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Re: CHAT: The EU expands (was Re: THEORY/CHAT: Talmy,

From:Javier BF <uaxuctum@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 4, 2004, 18:22
>Not so, though you could have in more truth said that one hundred years >ago or more. The problem is that you assume the "ethnos" is something >physical or objective, but it is a social construct. People all >over the world can and do have overlapping and multiple identities. >In the United States the vast majority of people (80-90%) identify >to some degree both with the land of their ancestors, and with their >current home. Take Texas: most Texans identify as Texans, but not >strongly inhabitants of a city, as Southerners, and as Americans, and >maybe also cosmopolites on top, and parallel to all those where their >ancestors came from. Chicagoans OTOH I have found have almost no >sense of being part of Illinois, but identify rather strongly both >as Americans and with whatever community their ancestors came from, >reinforced by the fact that they often live with people of the same >background. To further complicate this, as time goes on, the influence >of regional or local identity has lessened greatly. In toto, to say that >political ideology is the only factor is to vastly oversimplify, and to >confess not actually knowing the thoughts and feelings of many Americans >in any detail. > >My point about Europeans is that since the second World War, a >significant percentage of Europeans (to pull a figure out of the air, >it seems like 30-40%) have not strongly identified as Frenchmen, or
>or what have you in a political sense (though they do so in other ways, >e.g., in how and what one eats). This sets Western European countries >apart in that such people are much less likely to care about or have >strong feelings about national political symbols than elsewhere. Note
>this even separates these Europeans from many in Arab countries, for >though Arab countries are politically divided, it is very common for >Arabs to consider themselves one people, "the Arab nation", and this >has been the source of many political programs of the 20th century >in the Middle East.
You first present a very unorthodox concept of ethnicity in order to justify your assertion that Americans have a strong identity as an "ethnic group", and do not question in the least the reality and strength of the American identity on the grounds that Americans identify as well with the ethnic community of their ancestors. Next you go on to affirm that saying Americans are not an "ethnicity" is confessing not to have any idea about how Americans feel. But then, when dealing with European nations, who unlike America have real ethnic identities of their own, you choose a different measure and allow yourself to affirm categorically how we Europeans feel since WW2 and that because we consider ourselves Europeans and are no longer blind chauvinists, this invalidates our national identities. Who told you that for example we (most of) Spaniards no longer identify ourselves as Spaniards? Do you actually think the Greek or the French no longer identify themselves as Greek or as French and aren't proud of their identity as such? Or did you simply infer this from the fact that we haven't much problem to also identify ourselves at a larger level as Europeans because of our common cultural heritage (in the same way Americans haven't much problem to embrace different identities at different levels like you have just presented)? Or did you assume that from the fact that we Europeans have painfully but thankfully learned from our bloody history that being chauvinistic and following blindly our national symbols leads us nowhere but to more wars and destruction? OTOH, you haven't addressed the fact that in the US it is not unusual (and even less in recent years) for people to accuse other fellow citizens of being "anti-American", that is, supposedly not "true" Americans, merely because they do not agree with the national political credo or even because they simply dare criticize the government, and for such an accusation to be taken for real. That is, for US citizens to be considered truly Americans and "patriots", they are required to agree with the political ideology that is preached as the essence and virtue of the American nation. While such an ideological component is not a requisite of other national identities; for example, nobody requires from a Italian or an Irish to agree with any political ideology to be considered a true Italian or a true Irish. Anyway, I don't think this political discussion is taking us anywhere, and it doesn't really fit in this list either. Cheers, Javier