A Description of a Really Nice Sausage
Sunday, January 02, 2005
  Regarding national pride it seems to me that some people mix up incidentals with the imperatives of national greatness. When acting to preserve America, they also act to preserve English, Christianity, special creation, and apple pie. But while these may be typically ethnic American pleasures—yeah, I'm positing an American ethnicity, and simply so in a dependent clause, without any of the tonnes of PhD dissertations required to back that up—what's really important for American success are a series of ideas orthogonal to the ECAP complex: things like representative government, checks and balances, separation of powers, innocence until proven otherwise, freedom of expression, religious and otherwise.

I mention this because many seem to want—at least, through what they say and say to me—to preserve ECAP at the possible expense of the orthogonal series. Just one example would be the archetypal phrase: "To protect the American way of life, citizens should steel themselves against the civil liberties boogeyman and embrace stronger security."

Many Americans feel that what's deserving of protection in America is the openness and free way of life we enjoy—that pave the road ECAP rolls teeteringly on. I feel this way, and I think this feeling is something that might distinguish America from just any other industrial power in the world today.

France is French. China is Chinese. Until recently (and perhaps still), it's nearly impossible to be a German citizen without a German parent. But America, despite the fact that it is overwhelmingly white and protestant, a snapshot of Britain, is not necessarily just American. We have too many hyphenations to claim a core American ethnic identity anymore. People come in bringing their own cultures and assimilate to varying degrees. What the ECAP crowd finds distasteful is that some immigrants and their families do not adapt ECAP as their badge but retain JSS—Japanese, Shinto, and sushi—as their link with their past.

That's fine. ECAP is the link to the past many Americans have; no one should begrudge anyone their link to the past, although they may find it distasteful. But ask an ardent ECAP-badger about the possibility, for instance, of a massive population infusion transforming the United States into a country predominantly of Arabs, who speak Arabic and worship in mosques, but who otherwise learn about and enthuse about separation of powers, innocence until proven otherwise, equal rights for all, and the rest of the orthogonal series. ECAP-badgers accused with this scenario will go bat-shit. Because America for them is not America without ECAP.

Personally, I feel that if such a situation (unlikely, of course, given ethnic majorities' power, even when dwindling, to make immigration and life for immigrants hard) were to occur, it would be fine. The crucial inheritance, that of the orthogonal series, descended without incident. If America in the twenty-fifth century (if still existing as such) were colonized by aliens speaking by telepathy and feeding upon human intestines, I should not have a problem with it as such if the aliens still respected the orthogonal series.

(Mind you, aliens having taken over the world and enslaved mankind bothers me greatly, and I'm sure ECAP-badger master-strawman-makers will work cereal magic out of what I've just said, but the fact is my commitment to humanity far exhausts my commitment to America, even the American ideal and the orthogonal series—though I must say, I believe the health of the human body politic is dissolved in a big bottle of Enlightenment ideals, besides others, though I'll abandon that position if I'm shown conclusively to be wrong.)
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