The Faux Americans
Donald Trump has given hate groups license to unabashedly reveal their hatred of everyone different from them—the Others. White supremacists and their nationalist, Neo-Nazi and alt-right allies have taken advantage of their newfound legitimacy. They publicly and proudly proclaim they are the Real Americans. The rest of us, with our different skin color, ethnicity or religion, are not.
The Real Americans
In actuality, native American Indians are the only ones who could claim to be Real Americans. Everyone else came from somewhere else. They became Real Americans by immigrating directly, or as a descendant of previous immigrants. That includes the men who established the United States and its government. Known as “Founders,” they immortalized their vision of this new country in the Declaration of independence and the Constitution.
The Founders’ Vision
They wanted the United States of America to be free of restrictions on any ethnic or religious group. That principle is codified in the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” George Washington was immensely proud of implementing this novel idea. In August 1790 he traveled to Newport, Rhode Island where he visited a Jewish synagogue. In a letter of thanks to its congregants, he made several references to religious freedom.
“. . . . The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. . . .
“…. May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. . . .”
The Shame of Slavery
It is incontestable that at its founding the United States welcomed people of all religions as Real Americans. Though religious freedom was specifically spelled out, not everyone was free. Slavery, widespread throughout the South, was a permissible practice preserved in the Constitution. The Civil War finally ended that shameful chapter; abolished slavery and codified it in 1868 as the Constitution’s 13th Amendment.
Enslaved men and women did not choose to be immigrants, yet as a workforce they made major contributions to the development of this country. Though they were not free, their labor was. They more than earned the right to be called Real Americans.
Hatred Disguised as Patriotism
Apparently, white supremacists and their nationalist, Neo-Nazi and alt-right allies believe it is their right to define who a Real American is: a mirror image of themselves. Everyone else is The Other, and should have no rights. There is no historical, legal or moral basis for that claim, just irrational hatred disguised and justified under the cloak of patriotism.
E Pluribus Unum”
The great strength of America has always been its diversity. People are drawn here because this country, more than any other on earth, creates its strength and greatness by intertwining cultures, religions, languages, customs, colors and traditions into a masterpiece. It’s what the founders envisioned when the Great Seal of the United States was first used in 1782. “E Pluribus Unum” – Out of Many One.
Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed this perfectly when he said, “The principle on which this country was founded and by which it has always been governed is that Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry.
The Hatemongers Who Lack American Values
The men and women marching under the banners of Confederate and Neo-Nazi flags have no right to claim they are Real Americans. Their flags represent groups that made war against the United States and tried to destroy it. Fortunately for them, freedom of speech is a respected American value. If the United States were a country reflective of the values these hatemongers are demonstrating, they would be treated as Real Enemies of the State and prosecuted for treason, or much worse.
Neither the white supremacist nor Nazi agenda is an American agenda or philosophy. These hatemongers should be marginalized and forced to crawl back into their racist and antisemitic holes. It’s time to quarantine them in the dustbin of history.