What Makes You American?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by earllogjam, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. earllogjam

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    Besides being born in the USA what makes a person uniquely American?

    I was had a conversation with a Finnish friend of mine over dinner last weekend and he scoffed at the idea of America actually having any semblance of culture. He said most Europeans generally think our "culture" is a joke. He surmised that nothing cultural held our country together and the love of money is the only thing that people have in common here. The only "culture" we have has been manufactured in the pursuit of wealth. He cited Las Vegas and Disneyland.

    I had to think about this a while. But was wondering if you all had any thoughts on this. What do you think binds this country together?

    I for one think there is a very strong American culture because something definitely happens to new immigrants here that makes them very different from the people they left behind. They become American.
     
  2. SpeedoGuy

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    Have Americans ever been liked or respected for anything in Europe?

    Europeans were happy to have us help liberate them from the Kaiser's or the Fuhrer's forces. Then they wanted us to go away. Fast.
     
  3. oneguy67

    oneguy67 New Member

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    Do you think it's our celebration of the individual?
     
  4. rexcasual

    rexcasual Member

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    Your friend has a very shallow awareness of Americans. Breathtaking!

    While perhaps not as long or deeply developed as some European, Asian and other world cultures, Americans are a colonial expression of Europe, and have the most powerful and unique African influences on culture anywhere. Jazz???

    America is a land of opportunity and risk takers. That produces a colossal amount of crap, but also yields some gems and wholly original takes on culture. Many American writers, entertainers, musicians and artists are highly acknowledged around the world. American culture is a brew of many individual cultures and influences.

    Pop culture and mass media exports may be the only ones your friend is aware of, but he is off the mark if he thinks that defines Americans.
     
  5. eddyabs

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    Hey! I know for sure that not everyone takes a dim view of Americans. Here in Britain believe it or not most of us actually like Americans and embrace American culture within our own.

    I don't want to talk politics as that is a different thread that I'm sure has been done now many times before.

    I think right now you are best known for your entertainment industry, and that is something culturally to be very proud of.....

    Added to that, I have been to America a few times, and was welcomed warmly and kindly by so many of your people. I have a very good view of you guys.

    Also my Grandfather and my great uncle who survived the war maintained very strong friendships with the American servicemen that they befriended during that terrible time.


     
  6. joyboytoy79

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    No "individual" who truly celebrates himself would dare identify so decisively with any one group. "American" does not connote a celebration of individuality, it connotes a celebration of unity as a group. In fact, on the whole, our culture seems to be based mostly on the shunning of individuals as "oddballs" or "eccentrics."
     
  7. chico8

    chico8 New Member

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    The US will never have culture in the sense that Europe, China, Japan or India has culture. Their cultures took millennia to develop. South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and other former colonies are equally "uncultured". Somehow, people seem not to include these other countries in this argument.

    If the US can be said to have offered the world something "cultural" I would say it was jazz. Sort of a bittersweet offering though given it is rooted in slavery.

    Finland is what is considered a genetic bottleneck. There aren't a lot of foreigners there and other than a little mixing with the Russians and the Swedes, there's not a lot of genetic diversity. Such homogeneity inevitably leads to a rather tightly knit society. This is one of the main reasons that Scandinavia in general has such stable social democracies.

    To a lesser extent, the same can be said of the rest of Europe. Homogeneity lends itself to a national and cultural identity.

    The US will never be able to claim such a thing. Our roots are in every country of the world and while that diversity makes us an economic powerhouse, it doesn't allow us the same degree of cultural identity that Europe has.

    Those who emigrated and are emigrating now, have done so almost exclusively for economic reasons. A few have come here for religious freedom, but even in the earliest years of settlement, they were a minority.

    I do have to agree with your Finnish friend that America's unhealthy obsession with wealth is one of the least attractive aspects of the American psyche.

    America as we present it to the world, is mostly a myth. One need only look at the indicators of health and longevity to realize that we are the theory of evolutionary survival of the fittest personified. Those who are chewed up and spit out of the system are thought to have failed personally. In Europe, society would blame themselves for not having done better to help them succeed.

    Despite the fact that I'm a 5th generation American, the only thing that defines me as an American is my passport. My German/Finnish/Cornish ethnicity has as much to do with my cultural identity as the fact that I grew up speaking English.
     
  8. Principessa

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    Isn't it strange how nobody ever remembers the Marshall Plan?

     
  9. Guy-jin

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    My gigantic American cock? :cool:
     
  10. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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  11. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    Cliche and commonly accepted arguments but not very good ones. China, Japan and India didn't spring up magically all by themselves. It's funny you even mention Japan, which is so heavily influenced by Chinese culture. People say Americans stole their culture but so did every single other culture that has survived to the present day. We're ALL still stealing from the Sumerians. and I'm not just referring to the new Beowulf movie coming out. All cultures exist and are built upon other cultures. America's culture is exceptionally strong and vibrant because we have incorporated so many cultures and peoples and ideas into our own. More than any other people in the entire history of civilization, we have achieved a complete global cultural hegemony. I've traveled all over and you can't escape American culture, it is everywhere. Saying we have none is absofuckinglutely ridiculous, a manifestation of crushing inferiority complexes and "hey look at me!" syndrome.

    You do make a slightly good point about isolation. The same principle that applies in genetics, where small, isolated populations tend to experience far more genetic drift and become over time very distinct from the species as a whole, also happens with isolated cultural groups. This is why China, isolated for so long from the west, is far more different from Germany than Denmark is. But having a distinct culture doesn't make your culture necessarily better. It doesn't translate into "more" culture, either. How do you even quantify such a thing? To try and do so is absurd.

    The United States was born in an era of international commerce and global exploration. It played the single most integral role in ushering in the information age which in turn has rapidly accelerated the rate of globalization. Our culture, as a result, is not going to be as distinct as other cultures that developed in isolation. It will be rich, it will be varied, but to the ignorant, uninformed, or stupid... it might be a little harder to identify.
     
  12. sedated

    sedated New Member

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    As a Mexican... I can tell u that u Americans have copied some of our 'uncultured' traditions... let's say: "5 DE MAYO"

    Please read more about other 'uncultured' countries.. and u could find that those nice songs, rithms, food on the south of ur country came from Africa when u slave people from there...

    However... I think americans have the best of all the world, because ur entire country was made from people from all parts of the world, and each one of them contribute to made richier this new american culture.

    Making the comparison with Europe, they look more mature and their culture and in the way of think. Making this European Comunity they become ONE but without loosing their indentity. Economically they looks in the near future more powerfull than you guys... so watch out them very close hehehe

    Peace!

    Sedated

     
  13. Drifterwood

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    Junk food and Jerry Springer.

    Trailer trash and the KKK.

    Globalisation and WMD.

    High School massacres and pollution.

    Mythologising to forge a Nation.

    Ich bin ein Berliner.

    I have a dream...........

    Some of my best friends are American :smile:
     
  14. MidwestGal

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    Well I am a decendant of a couple Mayflower passengers (John and Patiricia Alden). My relative put the Charter in the Charter Oak (Joseph Wadsworth). Many revolutionary war people in my family tree including Aaron Burr who later became a vice president. His father was the second president of what became Princeton University.

    My relatives settled the county I reside in, in 1837. They set up churches, mills, had large homesteads.

    This is just the stuff I remember off the top of my head. I could easily dig up more.
     
  15. EagleCowboy

    EagleCowboy Well-Known Member

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    I was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. That makes me an Okie from Muskogee. Does it get any more American than that? :biggrin1: I am also a Native Cherokee indian. We are a sovereign nation within a nation, yet still have our own culture and heritage which took many hundreds of years to develop. We try very hard to preserve what is left of it.

    Many cultures came together to make what America is today. The results of which has given America it's own culture that is different from other cultures.

    But for the rest of you, what makes one uniquely American? It's the country that one pledges their allegiance to.
     
  16. simcha

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    On my Mother's Father's Father's side we can trace our American roots to Benjamin Franklin and beyond. My Mother's maiden name was Franklin. Then on that side we are also Native American, Cherokee and Apache. So we go way way back there....

    On my Mom's Mom's side we have the Jews and the Austrians who came here from Great Britain in the last part of the 19th Century. The Jews fled Byelorussia to London escaping one of the Czarist progroms in the early 19th Century. And the Austrians moved to London to escape war somewhere in the 19th Century. Somehow they all met in New York.

    And on my Dad's side, there's the story of late 19th Century immigrants from Italy and Poland coming through Ellis Island and struggling to become "American" in just a couple of generations.

    I feel American because I grew up here and having lived in Paris, France and having traveled Western Europe I came to learn that we do, in fact, have a distinct culture from the Europeans and the British. I learned that I was wonderfully American and when I returned to the USA I was glad to be HOME.

    I don't belong anywhere else. My family is multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-racial, and varied in its politics. Somehow we all get along and we remain a family, in spite of or because of our diversity. And I think that this makes us uniquely American.

    If any part of your family has been here longer than 200 years or so, chances are that your ethnic, religious, racial background isn't 100% anything no matter what your Grandpappy said... That's also VERY American.
     
  17. Love-it

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    America is a complex unification of dis-unity that has a base in our "anti-cultural" beginnings and as our country grew it adopted portions of other cultures, so that we truly have become a melting pot. I believe it is our lack of homogeneity that bothers "old world cultures" as well as our belief that we are better than everybody else rubs those who believe in their superiority the wrong way.
     
  18. Principessa

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    I once had a job where, on the first day of work I was issued a windbreaker, 3 lab coats, 2 polo shirts, and a sweatshirt. All had the museum logo on them. I jokingly remarked that I felt as if I had just joined the varsity team. Perhaps it’s like that for naturalized citizens as well. It’s like they become part of Team America. A perfect example of this would be how our country puls together after a tragedy. Whether it's Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake of 1989, or 9/11. We jump in the scull and row as one.

    Or maybe it’s as simple, as an unfoundering belief, in one sentence; The Preamble to the Constitution.
    We the Peopleof the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
     
  19. frizzle

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    Funny how Americans LOVE to drop that "We saved your arses in world war I and II".

    Hmm, both times you only entered because you was attacked. Both times you made money of and boosted your economy through arm sales, selling to both sides. And both fucking times you was either 3 or 4 years late.

    You did not save us, stop thinking that. By the time you entered both wars, it was already on the slope to decline. Fucking ignorance.
     
  20. ClaireTalon

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    It's the inevitable fate of those who have to do the nasty jobs: Publicly-displayed gratefulness usually can't be taken for granted, nor can it be expected. And even better, the consequences and side products of the rough work just keep on being shoved into your face on every opportunity possible.

    I don't think nationality attaches certain character attributes on people, especially in a society that is based mostly on immigrants, be it actual first-generation immigrants, or n-th generation. However, if you ask what characteristic that is commonly considered as bein American goes for me uniquely, I could say that I am what many consider to be the American dream: I started with almost nothing a long time ago, and am leading quite a charmed life now, a self-made woman, one could say.
     
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