July 11, 2006


Why I'm an American ( Ruben Navarrette, 2 July 2006, RCP)

Just in time for the Fourth of July, a reader sends along this charming query: "Are you an American?''
I don't take offense. I assume this has nothing to do with the fact that I'm Hispanic, or that I often defend immigrants (legal and otherwise) against scapegoating, ignorance and bigotry. I figure this guy is just taking a survey...
Well, put me down as a "yes.'' I am an American -- a brown-skinned, Spanish-surnamed Yankee Doodle Dandy...
I'm an American because my sympathies lie with the little guy (especially when he is being pushed around by the big guy) and because I won't stomach bullies, foreign or domestic. The country is most righteous when it defends the underdog and shows the world how to be tough and compassionate at the same time...
I'm an American because I'm convinced that U.S. law exists to protect the rights of minorities -- racial, religious, those with a particular sexual preference, etc. -- because the majority can protect itself. And because I believe that institutions, if left unwatched, would often roll back hard-earned gains in civil rights...
I'm an American because I believe that the future belongs to the bold, the optimistic and the hardworking. And because I'm convinced that -- despite the insistence by some that sinister forces are undermining America's poor and middle class -- the direction of our lives is in our own hands.

America's First Modern President (Ruben Navarrette, 9 July 2006)
Nearly 100 years after leaving office, Theodore Roosevelt is more popular than ever. While biographers in his day sneered at him as a showman who was all talk and no action, he is now seen as one of America's most consequential presidents...
Worshiped by fellow Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Roosevelt is also admired by Democrats. Bill Clinton kept a bust of T.R. on his desk in the Oval Office...
Personally, I've always thought that the public's fascination with Teddy Roosevelt had a lot to do with his maverick ways. Elected with the support of the business community, he broke up unfair monopolies and pushed for food inspection and workplace safety laws. A hero for his exploits leading the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, he was also the first American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping end the Russo-Japanese War. And although he came into office at a time when the United States was expanding and amassing great wealth, he made his mark as an environmentalist and conservationist determined to preserve natural resources so as not to -- as he said -- "rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."...
Some of his thinking led him onto dangerous ground. According to Murphy, Roosevelt developed a concern over "race suicide'' -- the idea that, if the older-stock Americans didn't keep pace with the birthrates of, say, Irish Catholic immigrants, the privileged class could meet its demise...
Many historians agree that Roosevelt invented the modern presidency, where the man shapes the office and not the other way around. It didn't hurt that he had a legendary enthusiasm for life. As T.R. noted at one point, "While president, I have been president -- emphatically'"..
Rove picks up on that thread, writing that Roosevelt's life was "characterized by passion and zest and a drive to achieve great things.''...
I get it now. In that respect, T.R. was the very embodiment of America -- not just in his time, but for all time. It's no wonder that one still can't get enough of the other.

Navarette seems to embody the "Hispanic" voter we all hear so much about. There is much to admire about his optimistic can-do spirit and the generosity of his soul. His realization that T.R.'s powerful appeal comes from his passion, zest and "drive to achieve" is simply wonderful. I wish I had written such a great summary of what it means to be American. The problem is that underpinning his world-view is a deep distrust of the majority culture or what some might call "white America". The inescapable implication of his writing is that what he truly loves about this country is fragile and has had to be wrested from those in power (the majority or more simlpy, whites). Obviously, most people around here believe this to be an egregious misreading of history, but it is that opinion we as conservatives need to correct if "brown America" is going to turn red rather than blue.

Posted by Pepys at July 11, 2006 5:07 PM

Let's face it. Anglo immigrants expropriated 65% of the U.S. from the Indians, and 20% from the Mexicans and Spanish. (The 15% that is Alaska we bought fair and square.)

So, the Anglos forcibly took 85% of the U.S. from Navarrette's ancestors. Other than that, the dude's got no legitimate bitch.

We can talk about superior cultures and institutions until the chickens come home to roost, but we need to acknowledge these other self-evident truths. That is, if we really want to understand the Hispanic presence in American politics. Last time I looked at a map, the Mississippi was still not de Nile.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 11, 2006 9:28 PM

No. We (whities) do not have to get it. They do.

Otherwise they will always be the pathetic pawns of those that would turn them into victims.

If they wish to be men they must act as men.

Posted by: Earl Sutherland at July 11, 2006 9:55 PM

We Anglos are well on our way to minority status.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 11, 2006 10:11 PM

So, the Anglos forcibly took 85% of the U.S. from Navarrette's ancestors

Most of his "ancestors" east of the Applicachians assimilated volunatarily. Other large parts of this country were empty because even the Indians didn't want it or know what to do with it, or it was occupied by the losers in their wars. And whenever given a chance, from King Phillip's War to the "5 Civilized Tribes" joing the Confederate side in War Between the States, the Indians love of large scale fighting kept them meddling in European wars with an uncanny knack of choosing the losing side, and usually committing some of the worst atrocities in the process. White folk had good reason to hate a group who sided with the enemy and committed "war crimes" for sport. Cite any 17th to 19th century war where the loser didn't hand over territory to the victor. They didn't have their land "stolen", they threw it away.

Mexico controled the southwest less than three decades, even less for Texas, and no Mexican ever set foot in the areas now called Nevada and Utah. Any claim it had came from Spain "stealing" Mexico from the bloody Aztec Empire, which itself enslaved as much as it possibly could, and the boundary set in 1819 between the US and Spain. California would have gone the way of Texas given another decade, as Los Californios, having slaughtered the indiginous Indians, held Cuidad de Mexico in the highest disregard. If anything, getting beat by the US kept Mexico from splintering the way Los Estados Unidos de America Central did a few decades earlier. (For example, in 1851 the Yucatan, having declared itself neutral in the recent war, asked to be annexed to the US.)

(The 15% that is Alaska we bought fair and square.)

Explain why the Russians didn't steal it from the Indians and Inuit/Eskimo, or does laundering territory through the Czar or Napolean make it all right?

(As for "well on our way to minority status", that statement is just as wrong, but I don't have the demographics handy to deal with it.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 11, 2006 10:53 PM

Raoul -

Shorter version: There was a bitter contest, and the Anglos won.

As for the "minority status" thing, I was probably too flip by half. In part, though, it hinges on what the meaning of "Anglo" is.

The descendants of English immigrants ... the strictest definition of Anglo ... have long since been in the minority. (That's what the earliest resistance to those damnably inferior immigrants was all about.) "Northern European" descendants, including the literal Anglos, held the upper demographic hand somewhat longer. "All Europeans", including those swarthy Mediterranean types, are still in the majority. (In my own experience, "Anglo" has usually been applied to non-Mediterranean Europeans.)

And, of course, we Anglo males ... even under the broadest construction ... are clearly in minority status. We were once giants.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 12, 2006 1:01 AM

This gloom and doom approach to the reconquista is way off base. What the folk-enemy set misses (if anybody doesn't understand what a folk enemy is, read the above linked article) is that immigrants are not coming to America because they hate America and want to transform it, but because they want to join it.

The writer betrays himself as a hater of his country by his vicious attack on civil society. He tells us the he waits for the state, a Eupopean-style state, to wrest power away from the intermediate institutions which stand between it and the individual. He is ready to sacrifice freedom, efficiency and limited government, all to indulge his revanchist neurosis.

The history of immigration and assimilation is a history of successive waves of newcomers "becoming white," as the sociologists say, one group after another.

This business of anti-white racism is very puzzling to Americans of other than Anglo-Saxon stock. Just where do Irish, Poles and Italians fit in? How about Jews? Asians? All different kinds of Asians? I must count myself among the perplexed in this regard.

Seriously, what is to be the cut-off point between white and non-white? Are South Asian Indians white but Pakistanis not? How about Spanish Hispanics versus Mexican Hispanics?

For that matter, ponder the case of Raoul's Praying Indians--you know, the ones who read the Bible and wear pants. We have also the example of patriotic Americans of African descent. I knew a lot of these good men, more than a few, in the Marine Corps.

The Navarette essay is just a ho-hum leftist rant. It was the kind of thing we have come to expect from the DNC, going on about how patriotic they are, while they spin Marxist social and economic agenda.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 12, 2006 5:45 AM

For argument's sake, I'll concede Navarette's point about stealing 85% of U.S. territory and it's a darn good thing we did, otherwise, the territory north of our border would resemble that of south of the border.

People like this guy have no clue how it happened that ours is the greatest nation there ever was on this planet. Our territory isn't innately great because of its latitute and longitude. It's great because the white Europeans who were our first settlers set the tone. They over threw royalty, valued the individual and hard work above all. They built a society with just laws that apply to everyone, made room for all religions, races, and so forth, culminating in the finest document ever to be written.

Pioneers were encouraged to make their own way and thus the west was won ... and before the bleating about Indians and slaves starts, let's make clear that we are far from perfect, we're still a work in progress continually making corrections as we go along. still welcoming those who want to join us in the process.

Navarette should be encouraging his paisans to take control of their countries of origin and strive to make them as great as we are. No reason why they can't, after all they have all the same natural resources -- miles and miles of coast line on two oceans, rivers, plains and mountains, and unlike our forbearers, they have a model to follow.

What's missing, I'm afraid, is those white Europeans, they so disdain, to lead the way.

Posted by: erp at July 12, 2006 7:46 AM

TR came from the class of elitist Whites who promoted eugenics and helped create Nazism. There's no place for him in conservatism.


Posted by: oj at July 12, 2006 8:07 AM

How much of the total area of the US is made up by the territory bought in the Louisiana Purchase? Or did that get counted as stolen as well, even if it was stolen by France and not the US? I thought France was supposed to have been miles ahead of the rest of the Europeans in regards to relations with the native tribes.

Posted by: Jay at July 12, 2006 11:41 AM

The French "went native" to a much greater extent than the English or Spanish and got along well with the Indians.

The area of Louisiana was not really established at the time purchase, but was thought to be between 869,000 and 909,000 sq. miles.

Anyone interested in the relations of the Europeans and the Indians and the Lousiana Purchase should read Bernard DeVoto's "The Course of Empire". Excellent narrative on the exploration of North America.

Posted by: Jdkelly at July 12, 2006 2:54 PM

Part of that reason was because unlike the English, the French didn't ship their troublemakers here (or encouge them to come here voluntarily), and were more likely to be men without families. So "interbreeding" was much more common. Is also why the Indians sided with the French against the English whenever the oppotunity came up.

And Lousiana was Spanish territory by the start 19th century. The handover ceremony, in I believe St.Louis, consisted in part of hauling down the Spanish flag, running up the French flag for a few minutes, then replacing it with the American. That was the first time most Lousianans heard that the French had gotten it back. Napolean sold us stolen goods. And if we hadn't, Mexico would probably have tried to claim it just like it did the southwest and Texas and parts of Central America. (Which is why all the talk of reconquista is so grating. Ciudad de Mexico was the Imperalists first, grabbing up everything the Spanish abandoned.)

Another good book(s) on American geography is Meinig's four volume set, The Shaping of America although the last one (1914 to present) isn't really really necessary.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 12, 2006 4:33 PM

Ruben's problem is his ancestors had contact w/the frogs and spanish, not the brits.

The Brits would have left Mexico better off. I don't recall them really being in Mexico, but Spanish 1 was a long, long time ago.

In his mind, all white men are alike.

Posted by: Sandy P at July 12, 2006 5:25 PM


Good summary, but it was at Cahokia, IL. Interestingly, The surrender documents were signed by Meriwhether Lewis on behalf of the U.S. He must have been there preparing for the "expedition".

Posted by: Jdkelly at July 12, 2006 6:28 PM