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Don Anderson

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I need help with a dilemma: What does it mean to be American? And Why does it work?

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Up-date to thread’s scope: (July 10th)

Thanks for all the comments, they have been very helpful.
I have sorted out my feeling on being American, it maybe a jumbled mess but it is working for me. And to avoid rehashing what has been said I’ll leave it at that.

But the large diversity of views here, and within America’s culture, politics, values, heritages, etc. I have to ask;

Why does it work?

By most standards we are a highly dysfunctional group, and should be a failed society.
But here we are a great nation, and by most logic that should not be the case.
Yes we are the home of the free and the brave, but also home of tyrants, cowards, passive, aggressive, moral and immoral and I could go on and on forever.

Americans are often labeled as racist and intolerant, if that was true we would not have more nationalities and different cultures than any other country in the world.
Being American is a lessen tolerance and that is something we can’t experience in heaven, but I feel the lessen goes deeper than that.


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Is American where you live, or is American a belief in freedom and liberty for all?

Firstly let me state I believe we are here to learn from experience that we can’t have in heaven. And recently I have had two events in my life that have me confused as to the lesion I should be learning from them.

My Background: I’m just an average lower-middleclass Midwest American.

Experience 1: I have been researching my ancestry for about a year now, and I feel pride with my findings. So far my ancestors range from English noble that came to America in 1633, to peasant framer and serving maid from Prussia (Germany) in 1820. No slave owners, only union army soldiers, fought for America in the war for independence, etc.

Experience 2: Many people throughout the world, now are fighting and/or protesting for freedom and libe

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    Jul 11 2013: Freedom is an illusion. There is an oppressive system in the U.S. but not in the conventional way, hence why most people don't notice it. The U.S. has not created the idea of freedom, far from it, so no I do not relate the U.S. to the idea of freedom.

    Being a United Statian (American is anyone originally from the Americas) is no different than having any other nationality, there is nothing super special about it that needs to be over celebrated. I think it is good if you are happy with what you are and if you like where you live then you will most likely be happier, so that is definitely a positive thing. But it is not something to be proud of because you did not earn it, just like you should not be proud of being a man or a woman. You were just born that way. Every person should define what it means to them to be from a certain country. But careful with nationalism.

    "Americans are often labeled as racist and intolerant, if that was true we would not have more nationalities and different cultures than any other country in the world."

    By "Americans" you are referring to the white ones only? Well, the U.S. is not a nation of whites, it is a nation of all colors. So the mentality that being white = "american" is so wrong. I believe that is one of the reasons people from the U.S. may be labeled as racists, because even though Hispanics are such a large group, they still called a minority. Even though some folks are born and raised in the U.S. they are referred to as Mexican Americans, African Americans, Polish Americans, etc.. what about the whites? Ah well, they are Americans.

    But no, the U.S. is not as tough on its immigrants as some other nations, including some other first world nations might I add.
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      Jul 11 2013: I respectfully disagree. Freedom is not an illusion. Freedom is real. I have traveled to too many places where it can be dangerous to speak the truth or to speak your mind. Say the wrong thing at the wrong time & you can go to jail for just that -speaking the truth. Freedom of speech is real.

      Freedom of the press is real. Many in the U.S.A believe that the press is the first line of defense against corruption. Much 'official' (& unofficial) criminal behavior is deterred by the press. There is much there to evaluate.

      In the U.S.A. we have the freedom to worship as we choose. We can feel safe at night & be free of fear in our homes. We can work at our chosen profession and find a way to make a better future for ourselves & our children. Compared to most of the rest of the world, our society is free of want.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4_freedoms
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        Jul 11 2013: That is called the illusion of freedom (illusion of freedom of speech, illusion of privacy, illusion of options). In the most capitalist system that has ever existed, enough freedom is allowed in order to make the system work. There is nothing grand or noble about it. It is oppressive in a less obvious way.

        The last few years there has been a few obvious examples about lack of freedom. Including international manhunts for people that only "spoke the truth and expressed their opinions". Or people that made stupid comments on their Facebook who ended arrested and beaten up in jail. You are being monitored 24x7.

        Also, I am not even going to go into the issue that the U.S. has taken down quite a few democratically elected presidents and replaced them with dictators around the world.
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          Jul 11 2013: OK - I guess I'll just call that my "delusional-manner" from now on. And thank you.
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          Jul 24 2013: Illusion or not most countries don't even have the illusion to laud to.
        • Jul 24 2013: the empire is strong, you can say anything... until people start to listen, or you have a job, or go to school
          criminals are good for the economy, they are a scourge to the weak
      • Jul 12 2013: say the wrong thing to the wrong cop you dead (specially you wrong colour). Tray, Hey TRAY.... You Around Tray? Martin???? Bobby? John??
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          Jul 12 2013: Yeah, Trayvon Martin. Who knows how that is going to work out. "U.S.A. - U.S.A. - got my gun now let's go play!"

          Too many people w/too many guns 'killing too much innocence. The gun does not make a man; the brain inside his head does that - but only if they use their brains.
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          Jul 24 2013: I don't see much of that around Georgia. It does happen but more so in other countries where liberty and freedom are not considered to be important.
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          Jul 24 2013: Given the Travon Martin verdict - I have a whole lot of doubt where the Florida system of justice is concerned! I am less concerned about the 2nd Amendment than I am about the ability of the State Courts in Florida to do anything consistent w/any concept of justice!

          The team that prosecuted George Zimmerman had previously won a conviction w/a 20 year sentence against a Black woman who fired a warning shot from a gun to prevent her abusive husband from attacking her. She didn't shoot anyone, but got 20 years. So the prosecution team in this case knew how to put people 'away' - they were a capable team. They were senior prosecutors w/an enviable track record taking on a high profile case.

          But here, Travon Martin was killed & his killer walked away free. There were/are questions about flaws in how the prosecution conducted it's case. I wonder how serious they were about winning that case vs. George Zimmerman. Were those flaws intentional? Did they want to win at all? Did the prosecution intend to lose that case from the beginning? Why would they prosecute if they intended to lose the case from the beginning?

          The gun lobby exists to protect a billion dollar industry: guns. The 2nd Amendment is just a fig leaf used to justify that. I have no problem w/ good citizens owning guns. But I do have a problem w/armed idiots shooting a 17 y/o kid dead. The 9.1.1. operator told Zimmerman to stay in his car & wait for the police. Perhaps the operator had doubts about Zimmerman's ability to control a confrontation w/a suspect? And maybe the Zimmerman prosecution should have made those doubts & questions evident to the jury?

          You don't get to conceal/carry w/o some specific responsibilities under the law. I have not read Florida's "stand your ground" statute - but I guarantee that nothing in that law gave George Zimmerman, while armed, the right to initiate a confrontation w/a minor who was acting lawfully.

          I'll take another block to finish this.
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          Jul 24 2013: There is no specific "legal theory" to promote this . . . but conceal-carry laws do seem to support the idea that there has to be a "Brain-to gun" connection. Licensed permit holders are trained in this. The law burdens the armed citizen with added responsibilities. If you walk around armed, you don't get to flash your gun in public, show it off at a bar, or engage in target practice on the public street. And clearly (see my comment above) you don't get warning shots.

          A Uniformed Cop would have had "Probable Cause" under the law to stop & at least question Travon Martin. Also under the law, Travon Martin would have had to cooperate with the officer & hold himself accountable. Not-so-much, George Zimmerman.

          Because George Zimmerman was NOT a cop. He did not have "probable cause" as a police officer would have had under the law. Travon Martin had the same right to 'self defense' that Zimmerman had - especially when Zimmerman was following him & calling him the 'N-word' in the hearing of the 9.1.1. operator.

          So how did this kid get shot dead - & George Zimmerman get to keep his gun? I don't understand THAT at all!
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      Jul 13 2013: "Being a United Statian (American is anyone originally from the Americas)" Awkward :)

      Others give us and reinforce our names. It stuck. There are hundreds of other names that do not really fit. How about the less clumsy "US Citizen"?

      Ok. Why not solve this age old problem:

      Third person singular indefinite pronoun "he". We have some awkward structures to get around this problem.
      o use "he/she" or "she/he" .. who gets to go first?
      o use "she' one time and "he" the other?
      o How about "it" for babies? Or people at the door: "who is it?"
      o How about making a statement and only using "she and her"?
      o Or inventing a new word like you did above: "shim, sher, .."
      o Use the Jane Austen plural. My favorite.
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        Jul 13 2013: The name was chosen for a reason, not surprising considering the sense of entitlement that united statians have, the name was quite fitting.

        People from Europe in general are called Europeans, same for Asians, Africans etc. But you know to be American, one has to be from the U.S.A.
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        Jul 24 2013: I like the US citizen expression.
    • Jul 24 2013: Hispanics-Spain= white Caucasian. Latin Americans may be more mixed with Indegeno American.

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