Sunday, April 7, 2013
Is there an American culture?
I think there is an 'american' culture.. at least as much as there is a mexican culture, or german, english, etc. It is a blend, of course, but it has its own identity. What is 'mexican' culture? Is it aztec? Mayan? No, it is a blend.. an evolution of spanish european, native indian, & catholicism. It has morphed all those factors into what we call, mexican. It is different than argentinian, or guatemalan, even though those are often lumped together as 'hispanic'. But really, the only thing that is really 'hispanic' is the common language.. & perhaps catholicism.
American culture is very similar. It is a blend of christianity, native american, english, mixed european, with lots of individualism & libertarian values. But imo, it is being overwhelmed by those who look to govt to 'take care of us'. We are continually evolving, too, & the current changes are not in the right direction for individual freedom. The culture of individual responsibility & personal liberty is morphing into an entitled, helpless, dependency, where the state is looked to as a nanny to care for us.
Mexicans have been ruled by tyrants, dictators, corrupt juntas, & just about every flavor of statist domination you can imagine over the centuries. They have NO history of individual freedom. I would not expect immigrants coming here to immediately 'get' what america is about. Most other immigrants have had to adapt to this idea, too. Some came here for exactly that: Freedom. Most mexicans who come here do so for jobs. A great percentage intend to return home.. this is a temp job for them, & they identify themselves as mexicans, not americans. Of course, most do not return home, but once the kids come, they settle down & get established.. usually in a mexican sub culture, as other ethnic groups have done in our history.
But previous immigration surges were different. Italians came here for economic prosperity & opportunity, & their culture morphed into the american culture, as did german, irish, english, etc. They came to be 'americans', & to identify with the new ideology. We had the mexican culture, too, which has had a large influence in the border states like tx, nm, az, ca. The mexican influence has been greater than other immigration surges in the past, if only because of the sheer numbers.. the existing culture has not had time to assimilate them, & they are not coming to be assimilated, but to dominate.. at least that is the result, if not the intention.
I like mexican culture. I went to a catholic boarding school in the 60's in Guadalajara. I live in az now, where mexican culture is all around, & flavors much of the culture here. I don't think that MY heritage should always be the one to take the back seat.. i don't mind celebrating other cultures, but they don't have to demonize mine to do so. That is a bit of a problem to me.
I think this argument can be applied both ways, yet it is too often a one way street:
Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures. ~Cesar Chavez
what is 'european' culture? The scottish are different from the greeks, & the swedes are very different from the portuguese. Many europeans are having a backlash over immigration, too, & theirs is nothing like the scale & scope of what is happening in the us. The french people are starting to revolt over the north african immigration, as are the danes, germans, english, & many others where other cultures are coming in but not assimilating. It is a bit of a defense mode.. wanting to defend & preserve their heritage from being overwhelmed by the incoming culture. We in the us don't have that problem as much, since our culture is historically, multicultural. But i think the disorderly, lawless nature of the current immigration mess is what most american citizens object to.
There is a mix of hawaiian culture, too. They have embraced a lot of the portuguese seaman into their own, as well as the english & japanese. Many native hawaiians are not sympathetic to american culture, but want to (understandably) hang on to their own. The numbers make that hard, too. There is also a subculture of hawaiian culture, just like any other. I have half hawaiian cousins on the big island, & there is a culture of 'menehune', mixed with catholicism, that opposes the big polynesian, kamehameha types. This is probably similar to the hopis, who don't identify as navajos, but insist on their own subculture, too.
There is no 'culture' in any land that goes on for long unchanged. All cultures are constantly evolving. Sometimes they are conquered by an outside influence, sometimes they are slowly changed ideologically from within, as when christianity changed european culture in the first millineum.
What sets america apart, imo, is tolerance for other cultures.. multiculturalism. That is the common denominator in america. Generally, we get along, & will have a guinness with the irish on st patty's day, have coronas with the mexicans on cinco de mayo, & lift our wine glasses with the italians on columbus day. We like chinese food, mexican, italian, greek, soul food, & just about any cultural delicacy we absorb into our own. THAT is my culture. It is distinctly american, & i'm proud of it.