Take The Country Back
At just 230-years-old, the United States is a fairly young nation, and the lineages of most of its citizens go back just four or five hundred years. That isn’t very much time. After all, China’s first recorded dynasty began more than 3500 years ago, and the founding of Japan occurred in 660 B.C.
While China and Japan’s long histories are full of rulers and emperors; the foundation of the United States is entirely different. The United States Constitution greatly influenced the country’s development as a nation. The constitution is, metaphorically speaking, the country’s DNA, and was designed to protect the consensus and rights of the people.
The U.S. is a land of immigrants that represent many different lands, cultures, and races. As such, it is possible that any manner of people could come to control the direction of this country. These people could be of any race, religious affiliation, cultural background, or belief system. That might be troubling for some to consider, but it is something that the country’s forefathers included in our beloved Constitution; there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
The ability for people of any race, group, or religious affiliation to influence the country is more technical than actual, however. After all, for the first two centuries of our country’s existence, the vast majority of its citizens were white with European ancestry. Naturally, the majority tends to decide the norms. Unfortunately, some of the norms established were slavery and institutionalized racism.
Considering these facts makes it easier to comprehend the culture shock that occurred on November 4, 2008, when Barack Hussein Obama became president of the United States. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, and many others have raised several issues regarding the President, but it’s more than that. There was a palpable, nationwide culture shock in 2008, followed by an aftershock after his reelection in 2012. The disorientation and confusion of many Americans could be seen and heard throughout the nation. Some of the rhetoric that followed Obama’s election is amazing, and the fact that it still occurs today is even more so.
“We need to take our country back,” has been a frequently used slogan since his election. In fact, when announcing his intention to run for president on Tuesday, Rand Paul vowed that, “We have come to take our country back.” Though Paul went on to say that he was referring to taking the country back from big business, big government, and other such things, I believe that he is making a mistake by using that slogan. Surely he is aware of its undertones.
One of the most noteworthy occasions in which this slogan surfaced occurred during a town hall meeting. At some point, a woman questioned President Obama’s citizenship and went on to insist, “He is not an American citizen. He is a citizen of Kenya.” She continued, shouting that she did not wish to see the American flag change and that she wanted her country back.
The woman went on to reveal that her father fought in World War II, but so did President Obama’s grandfather. She had her birth certificate in a zip lock bag and held it high while vehemently yelling that the President lacks one of the legal requirements for his position: American citizenship.
It’s safe to say that this woman was disoriented and very likely in the grips of a culture shock. Her spiel focused on changes that she just couldn’t process. Her rant was an attempt to categorize who is and isn’t a “real” American, something that many have sought to do recently.
Again, because of our beloved constitution, no one culture, race, or group will ever have the power to decide which of America’s citizens are “real” Americans. Due to the country’s young age and various laws set forth by our Constitution, it’s impossible to determine who and what is “truly” American.
Trying to define such things is akin to attempting to look at an infant and draw portraits that accurately depict the child aging into adulthood. It would be impossible to guess the changes in height, weight, and facial features that the baby would experience as he or she goes from infancy to adulthood. Even the best guesses would ultimately turn out wrong.
As scary as it may sound to some, being American can mean a great many things. Even if the majority of this country’s citizens are Muslim a hundred years from now, the United States would still be the United States. Its citizens would still be, by definition of their citizenship, Americans.
Of course, it is unlikely that Muslims will become the majority in the United States, but it is quite likely that people of color eventually will. Most people of color don’t want the country to return to the time when the town hall lady’s father fought in World War II. They don’t want to go back to a time when the majority who decided the norms practiced legal racism, or, worse yet, slavery.
It was only 50 years that nationwide laws gave people of color equal rights. As such, it’s rather illogical to imply that the Civil Rights Movement was part of some spooky conspiracy to get the first black president elected. Repeatedly insisting upon taking back the country, as if it somehow was stolen, is equally illogical. This sort of reasoning results from fear of change fueled by politicians who selfishly seek to capitalize on the fears, concerns, and insecurities of their constituents.
This situation is not without its irony, however. When it comes to politicians that are against President Obama’s immigration reform, Rand Paul is one of the most vocal. Furthermore, as previously noted, his campaign slogan is “We are here to take our country back.” However, if any group of people could legitimately claim the country as theirs and state a desire to take it back, it would arguably be Mexicans.
After all, the vast majority of Mexicans share around 90% of their blood with people who were in the land we call the United States long before any Europeans knew it existed. More significantly, a quarter of what is now the U.S. belonged to Mexico prior to the Mexican-American War in 1848. As shown below, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming were part of Mexico less than 170 years ago. How is it that the very people who rant about wanting to take the country back aren’t even its natives?