View Poll Results: Hyphenated Americans: Valid, or Invalid?

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  • I am AMERICAN and believe this notion is VALID.

    91 44.39%
  • I am EUROPEAN and believe this notion is VALID.

    30 14.63%
  • I am AMERICAN and believe this notion is INVALID.

    76 37.07%
  • I am EUROPEAN and believe this notion is INVALID.

    16 7.80%
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Thread: Hyphenated Americanism

  1. #1
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    Hyphenated Americanism

    Former president Teddy Roosevelt had this say about what he called hyphenated Americanism:

    There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all. This is just as true of the man who puts "native" before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else.
    [More]

    In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag ... and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language. And we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is a loyalty to the American people.
    [More]

    These famous speeches were made in a particular context: the US was beginning to flex its muscles as an interventionist world power, international communism was on the rise, and the first world war was on the horizon. In this time of great political upheaval, Roosevelt's remarks were directed primarily to Americans who maintained a dual political allegiance.

    Today, however, the term "hyphenated American" is sometimes used for any American who feels a strong cultural affinity for his or her Germanic (or other) heritage.

    What do you think about using this term for Americans who identify culturally with their legacy (European) Germanic heritage? Is it legitimate to consider oneself American by citizenship, but German or English or Dutch by culture and mentality?
    Last edited by Siegmund; Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 at 02:28 PM. Reason: Typo

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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    Quote Originally Posted by Siegmund
    Is it legitimate to consider oneself American by citizenship, but German or English or Dutch by culture and mentality?
    I'm not an American, but I do indeed consider it legitimate, even desirable, considering the racial and ethnic hodgepodge the USA has become. The alternative seems racial/ethnic disintegration and blending with lower peoples.

    The same phenomenon is on the rise here in the Netherlands, by the way; I have already heard talk of Turkish "Dutchmen", Moroccan "Dutchmen", etc.

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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    I agree with Teddy. Needlessly divisive, potentially destructive.
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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    Well, I come from Cincinnati, a town like many others in the midwest that is very German. The average person here is of mixed English/German or English/Irish/German ancestry. However there are whole swathes of greater Cincinnati and in other areas in the midwest that are pure German. I don't think it is particulary divisive for "Volksdeutsche" in America to identify as such. It used to be threatening to the Anglo-Saxon majority, during WWI. But we're not at war with Germany any more, so who cares. And trying to do away with "hyphenation" makes no sense especially if you are descend from one particular ethnic group, as millions of Americans are.

  5. #5
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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    I absolutely HATE it when I ask someone what they are (in terms of ancestry) and they insist "Oh, I'm just an American". Of course, any old fool off the boat can say that. Taking that stance just allows you to be ignorant of your heritage. When someone asks me I say "British, Irish and German" or just "Celto-Germanic."
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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    What is a German-American to me? It is one who is of American citizenship, but of German ancestry and heritage. This is why I have no problem with the term. Zyklop made a good post today on his views of the topic. Perhaps my definition of what makes me a German-American is no different than what Raven describes as "ethnic German." I understand that not all people use the term German-American the same way I do, and that there are those who simply throw it out to look cool, or for whatever reason.

    I also understand Siegmund's post on Roosevelt's views. I have heard other Americans say these same things. They see it as an identifier towards allegience. By saying German-American, there creates a split allegiance, to them, and in the essence of American nationalism, it cannot exist.

    I have always referred to myself and my family as German-Americans. We come from a long line of proud German people who have sought to keep traditions alive, and their spirit alive. This comes from both of my parents sides. I grew up mostly in Asian-Pacific countries/islands, so I was not raised in America. I was raised to respect the people I lived around and their cultural heritage (as their own, sperate from mine, without integration). I was raised to respect the government under which I lived (the flag, the anthem, etc.). And I was raised to respect my cultural heritage from my ancestors, which is German. Culturally, I was never American, nor had the American spirit. Not modern America, nor Norman Rockwell traditional America. No one in my family has ever played Baseball, and I do not even like Apple pie. When I moved to the U.S. as a teenager, it was a shock, and not in a good way. People had no respect for anything. Not for their country, not for their culture, not for their family, not even for themselves. (I could go on for paragraphs describing the people, but I think everyone has an idea.) I was living in a foreign country just as I had my entire life. I might be an American citizen, but I am not an American (as an adjective to describe who I am). Don't get me wrong and think I am putting down anyone, because I am not, but when I see people like Georgia and Appalachian who are such proud Americans, it is funny to me. Not funny in a "haha" way, but funny in a curious way because it is not something that I understand or can identify with. I think Georgia is a great person with a great heart and wonderful ideas. Honestly (and maybe I shouldn't admit this) I can't get through reading half her posts on America because I just can't identify with them. It has nothing to do with Georgia at all. She is a great person and I'd love to live near her and chat with her for hours about girlie things like trading recipes.

    Anyhow, the baby is crying and I lost my train of thought. I hope maybe this explains better where I come from when I use the term German-American.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    I'm pretty indifferent on the subject, really.....although, I realize that some feel strongly about it one way or the other.

    I basically view it as a descriptor and in this sense, I have no problem with it. Hell, as far as I'm concerned people can call themselves anything they want so long as it is accurate. I mean a black dude calling himself a Visigoth wouldn't fly....

    I never refer to myself as a X-American. That being said, I suppose that I could come up with something if really pressed. Then again, I refer to myself as an American as little as I possible can!

    "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, I'm a Yankee do-or-die.....!"

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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    Jennifer, you don't like Apple Pie?! That's German imported!!!

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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    Quote Originally Posted by Imperator X
    Jennifer, you don't like Apple Pie?! That's German imported!!!

    I don't like much of anything apple.

    And it wasn't German imported.

    http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Apple_pie

    http://www.appleofyourpie.com/apples/

    http://www.journalofantiques.com/hearthnov.htm
    "I do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness, or the low level of their intellectual development." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

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    Re: Hyphenated Americanism

    This is an interesting question.

    I voted that I am American and that hyphenation is invalid.

    When I was growing up, I thought of the United States as an Anglo-Saxon nation, like Canada or Australia or New Zealand or England. I knew we had had immigrants of other ethnicities (like the other A-S countries), and I knew we had non-Anglo-Saxon aboriginals that we had dealt with (like the other A-S countries). But I had the sense that the majority of people were English. With that worldview, I felt like the true Americans were the English-Americans (a redundant term that I didn't use), and like everyone else was to some extent foreign.

    It wasn't until just a few years ago that I learned that we English are actually a minority in the country. After overcoming the disillusionment and studying a bit more about nationalities, I came to have a different understanding. Now I think of American (when used as a synonym for 'United Statesian') as being a reference to citizenship. It's a legal term and nothing more. And I would say that there is no American nation — only an American country. If I'm not mistaken, the United States' government does not recognize dual citizenship (though they don't forbid it either), so hyphenation is not appropriate. A person is an American citizen or he is not. End of story.

    The nationality/ethnicity of the various citizens of the United States is another matter, and it varies from person to person. I consider myself to be a member of the English nation. My nationality is English and my citizenship is United Statesian, just as the nationality of someone from Suffolk could be English and his citizenship British. And just as the Navajos are members of the Navajo nation (which is what they call it) and citizens of the United States. There is one word to refer to the nationality and another to refer to the citizenship.

    But this doesn't mean we should hyphenate the references. Citizenship and nationality are two distinct things, and there's no more need to refer to them jointly than there is need to refer to citizenship and gender jointly. I am not a Male-American. I am male. I am American. Why create a new word for the intersection of the two sets?

    (In reality, I tend to use 'American' as an adjective related to the whole continent and 'United Statesian' to refer to the country. I am American because I was born and have lived on the American continent. All United Statesians are Americans, but not all Americans are United Statesian.)

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