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Mythical White Christian America

America, it’s been said, is a “patchwork quilt.” Irish hands helped build the Erie Canal, and Chinese immigrants went to work on the transcontinental railroad, making cross-country travel possible “from sea to shining sea.” America’s present-day economic might was paid for in flesh by millions of African slaves – whipped, beaten, and forced to toil in a foreign land. The 20th century saw more of the same. Jews, Italians, Blacks and Latinos have all relied on the strides made in small business, politics, entertainment and sports to pull their communities out of powerlessness and destitution.

Today, Blacks work the assembly line in Detroit while Latin American migrants work the fields in the heartland. Americans enjoy the day off on MLK Day, parade through the center of town on St. Patrick’s Day, reach for a Mexican beer on Cinco de Mayo, and enjoy the day off and parade again on Columbus Day; on the Fourth of July, everybody gets together to barbecue, gaze up at the fireworks and wave mini American flags.

America is, if anything, multicultural.

So I take umbrage to certain talk of America being weakened by its diversity. While GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum tells his followers that secularism is dividing America, paleoconservative commentator Pat Buchanan publishes a book suggesting that multiculturalism may lead to the demise of Western civilization. Both men seem to subscribe to the fashionable yet spurious notion that America was founded as an immaculately white and Christian nation.

Addressing the fallacy that America was founded as a Christian nation, nowhere does the word “God” appear in the more than 4500 original words of the U.S. Constitution; in fact, a supreme being is not mentioned at all, and as a 1796 treaty signed by President Adams asserts unequivocally, “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.” The founders, in their infinite wisdom, saw fit to form a purely secular government, notwithstanding the country’s Puritanic beginnings.

As to America being a white nation, while all of the signers of the Constitution were indeed white, and the nation’s early laws designated power and privilege as the exclusive claim of white Americans, the United States has never been a mono-ethnic nation, because America has never been defined by its border or its people, but by a singular idea: liberty.

Liberty is not an ethnic or religious principle; it’s a universal one. The founders determined that human beings are naturally free, and that it’s the sole charge of a government composed by free people to ensure that individual freedoms are protected from threats “foreign and domestic.” Since 1787, our notion of freedom has expanded, from the addition of the Bill of Rights in 1789, to the “Second Bill of Rights” proposed by President Roosevelt in 1944, which included, among other things, the right to employment, housing and medical care.

Americans should not be judged by the color of their skin or their place of worship, but by how they devote themselves to freedom, justice and equality. These three virtues alone unite us as a people – the American people – more than race or dogma ever could.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. God bless you

  2. Almost 99% true!!! You forgot to mention the religios background of those that wrote The US Constitution.

  3. Great piece, you hit it right on the head!

  4. That will help me start my day as a principal at a diverse school with even more inspiration. Thank you

  5. Great! Tired of hearing people gripe about multiculturalism without even understanding what it is. So glad to see more articles on this topic. :)

  6. Christianity isn’t a white religion. Our roots come from eastern land, Isreal.

  7. “Americans should not be judged by the color of their skin or their place of worship, but by how they devote themselves to freedom, [justice and equality.] ”

    emphasis is mine….excellent article.

  8. I enjoyed your article but I will say this. Although there are many positive aspects of multiculturalism, there is one danger to it. It’s the loss of our own culture. It’s great to celebrate and embrace other’s culture to share and accept but not at the expense of our own. New generations being born into this country of latino parents are losing the richness and value of the culture of the country they are from. Many hispanic american children aren’t even learning how to speak Spanish! This is where multiculturalism is dangerous. We are slowly losing our own culture to this “multiculturalism”. We are slowly becoming your typical “americans” whose culture is consumerism and capitalism. That’s what’s happened to other immigrant communities and it’s very slowly happening to us. I see it in my own brother.

  9. I think you need to read the 1797 treaty, US-Bey relations, the Barbary pirates situation, the journey of the treaty, and then the defeat of the Barbary pirates in 1803 by the US Marines. Article 11 of the treaty has been discussed many times, and shouldn’t be taken as fiat that the US was not created as a Christian nation.

  10. Very true. Great piece. Iz

  11. @ Susana Sabogal The minute we made the decision to leave our countries and and be part of this United States we agree to embraced this culture. We can’t have it both ways…I left my country of Mexico to scape my own familia’s culture of abuse which I want no part of. I have raise my children to be proud Americans and if that means they can’t speak Spanish then be it!

  12. RIGHT ON! Love this piece! Exactly, exactly, exactly. Santorum and his ilk are a threat, a danger to this country. Incredible how anyone could justify the words of these less than intelligent individuals.

  13. The country should MOST DEFINITELY NOT BE CALLED A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY! Separation of church and state!!!

  14. Sharing this!

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