What’s American Anyways?

In the past week, we saw the resurrection and death of another GOP healthcare bill, as well as massive failures across the board for the Trump administration in terms of focus and constructive action.

One obvious example of the discord is yet another social media war launched by the President, with tweets railing against the NFL. The rising political consciousness of athletes has been  assailed since former quarterback Colin Kaepernick  began a peaceful on-field protest a year ago. Some of the loftier discussions involve definitions of what constitutes patriotism. The Trumpbots advocate blind allegiance to tradition, with minimal consideration of different sociopolitical experiences of our country. Others view Kapernick’s kneeling as an expression of First Amendment rights designed to advocate change.

What does it mean to be American? The saying goes that actions speak louder than words, and the public and the office of President have been tested to back up their patriotism – with trial by fire, rain and torrential winds. Hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters have recently devastated states, territories, and communities.

Trump and his America have failed to be inclusive in their support of crisis operations. In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Texas is slowly on the path to recovery and the Florida Keys are opening up next week for tourism, despite 25 percent of homes being destroyed. News of progress has been muted, eclipsed by other trending topics, including the devastation of non-mainland American territories.

Texas and Florida have electricity and supplies. Puerto Rico does not. It took nearly a whole week for public outcry to turn into a collective roar, demanding that Donald Trump and his administration take action, rather than ignore the increased degradation of daily life for Puerto Ricans.

I’m sure your social media, news feeds and offline conversations have been filled with both NFL news and hurricane updates. But we need more media clarity regarding exactly who is being most negatively affected by the indifference: those whose skin tone is not found on the same color swatch as Mr. Trump (although in fairness, there aren’t many orange people).

It’s no secret that America has a race and “othering” problem. This administration is attacking sexual assault victims, non-christian religions, and pre-emptively filing waivers for the Jones Act in areas that support Trump and house his default residence.  Meanwhile, leadership held off on filing for a ravaged area full of brown people.

It’s time to hold authorities responsible and accountable for their lethal biases. People are dying from inaction and insufficient support. To be American isn’t a complexion, blind obedience to a ritual or speaking Midwestern English. Americanism used to mean welcoming and protecting freedoms, taking care of our citizens in times of crisis. It’s a shame that the occupant of the nation’s highest office needs constant reminders.


Young Texans Are About To Get A Whole Lot Dumber – And Your Kids Might Get Stupider Too (March 16, 2010)


Instead of galvanizing me to act (though I’m not sure yet what I can do), this latest news story makes me want to sit down and release my frustration via a good cry:

U.S. history textbooks could soon be flavored heavily with Texas conservatism

The item made me painfully aware of two truths of which I remained ignorant to this point. First, it seems that the Texas education system is such a large consumer of new textbooks, it is able, quite literally, to determine the curriculum and ideology imbibed by the rest of the nation’s students. And in the second place, the Lone Star State apparently has no regard at all for the fundamental U.S. principle of the separation of Church and State. Unhappy with what they view as the “liberal leanings” of our children’s schoolbooks, they have decided to cherry pick the facts they like, excise the ones they don’t. And most disturbingly, it seems no one is going to stop them.

Among the new conceptions of our nation’s history that students will be told to embrace:

1. “A greater emphasis on ‘the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.'”

In other words, less Bill Clinton, or the successful work of activists in creating awareness and containing the AIDS epidemic that threatened our populace 30 years ago. Instead, more Reaganomics, more Newt Gingrinch, more O’Reilly and Limbaugh.

2. “A reduced scope for Latino history and culture.”

As of 2009, Latinos represented a full 15% of the American population. That percentage is considerably higher in Texas. Nevermind that the State was once part of Mexico, Latinos will be marginalized in favor of the compelling influence of crusty old white men in the nation’s development. Tragic.

3. “Thomas Jefferson no longer included among writers influencing the nation’s intellectual origins.”

By the time I reached this outrage, I was tempted to start slapping anyone wearing a cowboy hat. Among the intellectual forerunners to be highlighted in Jefferson’s place: medieval Catholic philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, Puritan theologian John Calvin and conservative British law scholar William Blackstone. Two of these three were never even colonists, let alone Americans. I realize Jefferson, a slave owner, was hardly perfect, but it’s impossible to overstate his importance in the U.S. origin story. Believe it or not, I am wiping tears from my eyes as I continue to contemplate this atrocity.

I could go on, but I will let you folks read the rest of this insanity for yourselves. The good news is that a final vote to implement these changes will not come until May. There is still time to stop the crazy. I just need to figure out how. Any ideas? If Rosebud runs up to me in six years, insisting that Joe McCarthy was really just a misunderstood patriot/martyr, I don’t know what I’ll do.