So I’m out running errands today, and up ahead of me, I see a car with a display of American flags, bumper stickers and knick-knacks that could easily win even the toughest Fourth of July display contest. But as I got closer, I noticed that one of the bumper stickers said “I (heart) Gitmo,” the nickname that everyone uses for the military prison the United States runs in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
OK, I thought, that’s an interesting sticker. I guess they’re happy our government is locking away terror suspects. But when I got closer, I saw what the other stickers said: “Jesus Christ is a Republican,” a sticker in the shape of the Pentagon that said, “9-11, We will never forget,” and then the most disturbing sticker of all: An outline of the United States, surrounded by a red, white and blue brick wall, with the words, “Let’s keep America for Americans.”
Now I’m really scratching my head. What do they mean keep America for Americans? So I pull up next to them and discreetly peer into the car. It’s a nice looking suburban couple, probably in their 50s or 60s. Normal-enough looking people. But their bumper sticker makes it sound as if they are laying claim to American soil, yet they were white, which means at some point in the last couple hundred years, their families sailed here, presumably from Europe, and called America their home.
So what gives these people the right to lay claim to this county, as if it were theirs? Even with a public school education from South Carolina, I remember learning that there were people here well before the rest of us showed up. And what about the whole notion of the Great American Melting Pot?
At this point, I couldn’t resist hitting play on the CD player in my car, which just happened to be loaded with some Middle Eastern dance music. Then I got the Glare of Death…the man in the passenger seat looked over at me, semi-snarled, and then rolled up his window as if each turn of the crank were supposed to nudge me closer to a painful death.
When the light turned green, I went on my way, thankful that I live in a country where people can express any opinion they wish, even if it is as ignorant as “Let’s keep America for Americans.” America doesn’t belong to any one person, or any particular belief, or any single ideology. America is Americans, who, thankfully, come in many different colors, languages and ethnicities.