Now It’s Just Another America

Time was, we called it“a bunch of pig-ignorant fucknecks who should be shamed on the pages of our learned publications,” but hey:

But there’s another America as well, one that understands itself as a
distinctive culture, rather than just a set of political propositions.
This America speaks English, not Spanish or Chinese or Arabic. It looks
back to a particular religious heritage: Protestantism originally, and
then a Judeo-Christian consensus that accommodated Jews and Catholics
as well. It draws its social norms from the mores of the Anglo-Saxon
diaspora — and it expects new arrivals to assimilate themselves to
these norms, and quickly.

Yes. It does. You know fucking WHY, you stupid, privileged bitch? Because the people presently in charge are rich white Anglo-Saxon MEN who find it kind of awkward and passé to rag on Jews and Papists openly (but have NO problem talking shit about Mexicans when they think nobody else in the conversation will judge them).

You know what determines the expectation to assimilate to what degree? SIMPLE FUCKING NUMBERS. On a calendar and on the census. That’s it. That’s all. I expect you to speak English because I speak it. I expect you to keep your religious practices under wraps because I don’t often publicly get into the whole “cannibalistic rite of flesh and blood” I practice every week.

I expect you to dress like me and act like me because I fucking CAN, because right now there are more people who look like me in positions of power than who look like you.

Because that’s the one America, the one rule we all live by. Douthat makes this sound charmingly unrealistic:

There’s an America where it doesn’t matter what language you speak,
what god you worship, or how deep your New World roots run. An America
where allegiance to the Constitution trumps ethnic differences,
language barriers and religious divides. An America where the newest
arrival to our shores is no less American than the ever-so-great
granddaughter of the Pilgrims.

It is. But guess what? It’s no less unrealistic than the first passage I quoted. It’s no less a false construction, one that ignores a history that has always been about the ones who came before shaming and fighting the ones who came after, over and over again. The difference is that one should be encouraged and the other excoriated, so as to continue to move our society forward.

Then again, our national press ain’t in the business of doing that these days. Our national press, pindick pundits like Douthat especially, is engaged in telling us that this is the world and we should accept it, kick back, maybe shake our heads but for God’s sake don’t get upset about it or anything because there’s no point. I mean, the tone of this thing:

The first America celebrated religious liberty; the second America persecuted Mormons and discriminated against Catholics.
But both understandings of this country have real wisdom to offer, and
both have been necessary to the American experiment’s success.

Just screams to the reader, “Hey, don’t worry about it! No reason to advocate for one side or the other! It’s not like I’m a columnist! It’s not like I should be telling you with the incredibly powerful voice I possess what our reaction as a society should be to the horseshit being spewed by one America or the other! Both have real wisdom to offer! Especially that whole ‘discrimination against religious minorities’ thing! Chill out! Whatchagonnado?” I mean, this is kind of our modern press’s whole institutional thing right now. This is what we do, tell you how best to avoid that uncouth and self-righteous faux pas ofactually giving a fuck.

I read a whole rage-inducingTime magazine thing over the weekend, about how the truth is just subservient to lies because of our culture, and you can’t make fucknecks believe the truth anymore, so maybe what we ought to be doing is making excuses for the fucknecks so that they’ll … I dunno, buy Time magazine, like that’s ever going to happen? It’s the usual passivity, because iPhones, and the Internet, and anyway it’s all too hard to sort out. My head hurts. I need to lie down. Nobody cares anyway.

This is the thing that makes me the most angry among the many things that make me angry about our bullshit press these days. I don’t understand becoming a columnist, putting your voice out there, only to say so little. Only to call religious ignorance and dipshittery just another way of looking at the world, equally as valid as any other.

And by the way, Douthat’s column was written in English.

This is America, motherfucker.

Speak Navajo.


13 thoughts on “Now It’s Just Another America

  1. It’s obvious the prick’s never been to Queens or Crown Heights or god forbid Atlantic Avenue. Or on a NYC subway for that matter.
    Or deep South Texas where you better know some Spanish, or the crannies of the Texas Hill Country, where some of the old timers still speak German ferchrissakes. Or New Orleans.
    Or any of a thousand and one places that bear no resemblance to his pat little summation of what our country is.

  2. Ya know, there are countries that get by perfectly well even though they have 2 official languages. Canada is one. Finland is another.
    They have a longer life expectancy and better healthcare. Their economy is doing better than ours, too.
    And I’m not even going to talk about how folks in Europe, as a norm, speak multiple languages just because they border on other nations.

  3. I don’t understand becoming a columnist, putting your voice out there, only to say so little. Only to call religious ignorance and dipshittery just another way of looking at the world, equally as valid as any other.
    Simple enough: Douthat got his sinecure by not rocking the boat, by dancing to the tune played by the men in power. He’s just giving honest advice to the Others who might want to belong, and I can’t say that he’s wrong: there’s a very limited range of opinion you can have, which includes not being Muslim, and that’s how you get ahead, just like Ross himself.

  4. Just to riff off virgotex, when my grandparents lived on Buckeye Street in Cleveland, know what you heard a lot of?Hungarian. That’s what they spoke in the old country, that’s what the neighbors spoke, that’s how it was.
    But they were under no illusions – they knew that folks who stuck with just Hungarian put themselves in a tightly circumscribed world, an ethnic ghetto, so they learned English, brought up my dad and uncle with apple pie and baseball, and generally made an effort to assimilate. Here’s the thing, though: they arrived at that conclusion without some 20th century midwestern asshole equivalent to young master Ross telling them they had to cause this is America goddammit.
    What is so objectionable about letting people figure this stuff out for themselves and decide the degree they want to assimilate for themselves? Mostly they’ll end up where you want, cupcake, and some of those ethnic ghettos will turn into Chinatowns and Little Italys and other little flowers of diversity that even wingnuts seem to at least pay lip service to.
    And in other cases, like this one, that diversity reaches beyond and actually makes its way to the wider culture. Sometimes it changes it. Sometimes culture changes for other reasons. I just completely fail to see how launching a shrieking hissy fit over it is necessary to the American experiment’s success.

  5. Second Virgotex’s observation re: “the prick’s never been to Queens or Crown Heights or god forbid Atlantic Avenue. Or on a NYC subway for that matter.”
    Exactly. Amazing how a group of people who’s attitude towards New York prior to 9/11 was probably best summed up by John Rocker feel entitled to claim not only Ground Zero as exclusively theirs, but the surrounding area, for purposes of expressing their overt bigotry.
    Oh, and Douchethat’s first paragraphs is so loaded with irony that it’d take a chainsaw to cut through it: New York is one of if not THE most diverse city in the country, a perfect location for Cordoba House…

  6. “Anglo-Saxon diaspora?”
    That’s a not-very-nice way of entirely avoiding the matter of a few hundred years of white, English-speaking conquest, war, colonization and enslavement–make `em sound like displaced persons.
    Even if he’s marginally and technically correct, given the recent redefinition of the word to indicate movements of people, the motive behind its use is entirely dishonest.
    But, then, that’s Doubthat’smodus operandi in a nutshell, isn’t it?

  7. When I lived in Toronto, I lived in a neighbourhood where you were likely to hear as many as seven different languages spoken on the street in the space of a block, mostly Greek, Spanish, English, French, and Russian. And Iliked it. Ilike the fact that my hometown, which I snidely refer to as “Whitebreadville” now has such a large Spanish-speaking population it has a nickname made of a portmanteau of the city’s name and “Colombia.” I like reading the local Spanish-language weekly paper. Just the other day, I was talking to the guy who runs the little Vietnamese restaurant down the way, and he told me if I wanted to learn some Vietnamese, I should look up the local Vietnamese heritage language school.
    I like seeing women on the street wearing sarees and jilbabs, and men wearing kufi or turbans or whatever. Diversity is interesting. Who wants to eat leftovers all the time? As my mother always used to say, “Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was exactly the same.”
    (I guess Douthat’s mother never said any such thing to him…)

  8. Every day, the volume at which these people state that someone like me is not American increases. I am as American as, if not more than, spineless, moral-relativist Douthat. Like Virgo says, has this guy been anywhere, even in DC? We be taking over, son.
    Then again, this is the NYTimes and Time magazine whose editors are apparently persona non grata periodically, so that articles like this one and thatshit-stupid “funny” piece by Joel Stein get published. And who reads Douthat and Time and nods their heads to it other than older members of my immigrant family who will allow themselves to be marginalized in order to fit in and not make waves? Just like Douthat. Aaargh.

  9. Interrobang: Re: diversity – You may consider my way of life very diverse, but it is very normal to me. I don’t consider my saris or jilbabs “or whatever” very diverse or interesting, they just are and I just am. A person, with the cultural quirks and banal, everyday desires that every single person on this planet has. An American. And, ever since 9/11, there are folks on the right telling me to go back to my country and folks on the left fetishizing me like I’m some sort of cultural sideshow. All I have to say to them is, “Fuck off. Let me mind my own business and you mind yours. That’s America.”

  10. Maitri: It’s sad that your older members of your immigrant family allow themselves to be marginalized in order to fit in. I saw it too with the older relatives of my family. They wanted to be part of the ruling elite and run away from their time as the bottom rung of society. To build themselves up they found a new group to look down on.
    They became Republicans because that was the party of money even though they didn’t have any. But they wanted some. When they got money they found that the Republicans were happy to have them, because by that time they were also the party of “pro-life” which fit into their Catholic view.
    The racism was just another plus for some of them.
    I hate to remind them that at one time their nationality was seen as “human garbage” and their their kind, “Need not apply” for jobs.

  11. She reads this guy so we don’t have to, Black. In the immortal words of Sherman T Potter: he really dusts my cookies. I don’t know what it means but I love saying it…

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