What does it mean to be American?

Chat about anything your heart desires here, just be civil. Factual or scientific questions about philosophy go here (e.g. "When was Socrates born?"), and so most homework help questions belong here. Note, posts in the off-topic section will not increase new members post counts. This includes the introductions and feedback sections.

What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#1  Postby Itsorb » July 12th, 2017, 3:18 pm

Constantly, I hear about discrimination of race and gender. This has brought me to ponder about my own identity, and one question that I just knew I could not answer on my own during the process was "what does it mean to be American?". The reason why I ask this in the forums is because I know some responses will come from Americans, and some from non-Americans, which helps bring in an outside perspective. I hope you can help me discuss an answer to this question. So far, I have not come up with anything knew, that isn't the corny virtues usually referred to when a politician speaks on being American.
User avatar
Itsorb
New Trial Member
 
Posts: 0 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: July 12th, 2017, 3:08 pm

What does it mean to be American?



Become a member for less ads

Already a member? Login
 

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#2  Postby -1- » July 12th, 2017, 6:00 pm

What typifies an American?

- Ability to spell "Their" five different ways, regardless of correct meaning

- read with consternation of people shooting up schools, post offices and amateur abortion agencies, and not try to ban guns

- think their country is the best ever in the world (the actual value judgment I am neither debating, nor confirming)

- ask not what their country can do for them, instead, ask what they can do for their country

- ask what Jesus would do (for their country)

- cherry-pick when reading the bible

- accept Jews as humans and without a trace of discrimination, yet place the Black People in a sub-class beneath their own (whether they be white or black)

- not understand foreign cultures

- think that the French are funny just by being French

- no longer think that the Japanese are cool, but the Chinese are.

-- Updated 2017 July 12th, 6:06 pm to add the following --

- Would rather bankrupt their own families trying to raise money for a major surgery, than accept a public-funded (essentially free) universal healthcare system. Like people have in Canada, Japan, China, in all European countries, Oz, and Americans would rather see their fellow citizens rot in the gut and the gutter of diseases they can't afford to get cured, much the same way as in Quatar, Syria, Bangla Desh, Brazil and Zimbabwe.

-- Updated 2017 July 12th, 6:08 pm to add the following --

Itsorb wrote:So far, I have not come up with anything knew, that isn't the corny virtues usually referred to when a politician speaks on being American.

How is the above by me serving as an antidote to your saccharine-sweet candied idealism of the description of an American?
"You can always live without a lover, but you can't love without a liver."
User avatar
-1-
 
Posts: 712 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 1st, 2016, 2:23 am

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#3  Postby Steve3007 » July 13th, 2017, 8:57 am

Hey -1-, you seem to have a bit of a downer on the old USA at the moment. Why so? I was under the impression that you are actually American yourself, aren't you? Not that I'm against criticism of one's own country. I'm often to be heard slagging off the good old UK after a couple of pints.

But I do find your criticism of American spelling of the word "their" a bit curious. There may indeed be some crimes against spelling which American English must answer for (like, for example, refusing to spell the word "thru" with a sufficient number of superfluous extra letters) but the spelling of that word "their" doesn't seem to be one of them.

-- Updated Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:00 pm to add the following --

cherry-pick when reading the bible


And I think this one shows an admirable ability to multi-task.
"Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch."
Steve3007
 
Posts: 3747 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Location: UK
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#4  Postby Burning ghost » July 13th, 2017, 9:53 am

This could be an interesting thread!

I am not American, but I have opinions about The States. I am from the UK, so I would be interested to hear what others think of people from the UK?
AKA badgerjelly
Burning ghost
 
Posts: 1381 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#5  Postby Fan of Science » July 13th, 2017, 11:13 am

1's description of Americans is laughable. It's amazing how many people on social media demonize two nations --- the USA and Israel. I'm an American, and a life-long atheist, so the comments about Jesus and cherry-picking from the Bible are absurd. Although it's far from scientific, I can also state that when the issue of atheism comes up, I frequently find about 25% of the people present are atheists like me. There are a significant number of non-believers in the USA, and even among the believers, many Americans have a distrust for organized religion. There is a reason why Mark Twain is an American icon. He wasn't exactly fond of religion. It's only the extremists on the right who make religion a political issue in the USA. Everyone else rolls their eyes when a politician starts talking about their religious beliefs. This is also a fairly recent development in the USA, not consistent with the vast majority of US political history, where politicians routinely avoided talking about religion in political debates.

I have also not noticed any greater intellectual abilities among those who post on social media forums who do not live in the USA.
Has anyone? It's rather ironic that 1 claims Americans don't understand foreign cultures, while he/she obviously does not understand the American culture.

As far as America accepting Jews as humans while discriminating against others, this is a weird statement. There is still a great deal of anti-Semitism in the USA, and it even comes from certain elements in the black communities. Just look at Nation of Islam or listen to Ice Cube speak about Jews. This, despite the fact that the majority of white people who rode in the American south in support for civil rights were Jews. This despite the fact that the Jews helped start the NAACP. This despite the fact that Jews, like the owner of SEARS, helped blacks set up schools and hospitals in the American south. In fact, this is one of the reasons white supremacists target Jews --- they largely fought for the rights of black people. Martin Luther King, Jr., realized this, and was outspoken against anti-Semitism. But, anyone who thinks that there is zero anti-Semitism in the USA has no idea what they are speaking about. The Alt-Right is certainly targeting Jews. There has been a spike in anti-Semitic attacks after Trump's election win. The number one group that is targeted with religious hate crimes in the USA is the Jewish population. Go look up the FBI stats.

The statements about Japanese and Chinese are also bizarre from 1. Most Americans like both Japanese and Chinese people, but there are still racists in the USA who discriminate against them. They are a minority, however, just like the people who hate blacks and Jews are also a minority in the USA.

-- Updated July 13th, 2017, 11:17 am to add the following --

Most Americans like the British and consider Britain as our closest ally.
Fan of Science
 
Posts: 172 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: May 26th, 2017, 1:39 pm

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#6  Postby -1- » July 13th, 2017, 12:49 pm

Fan of Science, think the sky is red in mid-day when the Sun is high.

I also think that the Moon is closer than you think.

I also think that if Moses and Edison sat down to a match of arm-wrestling, then one of them would win.

(I am seeing to see, how many of my opinions here you'll oppose. I am developing a theory here, and this is a test of it.)

Regarding the demonizing of Americans and Israelis: Are the Muslims not demonized? Everyone struggles with some demons, you know.

In America, the masses demonize the extremely rich, the whites demonize the Blacks, feminists demonize middle-aged white males, and a lot of people demonize the Industrial-Military Pharmaceutical complex of the United States.

So you don't have to go abroad, Fan, to see any demonization at all.
"You can always live without a lover, but you can't love without a liver."
User avatar
-1-
 
Posts: 712 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 1st, 2016, 2:23 am

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#7  Postby Fan of Science » July 13th, 2017, 12:57 pm

1 -- When you stake out a silly position, then I will oppose it. You made a number of foolish claims about Americans and I opposed them.

Are Muslims demonized? By some people, yes, but by most people on the left they are given a free-pass on their barbarity.

The masses demonize the extremely rich? Then how come Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are so well loved? How come Steve Jobs was so popular? How come Trump is president? How come Elon Musk is well-liked? Wealthy Jewish "banksters" are certainly demonized by the left and the alt-right in the USA, but not wealthy people in general. Especially wealthy people who work hard and earned their money from basically scratch. Those people are largely looked up to.

Once again, you are showing a great deal of ignorance about America.
Fan of Science
 
Posts: 172 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: May 26th, 2017, 1:39 pm

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#8  Postby -1- » July 13th, 2017, 12:58 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
But I do find your criticism of American spelling of the word "their" a bit curious.

Steve, go to a site where the average American writes on forum posts. They're grammar their is what there grammar is.

This is just one example. It is a well-known opinion that the USA has been sabotaging the education of the masses. The policy must be, we figure, that a dumb populace is easier to control by mass methods. And by George, it works. (By George W.B., that is.)

People in North America can't spell properly below a certain education level, while in the UK they do. People in North America (not every one, but I have seen examples with my very own eyes) will zip out a calculator to calculate ten percent of a hundred dollars. I am not even kidding, this is a fact.

-- Updated 2017 July 13th, 1:07 pm to add the following --

Fan of Science, i read the New York Times and the Globe and Mail. I wonder where you get your information? I know you like Trump, you show signs of Zionist paranoia (mildly, but still), and I know that to you a blank statement of "they are given a free-pass on their barbarity" is NOT a demonizing statement.

In your tirades you assert things as if they were facts, and facts I had uttered. You are committing Strawman fallacies all over the place. I don't defend myself because I am convinced that you wouldn't understand the defence, much like you are oblivious to the merit of the points people bring up here.

I am curious what convinced you to join a philosophy site. I joined because I like philosophy, logical thinking, clear insights, and non-self contradictory opinions. I also like to point out when others fail at these. With you I don't point out anything, because there would be more points than stars at midnight above the Grand Canyon on a clear day.
"You can always live without a lover, but you can't love without a liver."
User avatar
-1-
 
Posts: 712 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 1st, 2016, 2:23 am

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#9  Postby Fan of Science » July 13th, 2017, 1:33 pm

1 -- Damn, how many times can you be so utterly wrong? I like Trump? Find a single comment from me supporting Trump. You won't find one from me because I hate the clown. But, you don't seem too concerned about the actual facts --- but rather simply want to make apologist points for irrational positions.

Strawman fallacies? Given your statement that I support Trump, you seriously want to accuse me of committing strawman fallacies?

Why are you here? I have yet to see you make a single cogent argument of any kind. You make up nonsense, make claims about others that are wholly indefensible, and engage in petty personal attacks?

If you go check out the post about what is mathematics, you'll see when I first came here I was involved in a discussion regarding mathematics. One of the moderators here still has not understood what math is, although I tried explaining it to him on that specific post as well as another. In any event, in discussing the nature of math being non-empirical, I made a number of philosophical arguments here that did not involve anything you are falsely accusing me of.

The fact that not everyone agrees with your childish delusions should be common-place for you by now. Unless you surround yourself in some sort of self-serving bubble world.
Fan of Science
 
Posts: 172 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: May 26th, 2017, 1:39 pm

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#10  Postby LuckyR » July 13th, 2017, 3:57 pm

-1- wrote:What typifies an American?

- Ability to spell "Their" five different ways, regardless of correct meaning

- read with consternation of people shooting up schools, post offices and amateur abortion agencies, and not try to ban guns

- think their country is the best ever in the world (the actual value judgment I am neither debating, nor confirming)

- ask not what their country can do for them, instead, ask what they can do for their country

- ask what Jesus would do (for their country)

- cherry-pick when reading the bible

- accept Jews as humans and without a trace of discrimination, yet place the Black People in a sub-class beneath their own (whether they be white or black)

- not understand foreign cultures

- think that the French are funny just by being French

- no longer think that the Japanese are cool, but the Chinese are.

-- Updated 2017 July 12th, 6:06 pm to add the following --

- Would rather bankrupt their own families trying to raise money for a major surgery, than accept a public-funded (essentially free) universal healthcare system. Like people have in Canada, Japan, China, in all European countries, Oz, and Americans would rather see their fellow citizens rot in the gut and the gutter of diseases they can't afford to get cured, much the same way as in Quatar, Syria, Bangla Desh, Brazil and Zimbabwe.

-- Updated 2017 July 12th, 6:08 pm to add the following --

Itsorb wrote:So far, I have not come up with anything knew, that isn't the corny virtues usually referred to when a politician speaks on being American.

How is the above by me serving as an antidote to your saccharine-sweet candied idealism of the description of an American?


To be fair to Fan, your use of the word "typifies" is actually inaccurate and resulted in the response you got. I get it. Even a simpleton knows that every country on the planet has members of the populace who are below average in the logic and intellect departments. What you are describing is NOT what most Americans believe (as he correctly pointed out) but what a larger than average minority believe, different than other countries. Despite protestations to the contrary, every country is vulnerable to nitpicking from within and outside of it's borders. The US (and Israel) is not special in that way.
"As usual... it depends."
User avatar
LuckyR
 
Posts: 2185 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#11  Postby Fan of Science » July 13th, 2017, 4:23 pm

Lucky R gets it. I doubt any American would deny we have some real idiots in our nation, but, we are not all idiots. Far from it. And, other nations have their fair share of idiots too. Everyone does.
Fan of Science
 
Posts: 172 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: May 26th, 2017, 1:39 pm

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#12  Postby Fooloso4 » July 13th, 2017, 6:55 pm

What it means to be an American has a great deal to do with which America one is part of.

The United States is a deeply divided nation. The government is no longer simply in the pocket of big business, the line between business and politic has become increasingly blurred.

Both career politicians in Congress and a White House without political knowledge and experience are problematic. Too many who wield power are self-serving and have little or no regard for the people or the country or the environment.

Although there has been a renewed interest in politics there is a serious problem with the information sources that many, including the president, rely on. This is most striking shown by his affiliation with Fox and InfoWars. The latter, because of its extremist views, makes Fox seem like the voice of moderation. There is also the problem of a glut of of real fake news that flooded social media during the election and Trump’s continued attack on fake “fake news”. At the same time there has been a sharp increase in subscriptions to what Trump calls the "failed New York Times”, the Washington Post, and other print media.

This divide maps closely that of income and education. The rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer and the middle class has markedly diminished. But among the 1% we find those like the Koch brothers and their cohorts, including some in the White House, who have made a concerted and in large part successful effort to roll back social programs and regulations while lower taxes to make themselves even richer.

All of this has made for some uncomfortable social and family gatherings. Public displays of patriotism have taken on an air of hostile defiance not only against foreign adversaries but against one’s fellow citizens who do share this jingoistic attitude. But of course, when the “opposition party” is in power these same patriots think it is their patriotic duty to try to discredit those in power.

Politics has become more like a spectator sport - rooting for one’s team to win. Winner take all with little regard to the nation as a whole. Both left and right have an extreme element that in some ways are closer to each other than to the center. On college campuses, once were a bastion of free speech, students now protest to prevent some on the right from speaking.

There is in some places a growing or smoldering hostility between the police and the citizens they are supposed to protect.

One the one hand we see a greater tolerance for racial, religious, and sexual differences, but on the other a resentment of this and greater intolerance.

The same divide can be seen on the issue of gun control although this is somewhat obscured by the fact that many politicians on the left, especially those with a national presence do little more than pay lip service to reform out of fear that it would be politically damaging either in terms of votes or repercussions from hard line colleagues on the other side or both.

Then of course there is healthcare. It is, to use a deliberate sports metaphor, a political football with many people seemingly unaware of the consequences to them of Republican efforts repeal and replace the ACA.

We are a country in transition. What it means to be an American is a question without a clear, unambiguous answer. How one might answer today might not be how they will answer five or ten or twenty years from now.
Fooloso4
Moderator
 
Posts: 2756 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#13  Postby Sayso » July 13th, 2017, 7:26 pm

What it means to be an American is that the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enjoy explicit endorsement by the legal establishment, and, presumably, one's fellow citizens. That's a big head-start in building and/or finding and/or enjoying a good life.
User avatar
Sayso
New Trial Member
 
Posts: 9 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: July 13th, 2017, 3:46 pm

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#14  Postby Steve3007 » July 14th, 2017, 5:44 am

Fooloso4:
...We are a country in transition. What it means to be an American is a question without a clear, unambiguous answer. How one might answer today might not be how they will answer five or ten or twenty years from now.


I guess the clearest definition of what it traditionally means to be American comes from immigration - "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free... We come on the ship they called the Mayflower; We come on the ship that sailed the moon; We come in the age's most uncertain hour to sing that American tune..." etc. (a mixture of Emma Lazarus and Paul Simon there) So what it means to be American is that you are necessarily culturally diverse in your origins. Perhaps a lot of what it means to be American is that you struggle to understand what it means to be American.


-1-:
Steve, go to a site where the average American writes on forum posts. They're[sic] grammar their[sic] is what there[sic] grammar is...


(I love that word "sic". It makes the person using it look very clever because it's Latin and knowing Latin means you're clever.)

Loads of people in the English-speaking world mix up "there" and "they're". My very own dad did it in a Twitter post just yesterday and I pulled him up on it. I haven't noticed it being especially prevalent in Americans.

I know a lot of what you say is tongue-in-cheek and you're probably just being mischievous but I guess I'll still fall into the trap and echo Fan of Science's point that there are people who can't spell or work out 10% of something everywhere. And people who are very brainy and good at spelling everywhere. It's the kind of theme that some people write schmaltzy but highly lucrative songs about, so it must be true. "We are the world; we are the children... Ebony and Ivory live together in perfect harmony... I'd like to buy the world a coke... Everything is beautiful... The world is filled, in roughly equal proportion, with people who can't work out 10% of something..." etc.
"Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch."
Steve3007
 
Posts: 3747 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Location: UK
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes

Re: What does it mean to be American?

Post Number:#15  Postby Greta » July 14th, 2017, 9:47 am

Itsorb wrote:Constantly, I hear about discrimination of race and gender. This has brought me to ponder about my own identity, and one question that I just knew I could not answer on my own during the process was "what does it mean to be American?". The reason why I ask this in the forums is because I know some responses will come from Americans, and some from non-Americans, which helps bring in an outside perspective. I hope you can help me discuss an answer to this question. So far, I have not come up with anything knew, that isn't the corny virtues usually referred to when a politician speaks on being American.


I'm Australian. What does it mean to me to be Australian? I don't know because I only know what it's like to be me.

I suppose this comes down to nationalistic identification and my lack of it. Americans do strike me to be more nationally conscious than most Aussies, probably because they lived in the world's a dominant culture until recently. I expect there are psychological challenges to living in a falling empire (or the modern equivalent). If one has hitched a fair bit of their identity to being a citizen of "the greatest country on Earth" then their nation falling behind other strong nations in most parameters would be unsettling. Even for more worldly Americans, it would be strange to be surrounded by so many agitated people struggling to emotionally adapt to changes in the economic and global order.

Whatever, as far as I'm concerned, the part of the planet from which we hail is less important than simply being part of this adventure of life on Earth.
User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5360 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Next

Return to Philosophers' Lounge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Philosophy Trophies

Most Active Members
by posts made in lasts 30 days

Avatar Member Name Recent Posts
Greta 162
Fooloso4 116
Renee 107
Ormond 97
Felix 90

Last updated January 6, 2017, 6:28 pm EST

Most Active Book of the Month Participants
by book of the month posts

Avatar Member Name BOTM Posts
Scott 147
Spectrum 23
Belinda 23
whitetrshsoldier 20
Josefina1110 19
Last updated January 6, 2017, 6:28 pm EST