What is America?
This question, and its corollary, "Who is an American?" seems like a minefield. Any answer you produce feels like it will blow up in your face. But answering it is vital to the moment.
“What is America?” Now, who am I, a Canadian of Dutch descent who merely spent a good chuck of his 20’s in the US for grad school doing opining on the nature of America? I am not a native. I am not an expert. But that aside, this seems to me to be a pressing question for the moment. I am not sure the answers are as easy or as obvious as they might seem. They are complex, and this is part of the problem. There is no easy answer. And in some ways, Americans themselves are too close to their own situation to get enough detachment to really answer this question properly. I am of the mind that the contradictions and conflicts in the possible answers hinder the nation’s leaders in their decision making. It also holds back the dissident right in its response to the regime. I am also of the opinion that this question lies in the background to the rise of Christian Nationalism. There seems to be a hunger to know the answer, and Christian Nationalism is one such attempt to plant a flag and say, “This is who we are.” So, we wade in to see if we can make a contribution.
The recent Hamas attacks in Israel got me thinking about this question again, in large part because of the intensity of the discourse. Politicians and political hopefuls are running to get in front of cameras and onto social media to make histrionic assertions like “Israel’s interests are American interests.” I was like, “What? Why?” I suppose that could be the case. But the least you could do is make the argument as to why this is so. A couple of examples, should suffice. A Lindsay Graham tweet:
This gem from Nikki Haley:
But, it seems that the opinions of Graham and Haley are not shared by everyone. Recent immigration over the past few decades has brought a sizable population of Arabs and Palestinians to American soil as landed immigrants and citizens. Their sentiments are quite different. They support the Palestinians and Hamas. And strangely enough, these differing groups both typically vote for the same party, the Democrats. This led to demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in New York City’s Times Square.
That got me thinking about the commitment in American foreign policy to support Israel. I put my thoughts together in a thread, making the argument that it is an odd combination of coming to grips with the Holocaust combined with the Dispensational Premillennialism common to many American Christians. With ethnic Jews voting Democrat and Christians voting Republican, this ensured a relatively strong bi-partisan support for the nation of Israel. You can read the whole argument here:
Is America an Ethnicity or a Land of Immigrants?
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