I Was Born American

Yes, I was born in another country of foreign parents who would no more become American than fly unassisted, but I figure that was an accident of circumstance.  What really matters is that I was an American in my heart.  I just had to get here and become one in truth. (And that, by itself, is an American attitude.)

This week while talking to a friend about a foreign SO, I found myself explaining that other people, in other countries, have a hierarchy in their heads all the time — who is powerful, who isn’t, what attitude is proper.  You can find it (if you know where to look) even when reading British novels.

We’re not like that.  Whether we were born elsewhere or here, Americans — those of us who are proud of the name —  are rebels, revolutionaries, something new under the sun: a people who believe people should be equal in their right to life, the right to liberty, the right to pursue their happiness undisturbed by either inimical neighbors or oppressive “betters.”

We have no betters.  We are American.  When I got citizenship I had to swear never to accept foreign titles of nobility.  I thought it was silly.  What title of nobility could compare to being an American?

I’m not saying that Americans are for absolute equality.  We’re not.  We’re however for equality before the law (and we want it back, thank you very much. Yes, IRS, NSA, the rest of the alphabet soup and Mr. “I got a pen and a phone” I AM talking to you.  Who are you to arrogate to yourself the authority of the people?)  And that notion, alone, has permeated the country and even in the breach it makes the humblest man feel like he’s able to stand up to the most powerful.  Because they’re equal before the law, and even when our law is corrupt, that equality of free citizens lives on in our hearts.  We can each of us stand tall, American citizens, unbowed.

In the same way, though I was born very far away, in a very (trust me) strange land, I never fit in there.  The hierarchy seemed wrong and contrived.  I evaluated people for what they did, not their clothes or their last name.  And though years later it would take me conscious effort to fully acculturate, the seeds were there.  I had a congenital inability to bow or obey; a tendency to roll up my sleeves and try to fix whatever was wrong, instead of just moaning about it; and a need to look after those people who were “my group”.  All I wanted to do was to shoulder my own life and do the best I could to the best of my ability and to call every battler striving along with me a brother or a sister.

I bought Stranger in a Strange Land, based on the title, because that’s how I felt.  Then I came here and found I belonged here, all along.  The day of my citizenship ceremony, after we came home, I walked out to the mailbox and on the way there it hit me “I am an American now.  I belong, in law as I always did in my heart.”  Then as now the thought is enough to bring tears to my eyes.  Thank you, guys, for accepting me as one of your own.  (And that total acceptance regardless of national origin is nowhere else as complete as in the US.  (Though some other ex-British-colonies come close.))

In Portugal I felt strange because I believed in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I believed in this, in fact:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Still do.  Those beliefs make me American.

To their defense, I pledge my life, my liberty and my sacred honor, in the full knowledge that, like those long ago signers, I might be required to give them up for the cause.

I have my scrap of flag.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Long may she wave over the land.  Long may she wave in our hearts.  The price is required of every generation, to keep this radical idea we call America going.  Our price might turn out heavier than we bargained for, but great things cost much, and what is greater than liberty?

The baton has been passed onto us, and it’s up to us to run with it, even if it means dying on the way.

We are a radical experiment, a nation not of blood and genes, but a nation of heart, of mind, of belief.

Don’t let it perish from this Earth!

Happy Fourth.

309 responses to “I Was Born American

  1. rawlenyanzi

    And now I present to you, in honor of July 4th, Hot Abraham Lincoln! (I didn’t draw this.)

  2. “We have no betters. We are American.”

    Got it in one, Happy Independence Day.

  3. I wish more native-born Americans felt the same way. I’m happy to have you here where you belong. =o)

    Happy Independence Day.

    • Many native-born don’t actually know what the alternatives are and make the opposite mistake of many foreigners: they don’t believe our warts-and-all news reportage; we have trouble seeing past their rouge and eyeliner to the underlying face. So it is that many (too many) Americans believe what the governments of Cuba, China, Russia and their ilk tell us about their societies.

      The sad fact is that far too many of our fellow citizens would not, given the opportunity, be — as comedian Craig Ferguson identifies — “Americans by choice.”

    • Many do. They are the ones ridiculed by ” ‘merica!” comments, or pointed at as rednecks, hillbillies or such.

      Americans may have lost there way by coming to expect government to provide a safety net, or wanting to restrict what their neighbors do, but by and large most still believe in those self evident truths.

  4. Of course you belong here with us, Sarah. We all belong together – in part because we fit no where else. Together we stand.

  5. Why I’m conflicted on the whole illegals thing.
    I know that if I’d been born outside the US I would be busting my butt to come here. If we had the livable space, the infrastructure, and an economy to support it I would say “throw open the doors, and welcome to you new brothers and sisters.” But we don’t and we can’t. On top of which it seems obvious that those will ill intent towards this country are using the relatively unrestricted flow of bodies to their own purposes, bringing in massive quantities of drugs, criminals of every stripe, and I really fear some few bent on acts of terror.
    Not going to dwell on that at least not today. This morning I’m going with my kids and grandbabies to the range to make some noise, and this evening we will sit around a pool and watch some fireworks. Tomorrow is the big cookout with burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and potluck side dishes. I supplied the meat, and someone else will cook. Life is good.
    Best wishes and a happy Fourth to Hoyt and Hun and all those who pass by here. And an early happy July 24th to any LDS who may see this.

    • What holiday is July 24th?

      • Pioneer day in Utah, growing up I spent my summers in Ogden, and while the 4th was a big day Pioneer day was bigger.

    • I am pro-immigration (DUH) but sane immigration. I had a plan — and a job offer — when I fell in love with an American. The thing is, if you’re the best in your field, unless your field is onion planting and even then, the offer will come from America.
      My only reason to oppose the unrestricted flow is that it CAN’T coexist with a culture of entitlement and victimhood. Make it so that people have to adapt, and won’t get brownie points for being “vibrant” and refuse benefits until 10 years of productive (as in tax paying) taxes in the US, and I’d say “let them in.” But if they come here it should be to be Americans, not to use benefits, claim victimhood and bring with them the culture that made their homelands a hell hole.

      • “But if they come here it should be to be Americans, not to use benefits, claim victimhood and bring with them the culture that made their homelands a hell hole.”
        Of course much the same can be said of people who move from our own east or west coasts into the heartland. Pity what Cali transplants have done already to your state of Colorado. See some of that in Alabama as we gain population from industries fleeing massive taxation and mandatory unionization. Of course we’ve been seeing a big influx from recent BRAC activity, but those are all military, so most welcome.

        • Jeff Gauch

          That’s the reason I oppose unrestricted immigration. Culture matters. Latin America is a hell-hole because the culture is strongly socialist. Immigrants from Latin America are themselves strongly socialist, poll after poll shows that they tend to support more government intervention. That’s why the Democrats are so desperate for amnesty, they know that they can’t win elections without massive support from minorities* and the support they’re getting in the current communities is inversely proportional to how well off those communities are. Bring in a bunch of socialists, knock the legs out from under the bottom half of the economy, and the Democrats have a chance.

          The good news, for us Americans, is that people can change their culture. Especially when it’s American culture. We’ve already seen hints of that in the Mexican militias standing up to the drug cartels. Most of them have people who worked in America at their core. As long as we keep the percentage of immigrants below the limits of our ability to acculturate them we can have the best of both worlds. Fresh blood to keep us innovative tied to traditions that we know work.

          *That’s why I’m not concerned about Hillary running, she’s not going to see the 97% support Barry enjoyed among the black community. Sure there are a lot more women than blacks here, but I doubt Hils would move the needle much past the 54% support among women Democrats get when they lose. Michelle Obama would be my nightmare scenario, but I think there’s already so much Obama fatigue in the country – and it’s only going to get worse as the media’s power to hide his idiocy wanes – that I think the name itself will be radioactive outside a very select audience

          • As with so many polling assertions, careful dis-aggregation reveals many interesting things. For example, when you stop looking at the category “women” and instead distinguish between married women and single ones you discover that the support for Progressive policies is almost entirely among single women (draw your own conclusions regarding policy effects, although there is a strong argument that the Obamacare focus on mandatory extreme birth-control coverage was pushed for political, not medical, purpose.)

            Further, when you separate out African-American women (whose voting seems determined far more by being African-American than being female) you gain further insights into what precisely is happening in the electorate.

            You would think this type of thing would be worthy of attention from a news media dedicated to informing the public in order to facilitate reaching educated conclusions but it seems primarily of interest in places like Fox News and anybody publishing Michael Barone’s columns. The MSM seems rather more like corporations’ official reports to the shareholders, at least whenever Dems control government.

          • I hate to break it to you, but blacks vote for Democrats in the same way that Communist elections break for Communist candidates. Even a WASP will get their votes.

            • Yes, but they won’t turn out in quite such numbers for another candidate. Same loyalty, less enthusiasm.

            • Jeff Gauch

              They vote overwhelmingly Democrat, but Obama enjoyed both a higher percentage of the black vote and a higher black turnout than any other Democrat. Take either of those away and we’d be bitching about President McCain and the disastrous civil war in Iran.

              Hildebeest is going to get the standard level of Democrat support among blacks, though she might pick up a few more points among black women.

            • And for much the same reason, which is why certain areas not only had more voters turnout than were registered, some had more than were eligible.

              And yet crowds at the polls were undetectable. They must run very efficient polling places.

        • This is what disturbs me most about our current Immigration situation. I don’t have a problem with immigrants–even illegal ones–that come here to work; the law needs to be changed make it easier for them to come here, and once here, to have the freedom to move from employer to employer at will (H1N visas are notorious for making it possible to abuse immigrants). These are the ones who will most likely embrace the American Ethos.

          But the Government isn’t getting these types of people to come here. Instead, they are advertising food stamps and other benefits! Besides being illegal, it’s encouraging the very types of people who are weigh down any country: those who wish to live off the hard work of others.

          As you point out with Californians, the problem isn’t just with out-of-country immigrants. I have often wondered how I could start an education campaign for people moving from California or New York or Latin America, and explain to them why the places they are moving are broken, and how advocating for what they had in the Old World will just as surely sicken and kill their new host land.

          (I have noticed that Socialist states propagate like viruses: they fill themselves up with Socialists, until the structure of the cell “pops”, and the virus Socialists spread to other places, infecting new hosts. It would be nice if we could figure out how to inoculate these hosts before the infection spreads…)

      • YES – it is when they don’t become acculturated that we have a problem.

      • Yes, you can have *either* a generous welfare state *or* a loose immigration policy, but attempting to have both is a recipe for disaster. (Honestly, I think the welfare state on its own is probably terribly destructive, but I’d never given much thought before to what it might look like without open immigration. . . . It might just work. Well, that and not subsidizing the societal cancer that is single motherhood.)

      • None of my great-parents that I know about were born here. I’m also pro immigration. My problem is that the illegals and even many of the legal immigrants from south of the border refuse to assimilate into our culture like my own forbearers did. They want to keep all of their traditions, language and culture and even continue to call themselves Mexicans and not Americans. That’s fine if you want to be a Mexican, please stay in Mexico. If you want to be an American, then embrace our culture and become an American. Seeing American schools banning students from wearing American flag shirts because they may offend Mexicans is beyond the pale and none of us should stand for it.

        • I cannot find it in me to find anything wrong with “America, love it or leave it.” If you don’t love it, you have no business being here. If you pine for another country, in more than the poetic way Irish pine for Ireland (but would never return) then you should find some place more congenial.
          As for illegal immigration — again, it can’t coexist with a grievance culture and a welfare state.
          I approve of immigration — but it should filter for those who want to BE American.

          • The only problem I have with the “love it or leave it” concept is when it’s used to shut down legitimate civil and governmental criticism. I’ve seen too many unthinking dolts toss it out with the intent to end the argument, so it’s a bit bitter for me.

            I have no problem with acculturate or keep quiet. I say ‘keep quiet’ rather than ‘go home’ because I have no issues with transitional workers or students or such legal visitors. I’m just not inclined to hear their solutions for our problems. But if you want to stay? If you want to be an American? Then be an American.

            • The only problem I have with the “love it or leave it” concept is when it’s used to shut down legitimate civil and governmental criticism.

              Yes. This was often the way it was being used when I was young, and so I have an immediate uncomfortable reaction when I hear it. I love the country, just not blindly.

              One of the things I love about this country is that the ability to criticize the government is protected. I am beginning to wonder if the present powers that be aren’t trying to find a way to curtail this freedom under the guise of various hate speech and offensive speech regulations.

              But, at least for the momen,t I can make that statement above and not fear a visit by authorities in the middle of the night. So I will sit with my mug of rum, my copy of the book for the musical and watch 1776 this evening and thank G-d I was born an American.

              • love the COUNTRY not the government. Governments come and go, but if you don’t love America, why should you be here.

                • Because you haven’t left yet? Or even more simply, because you have no understanding. ( A fact demonstrated already, in my opinion, by the fact that you don’t love America.)

                  • Most people who don’t love America think other countries are perfect. Our education fosters this illusion.

                    • Well, it is no secret that one of the things I don’t love about America is the present presiding pedagogy. Teaching nonsense is, well, nonsense. And in this case it could be suicidal.

                    • For the first sentence: idiots.

                      For the second sentence: I hate that.

                • “Love the country, not the government” is how ‘Love it or leave” is used here in Australia, as far as I’ve observed. It’s a very popular sentiment, and something of a litmus test to who’ll fit in.

                  Real refugees, I’m told, are also very grateful to be where they are (firsthand story from a friend who works with them), work hard to earn their place, and will tend to go extra miles to be productive, accultured, and viable members of society. They’re happy to learn the language and fit in because they know where they are now is exponentially better than where they’ve been.

                  The economic border jumpers are without question, the first ones to jump to race/gender related accusations to get away from more work / sue for more money, like to abuse the dole and milk it for every single cent they can get. They also tended to be the more vicious people to be around (rumor mongering, bullying, backstabbing, entitlement weenies and worse.) This friend noticed that the ones who tended to be in the latter group came from Muslim groups, and frequently from the Middle East; which is an interesting thing because we both observed that legal migrants from the same areas tended to be a lot more willing to fit in and learn to live as per the local cultural norms. (There were, she said some exceptions to this, but on a general basis…)

                  On a personal history note, my own great grandfather was a… refugee of sorts, in that his family sent him away from China for safety to escape local troubles (what they were I have no idea), but he was sent with some retainers and some wealth and connections to local businesses. He never went back except for an occasional visit, married reasonably well and had six or eight children. There’s plenty of interesting stories there but the people who’d be able to tell me about them are probably all passed away now!

                • mikeweatherford

                  That’s one reason the Oath of Service to the United States is to the Constitution, not the government or the people. The Constitution establishes how we will govern ourselves. The government is only the instrument to implement the laws that allow us to govern ourselves, and is transitory.

                  I’ve LIVED elsewhere (not just visited, usually quickly). Europe, Southeast Asia, and Central America are all DIFFERENT, not only from one another, but from the United States. I would rather live poorly in the deep south than as a wealthy man anywhere else. If our current GOVERNMENT doesn’t stop restricting my life as they’re trying to do, I may have to move elsewhere, and quietly “disappear”. I know HOW and WHERE I can do that. It won’t be as pleasant as I have it now, but it would be much less restricted.

          • I met one gentleman who is being helped in one of the many private local refugee programs. He is a South East Asian political refugee and has a graduate degree. (As our esteemed hostess knows, his degree may never be accepted here.) Right now he is working in a chicken processing plant while he works to gain proficiency in English. I am not sure to what extent his choice to become an American is shaped by the fact that his home country won’t allow him to remain in good conscience.

            • Being a refugee from the old country, or not being able to go back, is a perfectly good reason to learn to love America.

              My great-great-great from Ireland, he made the decision to emigrate along with his brothers rather… suddenly. Also departed seminary rather… suddenly. May have possibly done something to annoy the English rather… suddenly. Couldn’t possibly say exactly what, as the details somehow never seem to have been recorded….

              • Hmmmm. There’s a family story, no doubt pure fable, from my Mother’s mom’s side about rapid departures from Scotland and Ireland somehow being related to amazing skills with livestock husbandry. It seems every cow had twins and most sheep had triplets. 😉

                • Irish — the Maasai of Europe. At their heart they’re convinced G-d gave them all the cattle. So if any other people have it, they clearly stole it.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    One of the most “heroic” stories of Ireland was basically the story of a cattle raid. One Irish queen just had to have this bull owned by another Irish ruler. [Evil Grin]

                    Oh she timed it just right. The other ruler’s warriors were terribly sick and couldn’t take the field. The only warrior not sick had to face her entire army. Of course, He was a Hero!!! [Very Big Grin]

              • The last of my family lines on my father’s side to leave Europe left Ireland when the English made it illegal for those of Scots decent to make a living in certain professions. (the first on that side had disgruntled the crown and, having not committed a capitol offence, was given a land grant for what turned out to be swamp land across the river from Penn’s land.) On the other side the last were fleeing pogroms. I understand not being welcome in what was once was your home.

                • mikeweatherford

                  One set of ancestors came to America as part of the Oglethorpe colony in Georgia. They were members and family of the 200 Highlanders Gov. Oglethorpe hired to protect him from the “injuns”. Many of them married into the Native American Creek tribes, instead. Most were tinkers and traders, or ministers. My mother’s family came to the United States in the early 1800s when they were forced off their land in Ireland. They, too, have connections to Native Americans, mostly the Caddo people of Louisiana and Mississippi. I personally consider myself a highly-adaptable mongrel — a typical American!

          • “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” —U.S. Senator Carl Schurz

        • Many would assimilate, given the chance, a chance denied by our schools’ refusal to teach Americanism 101. I favour warts-and-all portraiture but think the warts-only curriculum is nuts. Yes — America is imperfect. What nation isn’t? We’re adolescents insisting our blemishes are bigger and blemishier than anybody else’s because we insist on using the 10X magnifying mirror to examine our reflection.

          • I was skimming through the “new and improved” AP US History guidelines. Instead of general guidance, there’s now a detailed outline of the victims’ version of US History. I’m going to see if I can get a full copy of the thing so I can start figuring the best ways to, ahem, add supplementary materials for those students interested in a fuller view of [topic].

            • Thank you. It is people like you, who care to see that what is really important will somehow be conveyed to the next generation in spite of the latest fashion dictates of the intelligentsia.

            • It might be appropriate, when first presenting the material, to point out to the students that everything in the texts was selected for a purpose and ask they consider as they study what that purpose might have been.

              It is never to early to teach skepticism of official pronouncements.

              • That may or may not be workable, depending on what the primary instructor has laid out. I usually slip it is as “if you’d like to get another opinion” or “there’s a neat book” or “this is not for everyone . . .” The latter warning seems to work best for luring 9-11th grade males into reading. 😀

                • So, a quietly murmured “I wonder why they thought you needed to be taught that” is probably about as far as you can go?

                  • I can push a little farther. Thus far none of the students have complained about my asides, and I’ve not raised any flags (or eyebrows) with the other teachers vis a vis my classroom work. Having the persona of a mild eccentric does tend to divert attention from one’s other activities.

      • Onion picking, not planting. Back when I was in high school minimum wage in the Socialist State of Washington was a third of what it is there today; but I knew Mexicans that were making $250-300 a day picking onions. If there is any demand at all for your skill, if you’re the best you’ll always be in demand and worth top dollar.

        I don’t actually have a problem with the illegals, themselves, while I haven’t spent time in Mexico or South America, everyone I know who has says it is a hellhole and the only smart thing to do is come here however you can. What I have a problem with is a) we are not guarding our borders, I could really care less about some tree planters and migrant fruit pickers coming over here. Sure they may drive wages down, but if I want to work hard enough I can do the same job and get payed the same as them (likely under the table, or contract piece work). It is everybody else that comes or can come across with them, whether that be drug runners, or people running captive sex workers, or enemies of the state and terrorists. The bottom line is we don’t know what we are letting in our country, and THAT I have a problem with.
        b)providing amnesty and giving citizenship to all those that snuck in here illegally. You want to sneak in here and work, and take your chances on getting caught, (and don’t get me started on how we don’t punish illegals, for many offenses that have our citizens serving hard time, being an undocumented alien is almost as good as having diplomatic immunity) fine. But you haven’t jumped through the hoops and did things right to become a citizen. Not only is that unfair to those who bothered to deal with all of the red tape to immigrate legally, but it means that you have nothing invested in your citizenship, and there is no reason for you to acculturate to American culture, or respect either the culture or your citizenship.

        Before someone says I want to treat them like second class citizens, nope, they aren’t citizens of any class and shouldn’t be treated as such. They want to come and exist in the grey economy, I’m told it is worlds better than where they come from, but they will have to take their chances, I’m not going to turn them in for it, but they don’t deserve any of the perks of citizenship that they haven’t earned either, and if they are caught they should be sent back, no questions asked. And if they are arrested for a crime, they should never be allowed out on bail, regardless of how minor the offense; how smart do you have to be to realize they are here illegally, they are undocumented, you let them out that door, they aren’t going to show back up for court, they are just going to change their name (or more commonly, just use another part of it, most Hispanics have at least two last names, one from their mother and another from their father, as well as multiple given (first, middle, etc.) names, they generally just choose one given and one last name to go by) and go right on living in this country illegally.

        /looks down/ who put this soapbox here?

        • The analogy I favor for such entrants to America is along the lines of: the young man who asks for my daughter’s hand in marriage is welcome as a member of the family; the guy who sneaks into the other daughter’s bedroom in the middle of the night and diddles her is something else all together. Demanding I accept both as family members in equal standing is adding insult to injury.

        • I believe we used to have a program to provide work visas for seasonal work.

          If Americans were willing to do the kind of physically hard work necessary farmers would hire them and they could get the jobs as onion pickers, etc.. If Americans won’t step forward and take the work, the farmers will need to find someone else who will, or go out of business.

          The same party that dearly loves the idea of raising the minimum wage seems to be perfectly so capable of turning a blind eye towards illegal workers. At least they do until they are assured that these heretofore cheep workers can be sure to be incorporated as good party voters and government dependents. Leads me to think they are more interested in keeping their hands on the power and their ability to control patronage then anything about which they claim to care.

          For those who claim that we should care more for those who are crossing the border illegally, and we are cold and heartless to insist that we, as a nation, need to control our borders. Nonsense. We cannot just open the borders wide, because of various real threats, including terrorism. We cannot fix those countries that people are fleeing in hopes of finding a better life here. So long as we fail to successfully control the borders, those people attempting to come in without paper work will continue to be victimized by the various corrupt petty government officials, brutal gangs, heartless traffickers and other human vermin who make a very good living ‘helping’ them along their way.

          Oh, shoot, sorry, you can have your soap box back…

          • We have several, I think they’re called the H series, H2B is the one I hear about the most; they’re gamed by advertising jobs (with no housing or transport) that are located up on the Nevada border in newspapers in San Diego.
            The folks who come in on them are, of course, provided housing….

            (Above example I found several years ago from a puff-piece in… I think it was the LA Times… where all I did was find out where the place doing the picking was located. All the information I needed was in the article.)

            • I remember seeing an article during the .com boom about Indian programmers taking all the H1B visas which was causing difficulty in the fashion industry. Apparently foreign models were in the same category as coders. Very odd, that.

              • Poked around a little more– 1 is skilled and 2 is unskilled. (Which, yes, means that a model is “skilled” labor, while building a house or running heavy equipment is “unskilled.”)

                • Lor, one wonders who assigns the classifications? Not anyone who has actually done the jobs. And then, to consider that these bureaucrats think that they can develop a system to rate job equivalency for pay purposes. Just more reason to be wary of governmental control.

                  I often read a magazine that is published for the regional Indian immigrant population. There was an article in a recent issue about the problem in India with unscrupulous people who take advantage of others by selling services promising to obtain H1B visas. This includes charging people large sums and bringing them over for jobs that do not exist and then abandoning them to their fate. (A somewhat cleaner version of what is occurring on the southern border.) Only recently have the two governments involved started to find and prosecute some of the worst of the offenders.

                  • I would guess that they class ag and construction as “unskilled” because it can be taught on the job, and that models were classed with designers or something else where because they’re “names” they aren’t really interchangeable, so they classed it as “skilled”….

                    Basically, end result of a lot of trying to fit stuff into categories that aren’t really meant to cover them.

                  • I don’t know, I would consider walking in those shoes a definite ‘skill.’

    • My difficulty on the Illegals question is that I find myself despising much from both sides. The Democrats want more “dumb peasants” they can milk for votes. On the other hand the anti-illegals do their cause no favors with rhetoric that reminds me of 19th century crap about the Irish.

    • Have yet to meet a single one that wants to be an American.

      Lots that want to be (other country) here, though; some of the immigrants are that way, too, but not so much the illegals.

      • “Have yet to meet a single one that wants to be an American.”

        A single one, what? If you are referring to illegals, well I have met a few who did wish to become American (and did in all but one case, which acted American, even in so far as paying SS and income taxes under a false SS#, and no they didn’t file for a tax return, that is the reason I happened to find out they were illegal), but yes, the vast majority, in the 99% range, have no interest in becoming American. Many of them are very clannish (tribal) and don’t really understand the concept of nationality at all. They are not American, or Mexican, or Guatemalan, or Russian; they are [family name] a nation is simply a plot of ground where they happen to reside. Feeling love or loyalty to a nation is a foreign concept to them.

    • “If we had the livable space, the infrastructure, and an economy to support it…”

      But we do.

      What we don’t have is the ability to support them with handouts (free medical, food stamps, welfare, free schooling, assisted housing, college assistance). If we eliminated all of that, the vast majority of immigrants that came would be self supporting and a boon to our economy. Get rid of the concept that someone working part time in the fast food industry should be able to support a family on that job and allow the market to dictate wages, and there would be more than enough “entry level” jobs for people to hone thier skills on. As for livable space – we have it in spades. Look at Detroit as an example – from a peak of over 1.5 million in the 50s down to 700,000 now yet the same land area. There are a lot of other cities in the same situation. We have a fraction of the population density of most of the rest of the world.

  6. Sarah, I was born American by chance. You became American by choice. I am so proud my ancestors built a country that makes people like you want to come here. Let’s pray and work hard to ensure we leave all of our descendants the same glorious heritage.

  7. This September is the two-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Fort McHenry, and of the poem Defence of Fort M‘Henry.

    O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
     Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation.
    Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
     Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto—“In God is our trust”;

      And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
      O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

    • This year is also the 100th anniversary of the invention of the home refrigerator — http://www.american.com/archive/2014/june/hail-the-unsung-refrigerator/article_print — making cold beer widely available to all men and women, regardless of their station.

      • Birthday girl

        and iced tea

      • Jeff Gauch

        What anniversary is it of the invention of beer one would want to keep cold?

        • The invention of love in a small boat beer is not an anniversary we want to celebrate.

        • The feast of St. Arnold of Soissons, patron of brewers and hops pickers, is July 8. So in theory you don’t have to sober up until this coming Wednesday.

          • Jeff Gauch

            And the local beer festival is next Saturday, so at that point why not just call the whole week a wash and stay camped out at the brewpub down the street. I’ve already asked and they’ve said they wouldn’t mind if I strung up a hammock.

            My boss, on the other hand, would be less than pleased.

          • And also my birthday, so y’all can have a few brews for me.

          • Randy Wilde

            Wednesday is my birthday if you’d care to tip a glass…

            It’s not really that hard to find an excuse to drink if you really think you need one.

            • Mine is Tuesday, so they can start on mine and have some hair of the dog on yours.

        • Many of us live in parts of the country where beer would spoil in the brewing process without refridgeration. From the beginning of an article in Brew:

          Controlling the temperature of actively fermenting wort can have a major impact on the flavor of the finished beer. Fermenting above the normal temperature range may produce excessive fruity-flavored esters or harsh-flavored fusel alcohols. I once brewed a batch of ale during the summer and allowed the fermentation temperature to exceed 80 °F (27 °C). The finished beer tasted like a batch of Juicy Fruit gum.

          The article can be found:

          • Ooohhh *look of understanding dawns on face* THAT’s where b@&#h beer comes from.

          • Jeff Gauch

            Refrigeration in and of itself isn’t a problem. There’s a difference between keeping beer cool enough to prevent spoiling – beer should be served room temperature, if your room is a northern European basement – and serving beer cold. The latter only serves to numb the tongue in order to cover for bad flavors or to mask a complete lack of flavor behind the sensation of refreshment.

  8. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


    • You know, first time I came back from abroad and was told this at passport control, I hugged the poor man and started crying.
      If it were now, they’d probably arrest me!

      • Probably not; the kind of swine who would arrest you wouldn’t say “Welcome Home” in the first place.

      • Birthday girl

        I used to have family living in Mexico City, whom I would visit every few years … when I returned, the officials always said “welcome home,” and it always brought tears to my eyes. As sad as I was to leave my family members at the end of my visit, it was such a joy to come home to America … so yeah …

      • I always liked hearing it when I was traveling back and forth from the Middle East.

    • Second that

  9. I was born in Canada of American parents. Plus my parents didn’t record my birth at the American embassy. You don’t how many times I have had to sign that piece of paper (four times now at my count) to show my alliance to the US. Whenever I go to Canada, I get the welcome back speech. lol Still I would rather live here under this Constitution.

  10. We are proud to have you, Sarah. May America live long and stand tall. God grant us the grace to survive the dark days ahead.

    (As a side note, I must mention, about half of the time when I think of your name I want to add “van”, as in, Sarah Van Hoyt. That’s Dutch, isn’t it? *Sigh* Our brains play weird tricks on us.)

    • Yup. “Van” is Dutch, “Von” is German/Danish, “Von und zu” is German, “di” is Italian, and beyond that I give up.

    • My full name is Sarah Marques de Almeida Hoyt. That de is the functional equivalent of “van” so…

    • You think that because in one timeline over from us that IS her name: Sarah van Hoyt–bestselling mystery author. .

      • Ah, I’m just occasionally tuning in the wrong history. Any idea who’s currently U.S. president over there?

        • I suspect it’s Adam Baldwin. Ask your local Stranger & Stranger agent for an up-to-date multiverse map.

        • Fred Thompson. Sarah Palin is his Veep. She made getting the Keystone pipeline finished a personal priority.

          • Randy Wilde

            I want to emigrate. Anyone know if the Gay Deceiver is taking passengers?

            • I was thinking the same, but didn’t say it…

            • Jeff Gauch

              You think our immigration system is a mess? Try and get an inter-dimensional visa sometime. I have no idea what a framto is, but the waiting list is 540 of them long. The situation isn’t helped by all of the tachyon-backs who smuggle themselves between the timelines trying to kill Hitler, Reagan, or Ray Kroc (I don’t know either).

              • Maybe they blame him for the shoes? There was that tempro-linguistic split where K became the default starting letter for any Englishish word starting with a hard “c” (k) sound . . .

                • Ray Kroc was the founder of the McDonald’s franchise.

                  • As such he was a major contributor to the befoolment of Thomas Friedman, for which service he ought be honored.

                • Jeff Gauch

                  It’s true that the denizens of the various Websterworlds can be a little…off, but I don’t see why anyone would bother with attacking the shoes. Sure, they’re ugly as sin, but they’re quick to get on and off, durable, and rather comfortable. And one would think that after all the work it takes to evade the S-TICE they would bother spending 15 minutes on Wikipedia.

                  • One would, but *shrugs* youngsters these days. Some of them actually don’t believe everything they read on the Supranet, if you can imagine that. *tisk, tisk*

      • All it would take was all of my ancestors taking off for Holland when the inquisition got real. Some collaterals did, including most of mom’s grandmother’s line. I suspect I’m related to Dave Freer through that side. The name in our ancestry is JUST too coincidental.

        • Ya know, that’s almost a little scary. My “real” family name is Anglo-Dutch, and the Red parents have found the neighborhood (used to be an island in the Zuider Zee) where Dad’s family name comes from. Mom’s Dad’s father’s family wayyy back were Jews in the Strasbourg area.

          • A lot of Jews from Portugal took off for Holland. Dad’s mom’s family with unerring ability thought France would be better. then Scotland. then back to Portugal. AFAICT the family converted/reverted at least four times in that process.
            Crazy? Well, that’s where the storytelling gene comes from!

        • Many of my husband’s family went to Holland– Mennonite btw. 😉 (or Anabaptist)

        • Sarah met my dad a couple of time. She told me the “Dutch” eighth of my ancestry, the Detters, had to be Portugese Jewish, he looked that much like her dad.

        • My ancestors were French Huguenots, and when things got a little rough for them (see The Three Musketeers, siege of La Rochelle), they ran away to the Protestant Dutch Cape Colony, circa 1690.

          Then,a little less than four centuries later, things started getting bad for us again (this time because of our skin color and not our religion), so this particular family member just continued the family tradition of cowardice and ran away to another free country, i.e. these here United States.

          To this day, I still can’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance without tearing up and throat closing with emotion.

          As for my surname: the French for “of” or “from” is de (de Lattre) or du (du Toit). My name means, literally, “of the roof”, but in fact it means “of the high place” because the family traces its roots to the Pyrenees area (a Huguenot hotspot). Because of that place of origin, our family motto is a combination of French and Spanish: Dieu et el Rey (God and the King) not Dieu et le Roi which is ironic on so many levels, for this atheist republican.

          Here endeth the lesson. Enjoy ye this sacred day.

          • I’m a true American mutt. My ancestors funneled in from all over Europe: Germany, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, that I know for sure. Probably others.

            I’m very happy to have grown up here, and at a time and place where the people I learned from were unapologetic of American culture. I’ve learned from various immigrants over the years, plus a few expats abroad, how very lucky I am to be here, and am very grateful to the fates for that.

      • As a mystery writer our esteemed hostess is known as Elise Hyatt. They are furniture refinishing cozies set in Goldport, Colorado, featuring (I will tell anyone who cares to listen) one of the most marvelous (albeit challenging) toddlers ever written – E – and two of the nastiest cats, Fluffy – one and Fluffy two.

  11. Try to make sure you’ll keep what you were given. You mean a lot even to those of us who never got there.

  12. I’m reading this in the lobby of the Embassy Suites, having breakfast. In the middle of a crowd. And tears are running down my cheeks and I was close to sobbing. Thank you. Thank you!

    I *am* a USAian,!

  13. Apropos of nothing, but has anyone given any thought to something like that MHI chapters for USaians (or Huns)? You know sort of like “I’m in the Blue Bonnets. We’re the ladies auxiliary (and reloading club) for the Longhorn Chapter of the USAians.”
    OK, I’ll get more tea and go back to work.

  14. I’ll let somebody else say it for me today:

    “Proud To Be An American”

    If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,
    And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
    I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
    ‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.

    And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
    And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
    And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
    ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

    From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
    across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,

    From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
    Well, there’s pride in every American heart,
    and it’s time to stand and say:

    I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
    And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
    And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
    ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.
    — Lee Greenwood

    I’ve said it before, but today’s the right kind of day:

    Welcome home, Sarah! Glad you made it!

  15. carlton mckenney

    If you haven’t read it see Ringo’s “Last Centurion” for some interesting opinions on the what and why of US culture.

    • I’m re-reading it, actually.

      • I do so every so often, and I still don’t know which scares me more, the things he got right or the things he got wrong. (mostly because I’m afraid he didn’t get them wrong, just missed the timeframe)

        • Yep, it wasn’t one of my favorite Ringo books the first time I read it, but I have probably reread it more than any other book in my library.

  16. Sarah, how hard was it to come here? The reason I ask is I think about my wife’s great grandmother who came over from Sweden at 16, didn’t know the language to start and the only person she knew was her uncle. That had to be terrifying but she did it. Uprooting your life and coming somewhere new and different where you don’t necessarily have a support system acts as a bit of a filter. The people who come to America have something different about them and that something is what makes this country great. This is why I’m pro immigration.

    What kills me is everyone who says I’m anti-immigration because I don’t want people coming here illegally. Every January first there is a line a mile long outside the American Embassy in Mumbai of people wanting to get their papers and come here. Why are they Less Than the people who are coming across the southern border? Isn’t saying “Sure, come on in!” a giant screw you to people like you who followed the rules and did what she had to do to get citizenship?

    Sorry for the rant at the end of your wonderful post. It just bothers me that we’re moving from a Country of Laws to a Country of Men.

    • I can’t speak for Sarah, but it sure wasn’t any picnic getting my husband his green card (including driving several hundred miles in a ‘stay off the roads’ blizzard) and citizenship.
      On the plus side, it’s the sort of experience that makes you appreciate the nice, helpful, friendly, polite folks at the IRS who actually answer their phones and the sheer clarity of the tax forms and instructions.
      And yes, I’m very anti-illegal immigration. I think an awful lot of folks who come here legally and their families and friends are very anti-illegal immigration. I think our politicians are underestimating just how strong the anti-illegal sentiment is in this country.

      • Seconded all along the line.

        • I’ve long believed — contra Nancy Pelosi — that those who enter this nation illegally need to be called what they are: line-jumpers.

          Line-jumping is something particularly un-American. In most parts of the world, throughout history, the privilege of jumping in line was recognized as an inherent right of the elites. In America it is likely to get you stabbed (which is a not inappropriate response to those who would deny their fellow citizens their fundamental right of first-come, first-served.)

          I don’t give a flying !@#!$ how deeply John “Do you know who I am” Kerry’s family roots are embedded in this nation’s soil, he is not American, his question amounts to a denial of American citizenship.

          • Jeff Gauch

            Hear, hear!

            These days being an American and being a Democrat are inimical states of being.

        • Kate Paulk

          Thirded. I really did NOT want to take citizenship with this President, but the timing of the green card expiry doesn’t work out. I’m going to have to pay out the big $$$ for the application soon.

          • Unfortunately, this is one of the results of the U.S. deciding not to have Kings & Queens. Sometimes the President represents the nation as whole, not his party, not his reprehensible policies, and not his plans and vision for the country however much we may abhor them.

            When the President personally awards medals to our soldiers, he represents the USA, not just himself.

            Another of the results of the U.S. choosing not to have Kings & Queens is that soldiers and officers in the U.S. military and new citizens when taking their oaths of allegiance swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and “that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same”. There is no oath of allegiance to any person, though soldiers and officers promise to obey the President.

            Sometimes the President is the greater of two evils and sometimes he represents the United States.

            • As soon as you become a citizen, you can begin to point out that you didn’t vote for the guy. Whoever the guy is, by that point. 🙂

              • As soon as Kate is a citizen she can become a dangerous insurrectionist like the rest of us. Yay.
                Kate, fricking get it done already, so you can vote in November. Sheesh.

                • Don’t worry, she’s probably already voted several times now. Not that she’d approve of whom she voted for mind you…

            • Kate Paulk

              Thank you for that reminder. With the personality cult this one is trying to infest us with, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that the President represents the USA and not his personal views.

          • There’s a deal where someone retiring from the military can have their paperwork “signed” by the President, or any living former president.

            All but one of the retirements my husband has been to this year (and there have been several– his command is a popular short-timer place) has had a Bush sign it.

      • hear, hear, and we’re still working our way through the process. Yaaaaargh! *sheds gray hair like a cat*

    • What kills me is everyone who says I’m anti-immigration because I don’t want people coming here illegally.
      That is by design.
      You mighjt note, the same folks who call you this, and push amnesty, are the same ones who doubled the fees to legally become a Citizen.

    • I got lucky and fell in love with an American, but I had a job offer (a college assistantship) ready to go at the same moment.
      In the legal sense, marrying was of course easiest, but not a piece of cake. We were at the mercy of the INS for five years.
      EMOTIONALLY? Well, I never fit in Portugal, but some things stuck. Portugal is TRIBAL. I still feel guilty for not being there for my parents, and being suddenly alone with my husband was very scary. Making that worse, we’re not… ah… favorite children on either side, and our marriage… uh… I have gay friends whose relationships get more support from their families.
      So it’s been Dan and I the whole time. It’s made our marriage strong as iron, but put us through some horrible straits when some disaster hit. Now it’s us and the kids. Same thing.
      Other issues… Americans are more exact and far more polite than the society I left behind. And Portugal has a built-in fatalism I had/have to fight very hard.
      Difficult? Yep. Was it worth it? Every way.
      Sorry this is sort of high-level. To explain all the different phases/difficulties of acculturation would take a LONG post.

      • Perhaps something for another day/another time, but I’m curious about this:

        Americans are more exact and far more polite than the society I left behind.

        Crass Americans wonder about details.

        • The funny part is hearing Portuguese discuss how much crasser Americans are. Because they only PRETEND to be polite.
          Yes, it’s a post for another day. No one here would tell a customer (size 7 at that) that she was ‘too fat to buy anything here.” and no one would dream of walking up to a total stranger and telling them they are something or other horrible. Well, not unless they’re crazy street people. It’s not unusual to have either in Portugal. As for exact, my family thinks it’s unfair I have to punctuate my manuscripts. “Don’t they have people at the editorial house to do that for you?” And no, they’re not joking.

          • I’ve seen the customer service thing, in Italy.

            This one, though, elicited the helpless snort:

            “Don’t they have people at the editorial house to do that for you?” And no, they’re not joking.

            Happy to leave it for another day, but I hope you’ll write that post sometime.

          • O.o Wouldn’t it be easier to write with punctuation than without? I’ve been assuming that the Elephant’s Journey took about three times as long to write because it was barely punctuated. Do they expect someone to put in the ‘a’s and ‘the’s also? O.o

          • I doubt any studies have been done on the issue of general politeness (although, as I type that out I vaguely recall reading about some over the years) but I would put money on the probability that such a study would find such attitudes as are expressed in that “too fat to buy anything here” remark are more common in Blue states than in Red ones.

            Whenever some twit tries to “put me in my place” I can’t help chuckling over the thought that my place is in America while their place clearly ain’t.

            • An armed society is a polite society? Which would make more freedom-loving states politer, after all. (I’m not a big fan of the red=communist=American conservatives thing.)

            • Look at these videos where they take some celebrity who is known for their looks and dress them in a fat suit, then send them around the city, and how the experience has brought some of them to tears. Always a Blue city.

              I’m not the largest person I know, but at 350lbs and just over 6 feet, I’m pretty hefty, but I’ve NEVER had any fat insults thrown at me (well, except for joking with friends). And ask Cedar and Sanford, I’m not an intimidating person, so it’s not like I would make people afraid to say anything.

              • Have you seen the videos where they set up some hidden camera in a diner somewhere and have an actor start making racist or anti-gay remarks, EXPECTING the southerners (It’s always someplace they want to confirm their bias), and every time, it blows up in the TV show’s face and the southern patrons call them out on their rudeness.

          • Interesting. Are you sure the Portugese publishers aren’t doing that now, adding English/French/German style punctuation to the flowing, seems to me like absent, punctuation of Portugese? The European Union banned the Spanish from making typewriters or keyboards with the diacritical tilde over the n, saying it was to prevent Spain from having any advantage over the other EU countries in selling keyboards in their own country, but perhaps part of some effort to encourage evolution into one language for EU?

            • Viel glük damit. The Eurocrats would have better luck getting the Poles to use the melody of “Duetschland Über alles” for their national anthem than trying to force everyone to give up their native languages (while paying bonus money to preserve tiny speech-communities like the Wends/Sorbs and Romansch).

            • Huh. *I* can put a tilde over the n: ñ. Apple cap-keys do that just fine. (Also é, ü, î, ø, å, as well as some nifty ligatures like Æ and Œ.) And that’s with an American keyboard.

          • Well, not unless they’re crazy street people.

            Was going to disagree and say that there are some My Politics Mean I Can Be Rude folks who do it… but then realized you’d covered that with this phrase.

          • The funny part is hearing Portuguese discuss how much crasser Americans are. Because they only PRETEND to be polite.

            Many mistake having the form of manners with having the actual content.

            Americans can be blunt, lacking pretentions. New Yorkers (as in the city), in particular, are believed to have an in-your-face style. You wrote about how the image of Americans is effected by the popular entertainment we export.

            I also cannot help but think that there are many in more hide bound cultures who find it very rude that we disrespect class barriers to the extent that we do.

            • Pretending to be polite? The essence of politeness is the superficial stuff. You can’t fake polite. You can be polite to fake any number of other things, but not the politeness.

              • The essence of politeness is the superficial stuff.

                Bless your heart.

              • Passive-aggressive is fake polite.

                There’s an entire branch of being a snot that involves superficially following the rules of being polite, while breaking the spirit in such a way that the other person has their nose rubbed in it– but can’t say anything, because you were technically being polite. Kinda like the old White Elephant “gifts” that were aimed at punishing the one you were gifting because they couldn’t work but they did eat.

      • Thank you. That was what I was looking for. I can’t imagine just upping stakes and going someplace without a support system. Six months in Arkansas was bad enough. I’m glad you made the jump. 🙂

  17. Randy Wilde

    Sorry, I don’t know how to make this a link.

    Oh, and Trigger Warning: Pursuit of Happiness

  18. Birthday girl

    My people first came to America in 1625, yes, their name began with Van. Others came shortly afterward, many different names from different European “paradises.” They proceeded to build this country from sweat and toil. In my dining area, where many people hang a reproduction of DaVinci’s Last Supper painting, I have an American flag. A few weeks ago, my biological sister left America for good to live in a foreign place, which she believes she will like better. I wish YOU were my sister, Sarah … and all others born American in other places. And may Heaven rescue our lovely land once again …

    • My first ancestors came here somewhere around 10,000 BC.. (no, seriously)

      Beyond that, it was the 1640s, then a lot in the 1700s. One of those particular ancestors has an ” O’ ” in front of his last name and dropped it. That ancestor’s grandson signed some little piece of paper that is of particular relevance to today.

      Last ancestor to arrive was one of my great-great grandfathers in the late 1880s. He carved a table on the boat on the way over. My Aunt still has the table. (he was a furniture maker of some note)

      • Well, I can trace my ancestry back thirteen generations on this continent — all of Dad’s ancestors were born out of this country but three of them in Canada — and past that there are a few women up the Acadian branch who, as far as the records can tell, appear out of nowhere on their wedding days.

        On Mom’s side they all immigrated from Ireland in the 19th century. One ancestor had a brother killed and another crippled in the American Civil War.

      • Birthday girl

        I envy you your signer! It’s also a responsibility to live up to … I have at least one ancestor who served in the Revolutionary War and others served in the Civil War, so participants in the big actions. But we have always been little people, yeoman farmers, so no signers in our lineage.

  19. Bravo, Sarah! Well said!

  20. Yakov Smirnoff said it as well. Only in America cane you come from anywhere and truly become and American. The closest to that I have seen (from what I can tell) is Australia, and we both are nations made up of people who were pretty much unwanteds, being trouble makers of various sorts (at least according to our “betters”).
    Glad you got here Ma’am. May you turn out to be our George(tte).

    • Kate Paulk

      The transplanted Aussie says that yes, Australia is about as close as it gets to America. Aussies don’t recognize anyone else as their betters either. There are differences, but that’s a long rambling series of posts.

      • Yeah, The differences are there, but some favour one over the other depending on things. I think Dave would have had a harder time of it if he had moved here instead of Flinders (just getting the visa likely would have been rough). But other things would have been easier (getting fire arms for his hunting, not being on an island off an island south of an island).
        Then again, who knows with the fools at Immigration. I know an Englishman who got his greencard without yet having a job, yet my land lady couldn’t get hers even though she already owns land, had renters enough to pay for the land and a slight profit, and being a horse trainer, and owning said horse ranch, her business would just be added gravy. Finally she is due to move come the end of this year. So who knows which way it would have went for the Freers

        • Kate Paulk

          It would probably depend on which set of fools at Immigration they got. I’ve had some who were good people, and others who were total useless bastards.

      • *grin* which this transplanted Aussie-to-be would be interested in reading.

        • Kate Paulk

          Oh boy… You can find some bits and pieces in my Mad Genius posts, as the whim strikes me. There really is a lot. And congrats on the Aussie-to-be-ness.

  21. Pingback: On being an American...from an American born elsewhere...

  22. My Lady Wife is watching GETTYSBURGH; a wonderful film about one bunch of “The Better Sort” getting their butts kicked on July 4th. It annoys me how long people have fallen for the “Confederates fought for States’ Rights” argument. They didn’t give a fat damn about States’ Rights; if they had they wouldn’t have pushed the Fugitive Slave Act. If the Northern States wanted to outlaw slavery, then a Slave in the North is contraband which may be confiscated from its owner. Releasing such property on its own recognizance may be bizarre, but none of the South’s business….IF they believe in States’ Rights.

    The Plantation Aristocracy wanted to lord it over the slaves, and over the poor whites, and any others that weren’t the Right Sort. It isn’t a coincidence that their Political Party is now the party of the Progressives and the race pimps.

    The Civil War was about eradicating a nascent American Aristocracy before it could metastasize. The victims were to poor Southern dupes who were bamboozled into taking up arms to defend the privileges and advantages of their self-nominated “Betters”. There is no hell deep enough for Jefferson Davis, and I am deeply suspicious of Lee.

    • You could nitpick at that movie, but, like the 4 hour theatrical film of “Hamlet,” it’s probably the only time anyone will ever do it, that is restage the whole horrible battle fullscale with CW reinactors.

      • On the third. The Fourth of July 1863, the Union Army at Gettysburg was I suppose trying to decide whether to pursue the ruins of the Army of Northern Virginia that they had smashed the day before.

    • Jeff Gauch

      The state’s rights argument can be demolished by the fact that the first wave of secessions occurred before Lincoln was inaugurated. They couldn’t have been in response to any government tyranny simply because Lincoln at the time had no power. They were driven by the realization that the Deep South had lost its political power – in no small part due to slavery – and that their way of life – an aristocratic lifestyle built on wholesale (almost typed “whoresale”) theft from entire groups (is there any other kind of aristocratic lifestyle?) – was going to come to an end. In an attempt to stave off that day of reckoning they killed half a million men.

      • They used the advantages they had built into the Constitution to control the nation for decades, and the moment it looked like they might lose in spite of the tilted field, they proposed to take their ball and go home.

        The Civil War was less about Slavery or “preserving the Union” than it was the North having decided to give the snots in the South the kicking they had been asking for for half a century or more.

        And having picked the fight and set the terms, the would-be Confederates have been whining about losing ever since. Rather than forcing them to abandon the Stars and Bars, we should encourage those who want to wear it to do so, so as the warn people that they are assholes.

        • “Rather than forcing them to abandon the Stars and Bars, we should encourage those who want to wear it to do so, so as the warn people that they are assholes.”

          Thank you, I had that tattooed on my shoulder when I was eighteen. 🙂

          • Then either you are an asshole, of an asshole talked you into believing that the Confederacy stood for something other than Aristocratic pretensions.

            The pretense that the South had a moral leg to stand on has gone on for too goddamned long. So has the pretense that the Democrats are not the party of succession, segregation, and the Klan.

            The Stars and Bars are like the Swastika and the Iron Cross; there are a few reasons for somebody who isn’t slime to sport them, but not nearly as many as people seem to think. Proud of your Southern Heritage? You mean you are proud of being descended from would-be aristocrats who saw nothing wrong in holding men in slavery? Or are you descended from the poor fools such men talked into taking up arms to defend such arrogance?

            You have a right to sport the Confederate Battle Flag. You have a right to sport a tattoo. But at the same time every one you meet will inevitably judge you for doing so.

            • Actually I got it because I was eighteen, dumb, and a rebel. But you’re welcome to judge me for it, and I’ll wear your a-hole tag proudly.

              I’m not aware if any of my ancestors were in the US during the civil war (other than obviously the Indian ones were) or which side they fought on if they were. I grew up around a bunch of boys from the hills of West Virginia, and some Tarheels from North Carolina; RES explains their views on the subject better than I could, and as he points out regardless of what Jeff Davis and some of those politicians in charge of the South believed, a majority of the soldiers believed and fought for States Rights. I’m certainly not going to claim that all of todays military members agree with Obama, Schumer, and Pelosi.

          • Your statement is ambiguous. Did you get a “Stars and Bars” tattoo, or did you tattoo the words “Rather than forcing them to abandon the Stars and Bars, we should encourage those who want to wear it to do so, so as the warn people that they are assholes” because, when you were at the tender age of eighteen, you were deeply moved when you heard these words?

        • Yeah because how dare they stand up to their Yankee betters. They weren’t paying their fair share either (17% of the population paying 39% of total federal revenues). The great fathers in New England of course knew what was best for them, they were just too stupid to lay back and take it. So let’s make them wear the scarlet letter. The great Washington daddy should do the same to all horrible individualists whobdare to stand up for themselves. How dare they think that they had an obligation to set up a government more receptive to their perceived needs. Stupid rebels

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I’m reminded of the reasons that the American Civil War is a Tar-Pit Issue. Perhaps we should avoid discussing it here.

          • Funny how those issues were tolerable when Buchanan was President, but one night in November the federal government becomes a tyrannical oppressor before Lincoln can even get to Washington D.C., much less implement a single policy.

              • Jeff Gauch

                I disagree. It is, at best, a case of periwinkle on blue. The only reason the vileprogs aren’t sitting out in political purgatory gnawing on metaphorical rats is because they’ve managed to convince minority communities that the party of Lincoln, Douglass, and MLK is chock full of racists while the party of the Trail of Tears, KKK, and Jim Crow is looking out for their interests. Our acceptance – tacit or otherwise – of those who would whitewash our Great Tragedy does nothing to help us.

                I’m not saying that Southerners are evil. Nobody should be held accountable for the sins of their father, much less their great-great-great-great-grandfather. But much like I can denounce Nazis without losing respect for an honorable member of the Wehrmact, I can – as Shelby Foote put it – “[acknowledge] that the Confederates fought bravely for a cause they believed was just…” while still calling out as evil who started the war.

                • Who started, yes, but wars are not that simple. I like to joke that my ancestors fought and died for the right to never have a say in government again. True, as they were fighting for the absolutist king against his representative monarchy brother. But there were other things involved: local loyalty (the North threw down for the king, and, well, do you want your land ravaged by the South?), fear of industrialization (which was being pushed in the South. Curiously now all factories are in the North) which would render what the North produced in cottage industry valueless, fear of a government of Southerners which would take their revenge on the North (and they did, boy did they), religion and tradition, which threw down on the side of the “legitimate king.”
                  Were they wrong? Oh, heck, yes. Was the cause they were fighting for vile beyond belief? Yes. But one thing we must know and remember if we are to turn this corner is that men don’t fight with their reason. They fight to protect their emotions. Which is why communists are still accepted in polite assemblies (No, of course, amid our number, but we’re a rabble and not polite.) Because they make the right noises.
                  And many centuries later, when the war is lost and it’s the bitter revenge that’s remembered, people emotionally try to justify the side of their ancestors. Let it pass. They’re not justifying slavery. We’re not Whoopi Goldberg who believes anyone wants to enslave black people again. They’re simply remembering the other reasons their people fought and hence justifying it. Here and now they are no less lovers of liberty and no less besieged than we are. And they don’t believe the Republican party evil — well, most of them. We have three our four radical Libertarians among the regulars. having been one myself in my early thirties, I sympathize. But they think every organized party evil. (The Libertarian Party is not an ORGANIZED party, you understand.) — or that the democrats were ever anything but racist.
                  So, blue on blue. Here and now, let it go. In the outer arenas where people ARE confused, there fight the misidentification of Republicans with racists. But here, it will do no good.
                  Even the founding fathers compromised, and maybe they shouldn’t have, but we wouldn’t exist as a country without them.

      • There is a different type of aristocratic lifestyle: when a society is under great external threat, and those who defend it have to be supported by everyone else (because there’s only enough wealth for survival.) Unfortunately, it tends to give people Funny Ideas TM and subsist long after it should.

    • I disagree: The so called Civil war was not over ‘Slavery’ nor was it over ‘States Rights’ There were many reasons for the ‘War between the States.’ As Lincoln stated the war was in order to ‘Preserve the Union’ I’m not going to start a fight over this issue, it’s a hundred fifty years old already. As one person noted on her Facebook page, and I assisted- the story of Paul Revere’s Midnight ride didn’t happen. Just a poem. However, a woman did do the ride and was successful in raising the militia so that the British were stopped. It was the same for the Civil War, many factors, errors on both sides. The German Socialist/Communists that joined Lincoln’s Socialist party after losing (But after causing Germany to move from states to one federal country) helped to move this country from nation states to one nation. Whether the change was for good or bad is still under question; but, it can’t be answered in ‘Lincoln freed the slaves.’

    • And yep we must have a different definition of states rights, the North most certainly did deny the Southern States the right to leave the Union, regardless of their reasons for choosing to do so.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Unfortunately, the “States Rights” thing gets a little muddy when you consider that the Slave States wanted Free States to force escaped slaves to go back to Slavery *and* succeeded to pass a Federal Law requiring it.

        Sorry Bearcat, that was a little hypocritical of them.

        • Sure it was, I was pointing out how hypocritical it was of the Northern supporters to claim that “States Rights” were inconsequential.

      • For many North Carolinians who left the mountains to fight in that war, States’ Rights was the issue. It sure wan’t as if those Appalachian-bred boys loved the plantation owners in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and further down — and they sure didn’t support the few families who had managed to make a go of plantationing in their own state.

        North Carolina is generally accorded to have sent the most troops and suffered the most casualties of any Southern State in that war yet it was next-to-last to secede (and voted against secession in the general assembly), probably only seceding because the secession of Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia made remaining in the union impractical.

        As with most such things, efforts to attribute causes to single factors is to grossly over-simplify matters. For example, most Northern versions of the history ignore whitewash elide the effects on Southern economy of Yankee-driven mercantilist policies which were reducing the South to its position pre-Revolution, albeit with Yanks rather than Brits driving the train. A tariff structure encouraging import of raw material while discouraging processed goods was not beneficial to the South.

        • Rob Crawford

          Sorry, there are few things I find more disgusting — and antithetical to what being an American means — than slavery. I can respect the idea that southern heritage is not something to be ashamed of, but I cannot respect any apologetics for the creatures who thought they were entitled to “own” people.

          Don’t care what taxes they had to pay, or that it made their — they thought they were entitled to treat people like livestock. That makes them Evil, as Evil as it’s possible for a mortal to be.

          (And, yes, I’m aware there were actually very few slave owners, numerically. The rest went along; supposedly living in the land of the free while tolerating enslavement. The rest didn’t bat an eye when the Confederate Constitution made legal slavery as much law of the land as free speech.)

          • Slavery has always been wrong, that isn’t/wasn’t the point. If it was, why did General Grant not release his slaves until 1869, just before he ran for president. He was a slave owner throughout the war ‘to free the slaves.’ Harry Turtledove had a very good book out on “What if the South had won?” There are a lot of sacred cows destroyed in his book. But, that’s not the issue. The issue is that the Civil War was one of the major turning points in the history of the United States. The country changed its focus after that and some of those changes were not good for the citizens.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              I know that I said that we shouldn’t discuss the ACW anymore but the Grant thing is a “half-truth” at best and a lie at worst.

              Grant had “half-ownership” of a small number of slaves and could *not* free them without permission of the other owner.

              But of course, the “defenders of the South” ignore such inconvenient facts. [Frown]

              • snelson134


                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  According to the following link, Grant own only one slave which he freed in 1859. However, his father-in-law had given Grant’s wife some slaves.


                • lonejanitor

                  Specifically, he owned one slave, which he freed in 1859. The rest were technically the property of his father-in-law, and according to his wife’s memoirs he did want to free them but couldn’t legally. In 1865 they were freed by the abolition of slavery in Missouri.

              • snelson134

                Oh, and we hung officers of the Wehrmact at Nuremburg for far less serious crimes against civilians than Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan inflicted on the South. I understand about Vae Victis; it’s dressing it up in shining nobility that turns my stomach.

          • I doubt your aversion to slavery is greater than mine own, which encompasses the idea that the greater harm done by the institution is to the slaveholder. Yet there are few more ancient institutions inhuman culture, and I find reduction of complex issues of the human heart to simplistic good guy / bad guy formula the most disgusting — for it is so often used to commit terrible injustices in the name of justice.

            It is a simple matter to sit here today, 150 years after America paid a terrible price to end that institution’s legitimacy (we haven’t eliminated its practice) in our nation, and pass judgement on the decisions made by those whose world was far different from our own. For one thing, we have the advantage of having not been taught from the ground up that slavery was in the natural order of things.

            There is an arrogance to proclaiming what one would have done in a world we cannot even comprehend, and there is much to be said for withholding judgement in areas where no judgement is needed and our opinions carry no cost.

            • To be clear: I composed that comment before reading the request to drop the topic and have no interest in continuance of it, but my comment is not on the War of Southern Secession, it is on the importance of a due humility and the importance of not opining on areas where one just flat does not know.

              For those not aware, I am of Jewish descent (present personal views not being relevant) and consider enslavement one of the milder mistreatments of my ancestors. Anytime you think yourself entitled to judge the cess pit that is human history you are putting your foot in it.

      • Yup. Unless you live on a desert island, those pesky things called other people always complicate the question.

  23. Happy Independance day, to all y’all!

    Sarah, as the wife of an American-by-choice to another American-by-choice, welcome home. Glad you made it!

  24. In a free country you do stuff simply because you can, and it might be awesome:

  25. I always took my Citizenship and residency in the U.S. for granted. Then, when I was 12, my parents got employed overseas, taking my brother and I with them. Western central Africa was a long way, in every conceivable measure, from rural central Maine. That was also about the time I started reading Heinlein, a confluence of education that profoundly changed my observations and thinking.

    A few years later and a move back to the U.S., and then to Japan simply continued and amplified the paradigm shifts. Then I joined the USAF for 24 years…..

    TL;DR version: Thank you for doing us the honor of choosing to join this country. We’re not perfect, but with more people like you helping us, we’ll get better.

    • Welcome pavepusher, you might have frequented here for a while, but I haven’t seen you comment here before, but I’m assuming you’re the same pavepusher from the Bar.

  26. Happy Independence Day! you have caught the real meaning of being an American. The spirit of adventure, responsible to the future, honoring the past, thanks for joining us.

    • Thank you for having me.

      • Welcome. Always remember “its a republic if you can keep it.”

        • That’s the problem with republics — they’re vary hard to keep; they spoil so easily. They’re almost as bad as souffles (although once you’ve successfully made a souffle it is usually fairly easy to keep.)

          • The Other Sean

            Did somebody miss the republic’s “best by” date? Is that why many Progressives act spoiled?

  27. I was born American too, just took a while for the rest of the world to catch up.
    Happy Independence Day, Sarah & all ye Huns!!!!

  28. Christopher M. Chupik

    Not an American, but I did celebrate Canada Day this week.

    My great-grandfather came to Canada from the Ukraine about a century ago. I am eternally grateful that he got out before the Bolsheviks. We need new worlds to escape the tyranny of the old.

    • It’s a busy week for freedom. 🙂

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Well, Canadians aren’t as always committed to freedom as we should be, but some Americanism has rubbed off on us, though most of us won’t admit it.

  29. Happy 4th, and we’re glad you’re here!

  30. About 1962, my ship went to Hong Kong, I saw people sleeping on the streets and alleys. China was broadcasting a open border policy. “Come home, no one will harm you.” The street people knew that there was food and shelter just a few miles away, they chose to sleep on newspapers and take their chances on the free market, work their way up in freedom. I have never forgot that lesson. You are welcome to share what we retain.

  31. I was watching the Capitol Forth. Strange to say, the room got mighty dusty when the fireworks cut loose.

  32. John C Wright

    Welcome home. You make us richer for being here.

    I wish the Americans who wanted to be Europeans, bowing and bootlicking and issuing orders with pen and phone rather than persuading equals through the messy glory of democracy, would just up stakes and go into those socialist Failure States, crawl into the past we left behind, and leave us — we who live in the present and make the future — and leave us, all of us, all the hell alone.

  33. Navy bootcamp passage ceremony uses this song– not the graduation, but after you’ve done the 24+ hour final exam that consists of running all over the base, doing drills, crawling through a simulated sinking battleship, doing damage control, fighting fires and generally running like crazy. If you pass, you trade your “recruit” hat for a “Navy” one.

    Less than two months after 9/11, and several recruits lost people, including a guy whose mom’s family had a big family restaurant in one of the towers. His mom had been on a supply run, thank God.

    That’s what I think about on the 4th, now.

  34. Well said, Sarah. Well said indeed.

    I agree with B.E. Sanderson. I have found it bitterly ironic that many of our first generation citizen understand those documents better than some of us whose family came here generations ago.

  35. Just wanted to say from over here Down Under… Happy Fourth of July!

  36. I’m not sure when your actual birthday is, because I’m awful about that sort of thing. But I’m convinced it is secretly the 4th, so happy birthday!

    • It’s nowhere near, but I’ll take it. 😉
      Note to self — at some point Luce will realize in the old calendar system, he was born on the 4th of July!

  37. I’m fairly new to this blog, but have been on the ‘Net since the days of the Backbone cabal (TINC). Have exited many a forum and one or two entire social networks in disgust as discussions devolved to flamewars or worse.

    I read today’s thread with growing unease as ancient grudges looked about to break out to new mutiny and was thinking, “Ah, well, time to move on.”

    And then something wonderful happened: civility. The hostess reminded certain attendees of the rules of polite discourse at this particular soiree and mirabile visu, the conversation returned to sharing ancestral adventures, the pride of citizenship, and the joys of old Sesame Street. Bliss!

  38. Very well said, indeed. I’m another “American by choice”. Like you, I feel at home here. Unlike you, I didn’t know the right words to describe why.
    Thank you.