Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm American, too!!

I just heard a statement on Real Time With Bill Maher by republican strategist, Mike Murphy, that I thought was so offensive I needed to write about it immediately. It was said in the middle of a conversation and not much attention was paid to it. Bill Maher did visually react to it. You could see he took exception, but since the conversation was in full motion, he never had a chance to officially address it.

Let me set it up for you…
Mr. Murphy made a statement about something, saying that most Americans felt a particular way about an issue. It's actually irrelevant what that statement was. It's what came after that matters. The audience groaned with a clear voice of disagreement with the first comment. Bill Maher made a gesture, pointing out that they disagreed. The representative then said, "This is LA. Not them. The real America." Implying that people living in LA are not real Americans. What???

Now, I've heard these sorts of comments before. That those of us that live in and around NYC or in and around LA (for some reason other major cities, like Chicago, are never included) are somehow less American; less patriotic. What gives these people the right to say that? What makes them think that we are less concerned about this country, are less invested in its success, in its ideals, dreams, values?

How am I, we, not supposed to be offended, insulted, even angered by this? What is it that these people feel defines a "real American"? I can't help but find this extremely confusing and disheartening and deeply insulting. How can millions of people be flippantly discredited as true Americans simply for the fact that they live in a major metropolis? Or that they've been to college? That one really blows my mind. The term "liberal elite" is often thrown, hurled at city dwellers as an insult. For some reason, smart people who have gone to college and have chosen to live in areas with lots of other smart people have now become the "anti-American". Can anyone explain it?

Why has it become a bad thing to be educated? To have ideas and ideals that challenge our society and attempt to set a higher standard of understanding and giving and knowledge? That is a completely backward way of thinking. Shouldn't we WANT to become smarter? Shouldn't we WANT to seek higher levels of knowledge and understanding? I thought we were all striving to be better? Each generation should be smarter and more understanding and more tolerant than the one before. That is certainly the trend that's been developing up until this point. Now, all of sudden, it's anti-American to be smart.

So, let's break this down some. Let's try to examine what some of the differences may be that would lead one to believe that people in the cities are less American. (It makes me a bit nautilus each time I read, hear or think that).

City folk are college educated.
City folk have learned to live alongside many other cultures in relative peace.
City folk don't drive.
City folk are creative and self righteous.
City folk wear black and dress fancy.

Country folk are not college educated. (not exactly true, is it?)
Country folk often live great distances from other people. Mostly people of the same race.
Country folk drive trucks.
Country folk are industrial and hard working.
Country folk wear plaid and dress for work.

The real problem is that no matter how much I list what makes up city folk or country folk, we are all individuals. We are all completely different and yet exactly the same as each other. Everything is a stereotype. These differences are hardly true.

Just because we don't live on a farm, or maybe we don't own guns, or don't wear the American flag and maybe choose to drive cars that get good gas mileage, does not mean; I repeat DOES NOT MEAN we are any less patriotic.

The way I see it, the people who are accepting of others viewpoints and are open to conversation and debate, to ideas and moving forward, and unity and service to country are absolutely real Americans. This country was founded on the basic premise of live and let live. That's why our ancestors came here. They wanted to be exactly who they wanted to be without the fear of prosecution for doing so.

When you live up to that, then you are a true American. When you can accept others for who and what they are, then you are a true American. When you live your life for you and let others live theirs for them, then you are a true American.

Our country has been through many trials and many hard times. We have continuously become better, more understanding people as a result. We are generally growing to be more tolerant. It's not easy, but we're getting there. There is still a tremendous amount of hatred and bias, but it is no longer the norm. At least it hasn't been, but over the last few years, it's become more and more acceptable to hate. Conversations with a true give and take dialogue have disintegrated. No one listens. They just talk AT each other.

But I digress.

It's easy to make generalizations about people and to label people with quick definitions. That sort of thing can only get you in trouble.

However, with 100% certainty, I can say all of this about those of us that live in (and around) NYC and LA - We believe in our country and want it to prosper. We serve in our military. We vote. We are going through the same difficult times as everyone else. We are struggling to pay our bills. We are the working poor. We are homeless. We are jobless. We don't know what we're going to eat next. We have children to support and parents to take care of. We can't afford health care either. We don't want to be told how to live. We want our freedoms, too.

As far as I'm concerned, that makes us just as American and just as patriotic as anyone else. No?