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Raymond Brown wrote:

> At 9:40 pm -0400 3/9/00, Nik Taylor wrote:
> >Mike Adams wrote:
> >>
> >> Hum, if it is wrong to be american-european/european-american, then why
> >> is it not wrong to be african-american?
> >
> >Did anyone say it was wrong?  Just a couple of people pointed out that
> >the normal format would be European-American, not American-European
>
> ..and I pointed out that (a) I didn't understand what "American-European"
> means, and (b) "white" is not synonymous with it, whetever it means.
>
> But tho terms like European-American, African-American (and, presumably
> Asian-American, which IMHO is pretty vague) are obviously used - whether
> rightly or wrongly - I can't help thinking that there seems to be a greater
> concern with the "pluribus" and too little with "unum" in "e pluribus
> unum".

This has been a relatively recent development in American politics, and
has only really taken firm root in the last two decades or so. Before that,
the melting pot of cultural assimilation was taken for granted as the appropriate
course of action, particularly when it comes to language and ideals of patriotism.
The salad bowl would have been frowned on back then.

> ------------------------------------------------------
>
> At 4:09 pm -0800 3/9/00, Mike Adams wrote:
> [....]
> >Me, I am an American, just happen to have most of my ancestors that I
> >know of, came from Europe.
>
> If European-American meant no more and no less than that, I could not care
> less.  But what little I understand - and maybe I've misunderstood - leads
> me to believe these terms carry with them the garbage of the 19th century
> "racial" myth.  I mean things like:
>
> >Am I a white man, or a American-European?
> >Means basically the same thing, but in the end result it does not?
>
> ...seem to me to confirm this opinion.

It is, sadly, used like this often. But the term has not been so wholly polluted
by guilt of association that progressive, enlightened individuals cannot also use
it.  Note that it's more frequently "Euro-American" when referencing American
nationals of European descent.

> Would someone whose family has lived in the UK for three or more
> generations but whose skin happened to be blackish get classified as
> European-American if s/he settled in the US and got US citizenship?
> Similarly would a 'white' Zimbabwean get classified as African-American.
> IF NOT, WHY NOT?

Because America still has deep insecurities when it comes to race, and
has never fully come to recognition of the fact.  This applies, however,
only to some segments of the population (I wouldn't dare guess how much).
For these people, all foreigners are placed into traditional categorizations,
much as Gandhi was categorized as "black" by local Europeans while
working as an advocate in South Africa for the colonial government in
the 1920s.

> <sigh> One would like to have thought that places like Auschwitz-Birkenau
> would've made plain to the world what an utter obscenity racism is.
> Can we not, at least, on this list dump this load of garbage and, er, maybe
> get back to constructing languages?

It did not happen, however, for too many people in this world, either by
literal denial, or in terms of the psychological connection they never made
with it.  You don't have to deny the Holocaust to think and act racistly:
you might just never come to the realization of what that event, and ones
like it, meant to those who went through it.  Hell on that scale, or comparable
ones like in Sierra-Leone, where hundreds of thousands of people are having
their arms and legs chopped off and where fully 1/3 of all women have been
raped, is simply not comprehensible to most people who live in developed countries.
The streets of Western Europe, North America and Japan might as well be
paved in gold, hence their appeal for immigrants.  The Onion had a great parody
of this one day in their headlines:  "40,000 brown people die somewhere."
The disconnect can be that strong.

The problem is, of course, not just with America, but with people in general.
My friend here at school has a friend born of Swedish and Turkish parents,
who, perhaps naively, decided he wanted to visit Austria this summer.  He
was stunned, because everywhere he went, his Turkish accent in English
gave his ancestry away, and he was frequently refused even basic service
there, unless he spent extra time to go to the poorer and usually more dangerous
parts of town to find a Turk who would accept him, despite the strength of the
American dollars in his wallet.

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Tom Wier   |     "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."
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