This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … pride in your homeland.
That’s right, Pedro, I’m talking to you. Stop waving that silly Hondur-Salva-Puerto flag. And I’m talking to you, too, Finis O’McSeannigan. Cover up that shamrock tattoo, dump out that Guinness, and – for love of Christ – no one wears green. And not so fast there, Guido Something-that-ends-in-“oni”-or-“elli.” Put down that cappuccino and slowly step away from the Italian-American parade.
I’m certainly not some jingoistic love-it-or-leave-it America red-stater, but damn it, if you’re more than one generation removed from whatever godforsaken country your ancestors came from, you’re an American and that’s that. Stop celebrating some phony ideal of a homeland that has never existed for you. If the land of your great grandpa is so wonderful, why hasn’t anyone in your family moved back there since your first brave ancestors hopped on a boat and got the hell out of the Land of Famine, or the Home of Despots, or the country of What Is This Indoor Plumbing Thing of Which You Speak, My Friend?
I’ll never understand why someone wants to pay tribute to a land that wasn’t good enough to remain in. If doing a Tamburitzan dance or eating borscht is so great, why did millions leave the home of those silly dances or that delectable gruel? I have a friend who owns – and actually wears to the annual Renaissance Festival – a kilt. ($39.99 at Tools R Us.) He also likes to drink “the good scotch.” (Note to self: Future Overrated column … people and their mind numbingly boring sermons extolling the sublimity of single malts.) He pedantically informed me that “Glendfiddich” is pronounced “GlenfiddiCK.” But he’s never actually been to Scotland. I’m guessing that’s because there’s nothing much there to do or see. But still, he’s got to represent with his skirt and overpriced liquor.
What pisses me off most about celebrating one’s ethnicity is that it’s a one-sided bullshitfest. These quasi-nationalists are fine with bragging about some cultural aspect that gives them a pathetic feeling of cultural superiority. Hispanics cling to their “passion” for life. (We white people just drift through our days in comas, I guess.) Italian males boast about what prolific sex machines they are. (I know my Anglo-ass has always been pretty ambivalent about pussy.) Ask any German-American and he’ll tell you that he’s smarter than anyone else. (Yeah, your distant relatives make a good car, but um, they haven’t exactly parlayed that engineering thing into battlefield superiority lately, have they? The goddamn Cubs have won a World Series more recently than 8th cousin Franz and friends have won a war.)
If you’re going to claim that your culture or race or nationality is in some ways special and superior, then, if logic is allowed to enter the conversation, you also have to concede the negative stereotypes your hilariously indignant defamation leagues so vehemently condemn.
Now, I might be a crusty curmudgeon who doesn’t give two shits about what most people think of my iconoclastic views, but I ain’t no dummy. I’m not going to run off a list of each culture’s negative stereotypes, then have the Jupiter-sized balls and peanut-sized brain to try to prove that they’re based on some degree of truth. But I think you know what I’m saying. If you claim that your people are special, then it has to be true both ways.
So please, scale back all that ethnic crap. The minute some brave ancestor stepped off a boat or plane and into this scalding melting pot, he ceded for you the right to laud the greatness of the country he left. You don’t get to claim all the good parts. You’re a mutt now, just like the rest of us. You can brag about what it means to be an American. You know, like eating shit foods to the point obesity, bombing people whose skin is not white and paying more attention to Brett Favre’s cock-shots than the upcoming elections.
I swear, I’m not xenophobic or racist. I would hate to live in an all-white, all-Anglo America. I mean, I’ve been to Ohio. It’s awful.
I just don’t like people bragging about things that aren’t earned. Taking pride in your ethnic heritage is like taking pride in being tall or being fast. You didn’t accomplish those traits. You were born with them.
So if you’re a second or third or eighth generation American, put away all the paraphernalia from an “old country” that has never truly existed for you. Embrace the fact that you’re an American slob and celebrate that. How? I don’t know … go eat yourself into oblivion at some all-you-can-eat smorgasbord. I suggest a name that anyone filled with ethnic pride should appreciate – the “Old Country Buffet.”
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.