July 20, 2004

She Was An American Girl

J. -- born and bred in California, with American-born parents -- used to proudly proclaim (and actually believe) she was ... well, I won't give away what nationality(s) she claimed, she can tell you if she wants (she told me, many times).

But she never seemed to notice that her belief that she was something else was one of the most American things about her -- it almost defined her as American. Like all those stridently self-proclaimed "Irish" or "Scottish" or "African" or whatever Americans -- always deeply, truly American, especially when they open their mouths (or close their minds) to proclaim their Irishness or Scottishness or whatever. People who've never seen the homelands of their supposed ancestors, and whose sentimental attachments to something that never existed nearly always comes up against the ugly reality, and who are typically seen as (loud) Americans in those "homelands".

All those fifth-generation Americans who call themselves "Irish" but can't pronounce "Celtic", let alone "Caitlin" or "Ciaran"...


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