What is a ‘real’ American? And who is everyone else?

Crazy Faith Ministries

This election cycle has been brutal, and as the vitriol has continued and increased, many have been heard to say, “This is not who we are” as Americans.

But is that a fact?

Theologian Susan Thistlewaite said in a recent post on Facebook that what we are seeing and hearing is “exactly who we are as Americans.”

“Who we are” has always bubbled just below the surface. We have worked hard to keep it under wraps, but this president had the talent to tap into it.

“The base” is what the media has continually lifted as the focus and the appreciative audience of this man’s vitriol, but “the base” is probably larger than anyone wants to admit.

In anticipating the outcome of the midterm elections, many muse that only “the base” is fired up by the rhetoric about the caravan and Kavanaugh, but more than just uneducated White men are interested in and supportive of what this president is selling.

The people who formed this great nation came here racist – they thought little of annihilating the Native American population, and signers of the U.S. Constitution were clear that they intended this “city on a hill” to be formed by White people for White people.

In spite of the mythical “North” as being a place where agape love for everyone was practiced, the fact of the matter is that there was little to no agreement that Black people were equal to Whites and therefore deserving of the privileges of American citizenship.

The beloved Abraham Lincoln, while freeing enslaved people of African descent, said publicly that he did not believe Blacks were equal to Whites and suggested that a way should be made for them to be returned to Africa.

The argument over who was American and who was not began a long time ago. The Constitution did not include Blacks, Native Americans or women in the citizenship club. Blacks and women had to fight to claim their right to vote; Native Americans were almost completely silenced by the clanging hatred of Whites in power.

As was the case when the U.S. Constitution was being written – an “American” is generally believed to be White, male, Protestant and wealthy. Very few people in this country have the credentials created by the Founding Fathers. Those excluded from American citizenship from the beginning have been fighting for inclusion since the Constitution was issued.

What would “real” Americans call everyone else? Chattel, maybe? Property? Baggage? The prototype of a “real” American is not what most of us are. Those who consider themselves to be the “real” Americans have for the longest time found themselves and their desires stymied by their own founding documents. It would not be surprising to find out that many to most of “the real ones” actually resent the Constitution, including its Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

It feels like they feel their “American” duty is to preserve the purity of the class of “real” Americans, by any means necessary. The Constitution seems important to them on an “issue by issue” basis.

If the Constitution goes against the way the masses in the “real” American class is feeling, they think nothing of ignoring the document they swore to protect and uphold.

The fact that our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence have given words to what the “real” Americans would call “marginalized” people, “real” Americans have been in a state of protest and rebellion for literally hundreds of years, and this president has known it and has exploited it.

Too many people of different races and religions and ethnicities have knocked on the door of the American citizens club and have been marginally admitted, but with this administration’s comfort in spouting hateful, bigoted language, the jocks of the club have become emboldened to begin to let the masses know that we are not welcome.

A “real” American, according to those who wrote the Constitution, was a certain color, was a member of a certain religion and was a person of means. There have been too many who do not fit the basic qualifications to be a member of the club.

And that’s what this president has fed his base.

A “real” American is not who most of us are, and that fact has plenty of folks steaming angry.

Until this nation comes to grip with its reality, which it has shunned in favor of hiding behind the myth of “American exceptionalism,” what we are seeing now is only going to get worse.

What happens after these midterm elections will reveal the bubbling lava of resentment that the “real” Americans carry.

What the revelation will mean is not clear, but it seems certain that the revelation will not bode well for a nation where too many Americans feel like their own country has let them down.

Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Contact her at revsuekim@sbcgloba.net.

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