By Ed Konecnik
America is not just a place but an idea and an ideal and a way of life.
It is a place where immigrants did not renounce their heritage, but celebrated and shared their diverse cultures, protected by the Constitution and inspired by the American ideal of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This goal and a common language defined the American character and linked our diverse cultures.
The idea that is America, its goodwill and its benevolence has attracted countless refugees and has become a kind of “soup kitchen” for the world. Increased calls for a borderless world, the rise of sanctuary cities and an obsession for diversity is redefining what it means to be an American.
In many neighborhoods, storefronts, signs, and ads are now in a language other than English.
Recently I stood at a once familiar street corner and looked around at the indecipherable signs and posters and I felt excommunicated. A once familiar environment was now alien to me. This is not multiculturalization but multicolonization. Will it be necessary to learn the languages of all the “colonies” in order to communicate with neighbors? If the designation “American” has lost its significance and meaning, then who are we?
My perception of this indecipherable and alien environment is that some of its inhabitants reject the ideals, customs, and traditions we have come to identify as American and which I have come to cherish. It is becoming increasingly unpopular and sometimes even dangerous to identify oneself as “American.” The designation has all but disappeared from our official documents. When responding to questionnaires, we are compelled to select an identity from a plethora of hyphenated subcategories.
It is ironic that I am able to communicate more easily, read more signs, posters, and advertisements in my ancestral homeland than in the beloved land of my birth. Must I emigrate to somewhere else to be finally recognized and accepted simply as an American?