Kwanzaa, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Chinese New Year into commonly recognized celebrations. We've even begun to recognize, albeit on a smaller scale, Gay Pride. But louder and louder voices are calling for a "soupifying" of America, with federal protection of heterosexual couples, increasing support for privatization of everything from education to art to public works, and idolatry through prohibition of flag burning and protesting at military funerals (and don't flame me -- protesting at any funeral is a lousy thing to do, but not necessarily something that needs to be legislated). Despite easily accessed information about the false facade put up by The Ozzie & Harriet Show, there are still those in power, and gaining power, that want America to be a Christian nation with men on top, women on the bottom, and no queers. That's just not the way it is.

I want America to really receive and embrace the tired and poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free. I'm not anti-American, or un-American, or quasi-American because I am not, and don't want to be what some say I should be. I am an American.


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