Patrick J. Buchanan's Article: What Does It Mean To Be An American

1127 Words 5 Pages
What makes an American, ‘American’? The answer to this question will vary greatly depending on the respondent’s beliefs and cultural background. As the United States continues to grow and evolve in areas such as race, ethnicity and culture, the image of America changes as well. In an article entitled ‘Nation or Notion’ by Patrick J. Buchanan, he argues that Americans need a common identity based upon ancestry and culture to survive as a country. On the other hand, an article entitled ‘What Does It Mean to Be an “American”?’ by Michael Walzer argues that America does not need a common identity. He argues that there is no singular national identity and that citizenship is the unifying force of society. Although both authors raise practical arguments, …show more content…
According to Buchanan, the American identity is based on history, common ancestry, and patriotism and it must be a common identity. To begin, he points out a recent shift from history and ‘blood’ to creed and ideology, which he strongly opposes. Before Americans adopted a creed, America was a nation and Americans were a people; they did not need creed to form an American identity. Therefore, the American people are made of language, faith, culture, history, birth blood, and soil rather than an ideology. These people then make up a nation, which according to Buchanan is organic and alive. For these people to truly be a nation they must believe that they are a nation and that they share a common ancestry and destiny. This formed nation then writes a constitution which serves as a birth certificate of the already existing nation in the hearts of these people. At the soul of this formed nation is patriotism. Patriotism is defined as a …show more content…
The US has been a blend of races, cultures, and ethnic groups evolving from successive waves of immigration since the very beginning. As far as immigrants coming to the US, Germans were the first in question as to their ability to become ‘real’ Americans. Next, questions were raised about the Chinese, Irish, Eastern European’s and most recently Hispanic-American and Muslim-Americans. This list alone provides a wide range of cultural beliefs and values all located in the US. Buchanan argues that patriotism, the love and loyalty for one’s own country, is at the heart of the nation, however; considering the mixture of immigrants located in the US, there is a mixture of love and possibly still loyalty to their original country. Additionally, the US, compared to nearly all other nations, has experienced unparalleled growth in its multicultural population. This growth directly relates to Walzer’s argument that non-natives will always create a sense of ‘manyness’. This manyness suggests that it is the blend of all these cultures and uniquely identified, hyphenated Americans, that makes up the ‘American’ identity. Of course, there are core beliefs and values specific to the US and Americans such as freedom of speech and other liberties granted by the Constitution that create an American identity, however; the hyphenated- Americans can share ‘American’ beliefs as well as some of their own cultural beliefs.

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