Skip to comments.Election may define national identity (Grab one of the larger buckets!)
Posted on 10/23/2010 8:18:34 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The 2010 mid-term elections are fundamentally a debate over national identity. Amid Tea Party rage, talk of TARP and Obamacare, the clash over how we define "Americanness" is in fact what motivates many on both sides.
On one side is "Obama's America." The president has sought to invigorate national unity across ethnic boundaries. Obama's America centers on a unifying civic nationalism that embraces citizens of every background. From his recognition of the slaves who helped build the White House, to his defense of the right of Muslims to build a mosque in lower Manhattan, to his reference to families with two dads in his Father's Day Address, to his acknowledgment of religious non-believers in his Inaugural Address, to his belief that every American deserves access to health care, Obama places inclusiveness at the core of his vision of Americanness. This is the basis of much anti-Obama sentiment.
Another American nationalism is out there, one that is ethnic rather than civic. Its advocates see Obama's America as an existential threat to their exclusionary understanding of Americanness. Many on the right play on cultural, religious, and ethnic grievances to divide Americans from one another.
Those on the moderate end of the exclusionist spectrum indirectly encourage ethno-cultural divisiveness, but that rhetoric quickly grows more direct and extreme further along the spectrum. On the less extreme end stands Sarah Palin, who speaks of "small towns" as being the "real America." "This," she said, "is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans."
Characterizing some of us as "real" or "everyday Americans" means that others are somehow "not real" Americans. Palin says "real" Americans live in small towns, a stand-in for culture, values, and more ominously if indirectly, religion and ethnicity. Her language evokes the Klan's Anglo-Protestant definition of Americanness, another ideology that draws on traditional small-town antagonism toward the city, toward cultural change, and toward those defined as different. Palin's America hearkens back to a simpler, mythic time when Americans were-or at least seemed-more like one another, and when those who were different knew their place. She suggests that her political opponents reject everything good and right about that mythic America.
Some politicians have applied this exclusionary definition of Americanness directly to Obama, seeking to discredit his status as an American. Newt Gingrich characterized Obama's behavior as "Kenyan, anticolonial" in nature. He offered an intellectually souped-up version of birtherism, the patently false claim that Obama was born abroad. Birtherism has gained traction especially among Tea Party members precisely because so many embrace an exclusionary definition of Americanness.
The nexus linking Palin and those on the moderate end of the exclusionist spectrum to the open racists on the far end is the fear that America will continue along the path toward transcending its whiteness and embracing a fully inclusive national identity. Figures like Palin cloak that fear, talking of small-town values, while blatant bigots stoke that fear openly. The underlying theme remains consistent.
The anxieties expressed by this subset of white America represent a fundamental threat to our ability to be a successful multiethnic democracy. These whites worry that as non-whites become a majority, they will change America to a place that whites feel alienated from culturally, or, even worse, take revenge for the past by oppressing whites.
This is exactly the fear that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh exploit when they repeatedly accuse Obama of wanting reparations for slavery, something he has explicitly opposed. Similarly, Andrew Breitbart stoked fears of anti-white racism by posting a deceptively-edited video of a speech by former USDA official Shirley Sherrod on overcoming racial prejudice. Two Republican Senate candidates, Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in Nevada and David Vitter in Louisiana, used the same photo of young, dark-skinned, unsmiling Latino men in ads about illegal immigration designed to evoke fears of criminality. Angle also falsely claimed that two American cities (one of which doesn't exist) were governed under Sharia law. Some suggest there is a threat of race-based aggression against whites, exemplified by Beck's sinister attempt to link Obama to violent "Black Liberation" theology. Exclusionists would rather destroy the more inclusive definition of America put forth by Obama-one that invigorates the bonds between whites and non-whites and strengthens our sense of national community-than see their power diminish.
On November 2, Americans vote in the first national elections since Obama became President. Although you won't find it on the ballot, what's at stake may be our very definition of Americanness.
IMO, the idea of what is American has never been up for debate before... but thn again, we have never had an emeny of America in the whitehouse. time to take our country back from her enemies.
Just how many readers can the Glens Falls Post-Star
have? 15? 20?
I do not even remember what state it is in.
Anyway, it is obviously one of the many Marxist rags.
Typical load of codswallop from another leftist nut.
The site says it won a Pulitzer in 2009. As if that means anything these days.
A NY state paper. Why am I not surprised?
Between Saratoga Springs and Lake George in NY State.
Certainly a very good example of “Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach”.
“even worse, take revenge for the past by oppressing whites”............................................ Does he mean the legal Aliens that came here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s during the great migration? Were his grand parents some of the oppressing whites who ran from the Czarist’s Pogrom’s? Who were the oppressed and who were the white oppressors in this country in the past 5 generations? More Lib Dribble. Then again, Glen Falls? Glen Falls is the kind of town that Palin talks about. He has to ask himself, how is business in Glen Falls and who was oppressed there?
THE KOOL-AID AND PIXIE DUST HAS RUN OUT
“Some suggest there is a threat of race-based aggression against whites, exemplified by Beck’s sinister attempt to link Obama to violent ‘Black Liberation’ theology.”
Nah, Obama DID-NOT-LISTEN to sermons underpinned by “Black Liberation theology” for around 20 years... sermons delivered to him by his “former” mentor and spiritual guide — Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
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