A recent survey was brought to my attention: “A PRRI survey released Tuesday (June 23) finds that nearly 2 in 3 Americans (62 percent) say God has granted America an exceptional role in human history.” (Source: Religion News Service, June 23, 2015)
The fascinating thing to me is “how the heck would they know?” These are the very same people who say things like “no one can know the mind of God” and “God works in mysterious ways,” yet they seem to know what God is thinking all of the time.
This responders in that survey also had a somewhat narrow view of who is “truly American.” High on the list of very or somewhat important characteristics are people who:
Speak English: 89 percent say this is very or somewhat important.
Believe in God: 69 percent.
Were born in the U.S.: 58 percent.
Are Christian: 53 percent.
Again, I would have to ask them: how would they know? There is an official definition of what an American is, being basically anyone who has met the requirements of citizenship. I got mine by being born to two citizens. Others, like friends of mine, got it through the naturalization process. Stating one’s opinion on who is a “true American” is an invitation to show one’s biases and prejudices. So, from the responses to this survey questionnaire, I conclude the responders (be they actual Americans or not) are bigoted in the extreme.
All of my take on this comes from my background as a teacher. I saw, after the end of the Vietnam War, a wave of immigrants from that country come to live in California. Comments flew around right and left about these new “immigrants,” many of which were negative. What I saw was that those people exhibited all of the qualities that Americans said they admired in Americans: they worked hard, they saved their money, they invested in their own businesses, they made sure their children got good educations; they almost never broke the law, and they kept their mouths shut. One of the most frequent negative comments was about how “those people” were getting government assistance (not necessarily) and were being unfairly advantaged. A closer look would have shown the complainers were getting the advantages, they just didn’t want to work that hard to benefit from them.
As an example of one such “immigrant,” whose name will not be given, I met her when she attended my General Chemistry course, in which she got a C. I could not remember her ever asking a question though a long semester and a bitch of a course. (Voted most difficult course at Georgia Tech, for example, and those were tech students voting!) Later she went on to graduate from UC Davis in biochemistry, and then go on to become a physician. When she gain entrance into medical school (on her second try, a year after her first), she came back to the little two-year college where she began her education to thank all of her teachers. One thing she shared with us was her translation of her general chemistry textbook into Vietnamese! It was a 1000+ page book. After she finished chemistry, it was passed down to siblings coming along as a bridge to learning in English.
Horatio Alger couldn’t come up with a better story and that is not the half of it. When she was applying to medical school she asked me for help with her essay for her application. In that essay she described how she was captured … three times … trying to escape from Vietnam after the war. She was imprisoned three times and “re-educated” before she made it out on her fourth try. Yes, she was one of the “boat people.” (I remember tears in my eyes as I was reading her draft.)
When she came to this country she did not speak English, she was not born in the U.S., she was not a Christian, and I don’t think she believed in the Christian god, but she is still one of the finest Americans I have ever had the pleasure to know.