Re: "Two meanings in "american"

Sun, 19 Feb 1995 18:17:24 -0700

> On Sun, 19 Feb 1995, Bret Diamond wrote:
> > Sometimes I really think that we over-analyze things... At the
> > risk of being politically incorrect, might I suggest that we call
> > ourselves "Americans" simply because it sounds a hell of a lot better than
> > "United Statesians?!" Anybody?
> >
> I agree that United Statesians sounds worse, but the problem here
> isn't with how it sounds. It is a matter of identity. Any one in the
> western hemisphere has some right to the name American, yet we arrogantly
> claim it for ourselves and subconciously rule them out of that category.
> It is seen as yet another ignorant infraction of and already ethnocentri
> society. People are proud of their identity. It gives them more power
> th:OZN
> &\!EX`0?G[Orvf[u
A practical matter is usually omitted from this debate: we are the only
country, to my knowledge, which actually incorporates the word "America"
into the name of the nation, whereas both Mexico and Brazil formerly also
used "The United States of ..." (Does Mexico still?).
One gets into this treacherous terrain constantly in Latin America. My
problem with the common solution, "I'm North American," is that I'm *not*
Canadian or Mexican. I opt for using American, and deem the ensuing
harangues to be constructive enough to justify the potential offense.
When I use American in a broader sense, I usually make that specific,
i.e. "We are all Americans - in the Pan American sense."
There are two reasons I've dusted off this censored term:
1) I think it's important to assume "responsibility" for being Americans.
Back in the 1980s in Nicaragua, so many Americans said they were
Canadians that some Nicaraguans wouldn't even believe you *were* American
if you possessed what they considered a progressive outlook. I think that
the term "North American" obfuscates and evades the issue.
2) Just because we hail from an imperialistic nation doesn't mean we
should not be "allowed" (in PC terms) a name. It's the same problem, for
example, of "white" ethnicity being seen as neutral or non-existent: it
can generate more problems than it resolves in the long run.

Sarah Hautzinger