This land is your land

This land is your land July 31, 2010

The point being, of course, that claims of greater or lesser "American" authenticity are inherently stupid.

(And also, as a general rule, that it's a bad idea for anyone to try to tell New Yorkers that you're more American — or more anything — than they are.)

This "real American" nonsense is sometimes just innocently stupid, but usually it's a fairly nasty business. It's a way of delegitimizing other people — of suggesting that they're second-class citizens. Or not really citizens at all. Or not really people at all.

That's the way the phrase is used by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and the Tea Party. For them it's a chauvinistic call for the disenfranchisement of ethnic/religious/cultural/sexual minorities.

We saw that same tactic employed during Elena Kagan's confirmation hearing, during which "New York," "Manhattan" and "Upper West Side" were all used as synonyms for "Jewish." Several senators seemed to think this unsubtle euphemism would give them wiggle room to avoid accusations of anti-Semitism when they suggested repeatedly that "New Yorkers" aren't "real Americans." That way they could claim they weren't saying that Jews don't belong in America — they were just innocently pointing out that liberals or eggheads or unmarried women don't belong in America.

Anyway, since some readers may have missed the yeah-well-see-how-you-like-it sarcasm of the previous post, let me just post this:

Browse Our Archives

Close Ad