Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Native Americans

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Native Americans

Article excerpt

The word "American" evokes certain emotions.

For some individuals, groups, and countries, it provokes a fiercely negative reaction, based on a perceived role of the United States in world affairs. Others will react more positively because of the country's legacy of liberty and freedom.

What about Americans themselves in the 21st century? Like many non-Americans, their feelings of pride and admiration obviously range across a spectrum. But as the calendar inches closer to Independence Day, the desire to measure American values, beliefs, and patriotism takes on even greater importance.

James S. Robbins offers a passionate response to this critical call. Robbins is an author, deputy editor of Rare, member of USA Today's board of contributors, and former senior editorial writer for foreign affairs at The Washington Times. In his powerful new book, Native Americans: Patriotism, Exceptionalism, and the New American Identity, he breaks down the American experience into various categories: citizen, identity, spirit, ideal, dream, values, and so on.

In clear, crisp language, using sharp analytical skills, Robbins treats readers to a scintillating history of American exceptionalism - and what he sees as a desirable path for America's future.

Robbins's term "native American" shouldn't be confused with the more commonly used "Native American." What Robbins is referring to is the fact that he is "indigenous to the North American continent," doesn't consider "himself a hyphenated American ... except maybe suburban-American," and believes his "Americanism needs no prefix or suffix."

While he recognizes that many of his fellow Americans have pride in the nation, he laments that there are some Americans today who are "embarrassed for and ashamed of their fellow citizens."

Why so? Robbins sees American identity as coming under siege from two directions: "globalists seeking to dilute it, and multiculturalists trying to carve it up." While Robbins accepts and appreciates the free-market perspective that globalization "is the Americanizing of the world," he objects to the globalist notion that "the American nation is fading and becoming increasingly irrelevant."

At the same time, Robbins says, multiculturalists see the term "American" being "defined by otherness, by being part of something apart from the whole, ex uno plures. …

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