Contemplating American culture

Cultural Insights — By on July 4, 2006 at 6:33 am

Happy July 4th, Americans!  Today seems like a good day to contemplate some of the many facets of American culture.

First, an article from the Journal Star of Lincoln, Nebraska, that examines some of what it means to be an American:

Unlike many other countries where blood and birth define citizenship, America is a nation of immigrants – a nation of people from different cultures, different countries, speaking different languages, praying to different gods. … Said Straughn, “The United States is one of the few countries where you can be an American – a genuine American – just by accepting the ideals the country is founded on and by being a citizen.”

The article also notes:

Americans tend to see themselves and their country as exceptionally good, divinely inspired to bring freedom to the rest of the world, said David Forsythe, professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. … Because this value is so deeply rooted, Americans often are genuinely shocked when others in the world see us in a negative light, Forsythe said.

Of course, it’s not possible to discuss American culture without considering its ethnic diversity, immigrant roots and ever-changing face.  Hence, an interesting piece of news this week was that the U.S. expects its population to reach 300 million by this fall and that a significant percentage of the annual population increase is attributed to the Hispanic community.

Finally, another undeniable attribute of American culture is its religious diversity.  So, some food for thought can be found in two other articles, which look at how both Muslims and evangelical Christians have struggled to reconcile their faiths with the predominant U.S. culture.

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