It hurts me deeply to say this, but here goes: I’m not a real American.
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Oh, I’m proud to live in America and grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given in this great country. Also, I would probably seem pretty American to you: I was born and raised in Texas, I came up through public schools, I drive a made-in-America 1997 Ford, I own a modest house, I have a small business, I pay taxes and meet a payroll, I work hard, I’m a beer drinker, I love baseball… and so on.
But here’s where I fall down: I don’t live in a place that Sarah Palin likes.
“I like to visit the pro-America parts of this great nation,” she recently explained to an appreciative crowd at a Republican rally in North Carolina. In fact, she talks incessantly about how small town, moose-dressing, hockey moms like her are the real Americans. Apparently, the rest of us are, at best, fake Americans, or, worse, anti-Americans.
Live in a big city or anywhere on the West Coast? You don’t meet Sarah’s standard, and she won’t be visiting your area. Are you now or have you ever been a community organizer? Gosh darn it, get out of here, says Ms. Real America. Are you Black, a Democrat, an environmentalist, a pro-choicer, or – omigosh! – a Muslim? Well, doggone it, that’s sure not real in Palin’s America. When you get right down to it, the only ones who qualify as Real, Pro-American Americans are those who show up at Sarah Palin rallies. That leaves a whole lot of us out.
What holds us together in this big, sprawling nation of wonderfully-diverse people and cultures is the realization that no one group is more “real” than the next. What unifies us as a society is our belief in the common good – and those who try to separate us from that unifying bond are the real enemies of America. It’s you who needs to get real, Ms. Palin.
“Keepin’ it real in Fake America,” Austin American Statesman, October 23, 2008.