A hyphen-nation is one that keeps people permanently divided and focused on identifying (with) differences rather than commonalities.
A hyphen-nation can never really be a “nation” or a “people” with a distinct “nationality” as long as it discourages assimilation and integration of people – even if it insists on homogenization and standardization in all else.
The ideal of a “melting pot” was replaced by a “patchwork quilt” – that often seems unraveling. Emphasizing “diversity” – especially based on superficial appearance and “ancestry” – is detrimental to both individuals and countries. So is the idea that maintaining “multicultural” differences is more important than a united cohesive cooperative society. We are all unique – and thus inherently NOT “equal”. We should not pretend otherwise. We should also not forget that adding ingredients does not cause anyone or anything to lose their essence or individual identity – but does often improve the whole a result. We are holons – whole parts made up of whole parts. So is society.
Synergy requires contribution from all so that all are better together than apart. This is NOT the same as redistributive collectivism, communism, or socialism. The original meaning of “competition” was to bring out the best in both oneself and others. It was actually a form of cooperative collaboration and synergy. A hyphen weakens a nation – and is as unneeded as hen hype.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“United we Stand. Divided we fall”
There is a big difference between individual freedom, liberty, and personal expression and viewing everyone as a member of some subgroup (always in need of “representation”, “consideration”, special “rights” or “allowances”).
It is long past time to end “affirmative action” and attention to demographic differences – and instead focus on individuals (as more than just a member of some group they may or may not not identify with or consider themselves “belonging” to). It is time to think of each as one of “us” rather than not.
To anyone in Africa, an “African-American” is actually just an “American” – regardless of skin color. The same thinking is shared by most countries and cultures regarding whatever is added with a hyphen in front of “American”.
To call someone an African, European, or Asian, or even an American doesn’t really provide much meaningful information about them as an individual. Not everyone is the same – but we do not need to list everyone’s “differences” or make some more important than all others to identify ourselves or others.
Are Russians considered European, Asian, both – or neither and just Russian? India is in Asia – as is the Middle East. Are those in this region with very dark skin considered to be black, white, Asian, or require a label all their own?
Most Caucasians are not “white” – but we don’t label them Black-CaucAsians, or Red, Yellow, or Brown ones – the way some people hyphenate “Hispanic” (since simply speaking Spanish is apparently not considered colorful enough).
One of the reasons there are so many problems with the “European Union” is that there really is no such thing as a European! There are many differences between the people(s) living in each country on each “continent” – and often also between each region of each country (in the world).
Is there any benefit to dividing into smaller and smaller categories and all areas of the world and the populations in them based upon any number of “demographic” criteria? Only if we allow each (sub)group corresponding independence, autonomy, sovereignty, and self-determination – instead of having to belong to artificially created heterogeneous “nation-states”.
The people of the United States of America are not the only “Americans” – just the only ones that usually use that term. The people of Mexico are also not only “Americans” but also live in United States – even without crossing their northern border. Canadians are also “Americans”. So are the people of all the countries south of Mexico – possibly even including of all those living on islands. Puerto Ricans are Americans citizens – as are those living in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Americans” also live on many islands in the Pacific = and not just in the State of Hawaii. Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands are the best known American (occupied or administered) “territories” – but far from all of them. The U.S. restricts most “American” travel to Cuba – especially to the American military base (detention facility) overlooking Guantanamo Bay (unless being sent from the “American” areas of Iraq or Afghanistan). The Canal Zone of Panama was until recently “American” – as still are many other “zones” and “territories” . The list of former “territories” once “belonging” to the United States is quite long.
If we want the term “American” to mean more than just someone living on one of two western continents or resident of territory somehow “belonging” to the United States Government, we would be wise to not hyphenate our identities and accept each other as more than members of smaller special interest groups in need of specification for identification in a hyphen-nation.
That’s my perspective. What’s yours?
© 2012, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.