In response to Nick Hemenway’s article “I am an American”, I feel insulted as an American citizen of Mexican descent. Mr. Hemenway says, “Among all the things that we may disagree on, our allegiance should not be one of them” in reference to protesters waving the Mexican flag. I believe that if someone expresses pride in their ethnic origins then not only is it healthy, but it in no way suggests a “loyalty” to a foreign nation. The idea is pure nonsense and quite uneducated.
I believe that, as a nation, we are fortunate enough to live in a country that is filled with many cultures. In countries such as Mexico, however, this is not the case. While waving the American flag can be a symbol of support for our government, waving a Mexican flag can quite often be something as innocuous as showing cultural pride.
I agree with Hemenway that asking someone’s ethnicity is unnecessary. Not because someone’s culture is unimportant, but because a person’s culture does not define them. While American culture may be too hung up on political correctness, we should still celebrate the cultural differences in our society. Not as a way to separate us, but as a way to remind us all that differences are okay. From Einstein with science to the Asian-Americans who helped build railroads and foster industrialization, the backbone of this country has been forged by immigrants who gave strenuously to our great country while maintaining pride in their original culture.
And while there are many benefits to having everyone speaking the same language, it also seems slightly hypocritical. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase gave land from Mexico to the United States that today comprise 6 different states. Many Mexicans had lived there for generations. So perhaps we should recognize that Spanish was spoken exclusively in several areas of the United States centuries before English was. In fact, several languages lay claim to this (including French).
As for Mr. Hemenway’s claim that his relatives “realized the only way they would make it in this new world was to adopt the American way of life as their own”, perhaps we shouldn’t be asking why immigrants now seem unwilling to do this. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves that if we are truly a nation that has grown to be accepting of all races and cultures, then why should immigrants feel they must change whom they are in order to make it here?