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OPINION | NWA EDITORIAL: America, America

What does one’s ‘look’ have to do with it? by NWA Democrat-Gazette | April 7, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Who is an American?

That's not as simple a question as some people like to make it. The land mass that today makes up the United States has been occupied for thousands of years by peoples who could certainly be called the original Americans. Most of what some incorrectly perceive as uniquely American today are traced back to the European colonization of the last 450 years.

One of the recognized and admired features of this nation, though, has been its status as a "melting pot" over the last couple of centuries as people from all over arrived to the New World. The U.S. population is diverse, a collection of cultures that eventually blend as a colorful tapestry.

Not everyone appreciates this. From time to time we run across people who have traced their ancestry back multiple generations. Most just want to know their own family heritage. They want to know where they came from. And, indeed, unless you're a Native American, it's safe to say that ancestry shows your family came from someplace else sometime in the last several hundred years. Occasionally, some foolish soul uses that longer family history to support a belief he's "more American" than the newcomers.

That kind of notion is downright unAmerican.

An incident investigated by police in Hot Springs recently provided a shocking example of the "I'm more American than you" attitude this country doesn't need. Police reported a now-former Bentonville firefighter was arrested outside the Oaklawn Casino after reports he hit an Asian man. The man told police his attacker first asked him if he knew he was in America. The firefighter told police he was "hammered" but acknowledged confronting the Asian man for not being American. He denied being involved in an attack and had red knuckles and blood on him, according to police.

All this happened amid increased reports nationwide of attacks on Asian Americans.

This firefighter's guilt or innocence will be decided in court, but reports of such attacks are shameful.

Nobody, and everybody, "looks" American. You know how we know? Because the people who've gone to war in the name of the United States have just about every "look" one can imagine. Some of us, by the grace of God, are Americans because someone else farther back in the family tree made the journey to these shores. Others are just arriving to build their lives here, but they can be every bit as American as the rest of the population.

It's not about looks. It's about belief in the United States of America, its freedoms and its eternal values that cherish liberty and opportunity.

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What’s the point?

There’s no such thing as “looking” American.

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