Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Hubris of First-Generation Americans

Last night on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, they had an interview with Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Wangari Maathai. The small size of her accomplishment in getting women in Third World countries to plant trees (about 2 per month per woman) have been dealt with elsewhere. And there was a brief segment where she stated she’d been “taken out of context” with her statement that white men had created the AIDS virus to exterminate blacks (well, that‘s a start!). What irks me is her attitude that having gone to school in America, she understands what it is to be an American! How utterly presumptuous!
Speaking as a Twelfth-Generation American, I know how silly that statement is. Maybe I can inform your opinion by having you consider the First-Generation Americans in your life. Several public figures may jump out at you. Say Ah-nold of the Right and George Soros of the Left. You’re likely to think one of those is full of baloney! But they are far from being alone. Among my friends I could name several First-Generation Americans: Zita, Peter the Painter, Bernice, Ecke, Doran etc. etc.
America has been very, very good to all of them! But have they been good back? In the crucial way of considering what it took to create the Freedom they so take for granted? Hardly. While it would be considered poor manners, if I were to take a survey of those five, I’d bet even money that I, alone, have donated more pints of blood then those five combined. They are likely to do symbolic things. I can see the women wearing colored ribbons to “support” causes. But anonymously put themselves on the front lines? Not from anything they have said. And they are full of opinions and would have been likely to brag of their contributions. My father did more to free the world of tyranny than they can even dream of, but he also donated gallons and gallons of blood to the Red Cross. That is a simple indicator of truly being an American. Do you do your part for the Greater Good? In my experience, First-Generation Americans are too enamored of the freedom they’ve been given to have gotten that far! They remind me of teenagers. I remember a bumper sticker that captured the thought so well, “Hire A Teenager - Get Him While He Still Knows Everything!”.


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