Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Is "Americanism" qualifiable?

 


One can only stand amazed at the multitude of ways by which the American people are able to abuse the English language; especially as it relates to their national identity.

It's bad enough that Americans have had the general neutral abomination inflicted upon us, as well as the various twists and turns that various racial silliness have brought upon them, not to mention the abuses that various segments have introduced into our language, it's no wonder that very few Americans are able to speak their language correctly.

Take, for example, the term “Native American.” Now just what does that mean?

Who is included in this category?

We assume that this term refers to what was once known as “Redskins,” “Indians,” or any number of other terms, all of which seem to be unacceptable to those to which they are directed; but none seem to take into consideration the fact that those people to whom they refer migrated to this part of the world from what is now the Soviet Union. Yet, we never hear of them being referred to as “Russians,” and they're certainly not natives. In fact, as best as can be determined, there is no such thing as a “native American.”

And then we have those “Americans” whose skin is even darker than the “Redskins,” and there seems to be some confusion as to just what their official category might be. There are those who wish to call them “Blacks,” because that is the general reference as it relates to skin pigment.

In wide usage, also, is the term “Afro-American,” which assumes that most of their forefathers migrated, or were hauled here not of their own will, from Africa.

And various ethnic groups have tagged their ethnic origin onto Americanism, for whatever logical reason no one really knows.

But, for some unexplainable reason, fewer and fewer Americans seem willing to be just that: Americans.

Back when many of the older population was beginning to find its way in life as Americans, we learned to pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States... indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Now that seems to be both simple, inclusive, and comprehensive. Foreigners who come to our country and wish to become citizens of it (we'll have to work out the present-day madness at some later time) were instructed that when they swore allegiance to this country they became full-fledged citizens of the United States of America, without qualification.

So, this explanation should put the matter to rest. People who reside in the United States of America are either Americans; or they're not; there's no made up adjective qualification about it.

It's time for us to get back to reality; if we're born here, or if we've gone through the legal process of naturalization, we're Americans.

Everyone else is not; without qualification.

Quo vadis?

When your humble scribe was a lad, and World War II was just getting underway, some group launched an essay writing endeavor for young people, encouraging them to describe “Why I'm proud to be an American.”

With everyone caught up in the war effort and all its associated endeavors, it seemed appropriate that participation in the effort would be appropriate; and an essay was forthcoming. This may have been an early indication that writing was a worthy activity for this unworthy soul.

A month or so later the postman delivered a small package and a letter proclaiming that the essay had borne fruit, and an appropriate testimonial for the effort was enclosed, along with a baseball, presumed to be an appropriate symbol of Americanism.

From time to time the memory of this youthful endeavor comes to mind; usually when America is embroiled in some sort of warfare in one country or another.

In the first couple of ventures one was, indeed, proud to be an American standing guard at one foreign frontier or another.

But as time passed, and wartime efforts became almost commonplace, and the sense of Americanism seemed to begin to fade; the memory of this childish endeavor became more vivid with each passing year.

As foreign aggression becomes almost commonplace, the American spirit seems to be fading away. Like Gen. Mac Arthur's “Old Soldier,” the America that many American seniors—especially service veterans—is beginning to fade away; the America, as we knew it, may be passing from the scene, to be replaced by something so dreadful it's best not to even try to visualize it.

The upcoming presidential election will most likely produce the final verdict for America. Will it emerge as the apocryphal “Beacon on the Hill,” or will America become just another third world nation struggling to stay alive?

What deficit?

We should take exception to the term: Attention Deficit Disorder, especially those of us who are blessed with it.

The noun attention is acceptable since a major portion of this psychological difference does tend to focus on the concentration of mental powers. The the old term: Short attention span, was much more accurate and had less of a negative connotation about it.

Now the word deficit presents a lot of problems. This noun has a very negative connotation to it. It suggests that something is lacking in the person to which it is directed.

And disorder suggests confusion or upset. People with ADD aren’t confused. Well, maybe they’re confused as to why they’re labeled the way they are, and they may well be upset over being singled out as some sort of freak in need of special attention. But let's take a look at some who have been so afflicted.

The antics of Sir Winston Churchill, whose behavior as a young student reflected much of what afflicts students with attention deficit disorder: hyperactive . Young Winston, for all his deviations from what was considered the classroom norm, loved to study the English language, and all its rules. Noted Sir Winston: whose behavior as a young student reflect much of students with attention deficit disorder, hyperactive. Sir. Winston, regarding the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition, is quoted as saying: “The rule against not ending a sentence with a preposition is “an imposition up with which I shall not put.

ADD people, like Sir Winston,” are right brain people. They’re more spontaneous, more creative, and less tolerant of people and occasions that are mundane to the point of being boring.

People with ADD are usually discovered in elementary school when they tend to act up in class because they’re bored. As a rule, when the topic of instruction is presented for the first time, they grasp the idea at first telling. “O.K. Got it. Let’s get on with the lesson,” are the thoughts going through their minds. But in the standard classroom, instruction must be reduced to the lowest common denominator, the teacher must contend with “Old Ned in the First Reader,” and slog on repeatedly until he comprehends the matter at hand. In the meanwhile the ADD person has nothing to occupy or challenge his intellect, so he finds diversions—such as cutting up.

Unfortunately, the penal, lock step mentality that prevails in the education community is generally unprepared to cope with the ADD person, so he or she is labeled as disruptive, willful or just plain bad, and is punished for his or her classroom transgressions; usually with a stern letter to the parents.

If the goal of education is imparting knowledge and skills on young minds, why punish those who are eager and willing to learn beyond the scope of the normal classroom? Why must they be ostracized and criticized for possessing the skills and talents one should hope for in a young person: an eagerness and willingness to enhance his or her knowledge?

A half century and more ago, before ADD was discovered, young people with this talent earned the enmity of their tutors when their minds wandered beyond the subject at hand. Either a generous application of the rod or a stern letter home received a temporary return to the path of righteousness, but usually not for long.

Some years ago the pharmaceutical industry gave us a narcotic that would turn otherwise overactive youth into docile zombies less inclined to disrupt the hum drum of the classroom. And ADD and ADHD became the afflictions du jour and eager marketers soon convinced the older population that they probably had Adult ADD. Puhleeez! There’s no adult, adolescent, or juvenile ADD. In fact, it’s all just a product of an overactive imagination on the part of psychologists and educators to label an otherwise normal trait that they’re incapable of addressing.

So, let's not punish students with ADHD; let's encourage them.

 

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