Don't tread on me
Americans, of course, are known historically for combativeness. We are stirred by patriotic slogans like "Don't tread on me" and "Live free or die". One of the reasons that the Civil War was so long and so bloody was that Americans were fighting Americans. Our icon is the cowboy, whose six-shooter is for killing snakes and bad men.
So am I just some sort of decadent. post-American effete academic snob?
This post at the Diplomad tells about a movement in the EU, in the wake of the Prince Harry furor, to ban Nazi symbols throughout Europe. When I read it, my hackles were definitely raised.
Nazis -- sure, I hate those guys. But this is bigger than Nazis. It is pretty clear that a lot of Europeans just don't comprehend the whole free-speech thing. The Brits and the Canadians are better, but even they go wobbly from time to time. Don't they get it? Don't they understand that a government that can outlaw stupid speech to promote peace and harmony can also outlaw important speech for less admirable reasons? Don't they see that this is exactly the difference between being servants of the state and citizens whom the state must serve? Or maybe they do understand; they just think that the state should be in charge of the people. Well, who the heck do these guys think they are? I'd like to see them try that sort of crud on this side of the pond! Idiots. Weasels. Makes me glad we cut the cord in 1776.
Hmmm. Seems I may have some American DNA after all. This is interesting. Because if that sort of underlying reflex is still alive in an decadent effete academic snob like me, then it remains a powerful force, no matter what the chattering classes say.
"American" is not an ethnicity, not a genetic identity. It never has been, really, and is less so as the decades go on. It is a memetic identity, a set of learned instincts that are transmitted from generation to generation. And the most powerful of these has to do with freedom, and with our indomitable willingness to defend it.
Update: Edited to soften language somewhat. Hmmm. My hackles were raised.