Thursday, January 06, 2011

Throwing water on the flame that is the American Dream

The American Dream is under fire.  It is not under fire by the Obama Administration, but by a group of Republican state legislators who want the Constitution redefined to deny so called "natural born citizenship" by children born in this country to so called "illegals."  

It sounds good, doesn't it?  Let's keep America for Americans, right?  Well, that is not the true American dream.  That is not the promise of America.  And, frankly that is not a true conservative's take on the constitution.  

Since the adoption of the 14th Amendment, the constitutional provision in question, the United States went from a third rate world power just out of Civil War to the biggest economic and military power the world has ever known.  Freedom gave that leap to power.  America became a place in which those who wanted to have their children reach their full potential and live free came.  The United States became, as Ronald Reagan once put it, "the shining city on the hill" that all wanted to become a part of.  It became a place where hope was found and that immigrants could find a better life.  

Now, some of those who thump their chests in righteous indignation about our constitution want it redefined so that government can limit the freedom and opportunities of those not like them.  

Such has happened before.  In the mid 19th Century, before warm bodies were needed for the United States Army in the Civil War, Irish were scorned by so called natives.  During, the early 1930s, an American Nazi movement and the Ku Klux Klan rose up to keep America American.  Those movements ended up on the trash heap of history where they belonged, along with the Old South Democrats and their idea of Jim Crow. 

For being American is not just being from the United States.  It is believing in an ideal.  It is believing in freedom.  It is taking a chance to have a better life.  One commentator summed up America nearly two centuries ago when he said, "the cowards never made the trip, the weak died during it, and only the strong made it."   That, my fellow Americans, is the stock we are made of.  Outside a few tribes of Native Americans, not one political leader this day can claim not to come from immigrants, some legal, some illegal.  But, making it here was a show of strength.  That is a trait that made America what it is.  

For some politicians to now be afraid of that freedom and that courage is disheartening.  It goes against the heart of the American Ideal.  Freedom cannot be just for a few.  For freedom to work, it must include all.  That includes the Central American mother who cleans houses and gives birth to a baby.  That baby is an American citizen today and should remain one.  For that baby could be the next Henry Ford or Bill Gates or even more.  Fretting over paying for that child's status might make some feel better, but it throws water on the flame that is the American Dream.  America is stronger than that.  America is better than that.  

For, if we ever become so weak of a people that we are afraid of such things, then we no longer are a special nation.  We are just lines on the world political map.  And, we will join other nations that once rose to prominence with high ideals and lost their power due to our own fears to keep the dreams that made us alive.

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