Recently, an investigative report on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico inspired a backlash of irate, confused responses from Latinos all over the globe. One of the interesting points of contention was the use of “American” to describe the United States and her people. For minorities, this word seems to have a rash of conflicting definitions, from the provinces of Argentina to ancient aborigine tongues and even to the frantic, hotheaded people of a certain strange tropical archipelago.
Yet what many of these non-native speakers fail to comprehend is that the terms “United Stateser” or “United Statish” do not exist. There is no easy suffix solution to turn the name of our nation into the moniker of our people. For this reason, the proper word “American” has always stood for the citizens of this great nation. It may have started in colonial times as a colloquialism, but it has long been standardized and formalized and even legalized. This is not a debatable point anywhere within the 50 states of the Union. Simply put, “American” means the people and culture of the United States and NOTHING ELSE.
In addition, “American” also stands for the unique language that citizens of the United States speak. It is a global tongue of peace and commerce that has deviated in many significant ways from Olde English. Indeed, many believe that the label “English” should be dropped for the more appropriate “American” to describe our vital form of international communication. As one widely-respected scholar recently noted:
“For too long, the world’s most important language has been labeled “English” when in truth it’s the American version of this tongue that people in every country from Canada to China rely on. The United States has innovated and matured its lexicon far beyond the attempts of the British. We have invented too many words to count, including “telephone” and “internet,” “meritocracy” and “kindness.” In truth, our native language is simpler, more direct. It is free of any of the obscure and offensive slang so common in Europe. It lends itself to widespread comprehension due to basic grammatical rules and its lack of a heavy accent.” –As Great Britain Fades Into the History Books, Should “English” Be Replaced With “American” to Describe Our Global Language?
So why does this confusion persist? Much of the world beyond the southern border of the United States is poor and violent. In Juarez, Mexico, drug cartels have decimated the police forces. The slums of Brazil and Colombia are infamously enormous. The small, isolated islands that dot the Caribbean suffer from a serious lack of education, or else they’re under the spell of communists in Cuba and Venezuela. There really is little consistency or logic to the Latino way of life outside of the United States.
Education is very important for the minorities and the impoverished of this world and America has always been there to inspire. As a people, we democratized our schooling system and introduced ways to help even the most backward take that first step into the classroom.
Today, we need to make a bold move once again. The incredible symbolism that the United States represents on this planet needs to be protected. It’s the “brand identity” of democracy and peace and justice, so to speak. As the veritable copyright holders of the words “America” and “American,” we need to clarify the language that our Latino brothers and sisters seem so utterly perplexed by.
“Latin America” and “South America” have always been knockoff labels, fly-by-night attempts at cheap imitation. While it’s rather flattering that these ethnic people wish to copy the essence of our nation, their products are less than impressive. In practice, having a poor reproduction out there competing with us actually devalues our brand. “South” America’s drug crime and socialist ethnic uprisings genuinely insult the true meaning of America, where the Rule of Law and democracy are so vital.
Now that the childhood of colonial protection is long over and the lush tropical lands are their very own independent countries, the Latinos need to grow up and formulate their own idea about what nationhood looks like. It won’t be easy. Starting off an education never is, but isn’t about time that the Hispanic people break free of the compassionate, parental arms of the United States? Isn’t it about time they start taking responsibility for themselves?
If the South and Latin Americans are truly serious about having a genuine 21st century national identity, they will abandon their loud, bossy claims to the term “American.” Such a move would earn them an important foundation of respect across the globe. They’ll also receive a hearty pat on the back from the United States, as we Americans are truly hopeful that the Latinos succeed in their grand experiment.
With their exotic heritage and their energetic peoples, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Hispanics south of the border come up with something exciting and colorful to replace the term “American.” From small village squares to the teeming urban expanses, they could hold fantastical competitions! It would be like combining the cutthroat drama of cockfighting with the collective spirit of soccer. There could be televised contests and stadium-sized games, dramatic playoffs and astonishing feats! And when it’s all said and done, there’s a surprising reward for all that hard work: a lifetime of flashy parades and sexy carnivals and fanciful costumes and national holidays to commemorate this wondrous achievement! Hoy Latinos, ¿estás emocionado todavía!!!