July 4, 2018: Happy Birthday to a Divided United States of America

MISSION, TX – JUNE 12: A boy and father from Honduras are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico Border on June 12, 2018 near Mission, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Commentary

Published July 4, 2018

Across the United States today millions of Americans will attend parades while waving red, white and blue flags as they celebrate the nation’s 242nd birthday. Later, they will eat hot dogs hot off the grill and then tonight they will set off millions of dollars of fireworks much to the dismay of their neighbors who want to catch their sleep so they can go to work tomorrow.

Even with all of this celebrating, this Fourth of July is different from others in recent history because for the first time ever most this nation’s citizens are not feeling the “extreme pride” to be Americans as in years past.

These findings were released Monday in a Gallup poll two days before the nation’s Fourth of July birthday. In the poll, only 47 percent of respondents said they were “extremely proud” when asked how proud they were to be American. The results represent the first time “extemely proud” was not a majority since the Gallup began asking the question 17 years ago. By contrast, the 47 percent who said they were “extremely proud” is down from the peak of 70 percent who said they were “extremely proud” to be American in 2003, less than two years after 9/11.

While the overall poll indicates 53 percent of Americans are not “extremely proud” to be American, a closer look at the poll’s breakdown show a divided United States when gender and skin color are examined:

  • 44 percent of women selected “extremely proud,” a drop from 51 percent in 2017.
  • 51 percent of men responded they were “extremely proud,” unchanged from last year.
  • 33 percent of non-white people are extremely proud to be American, compared with 44 percent in 2017.
  • 54 percent of white respondents picked extremely proud, a one percent drop from 2017.

I found the 33 percent on non-white people who are “extremely proud” to be American an interesting comparison to the 54 percent of white respondents.

Levi Rickert

Welcome to Trump’s America where non-whites are feeling the impact of a truly racist American society where white nationalists who took to the streets with burning torches in Charlottesville were characterized as “good people” by the president of the United States.

Welcome to Trump’s America where Navajo code talkers, who were in the White House Oval Office last November to be honored for their gallant contributions to save democracy during World War II, were subjected to an inappropriate Pocahontas joke by the presidnet of the United States as “Indian-killer” Andrew Jackson’s portrait hung behind them.

Welcome to Trump’s America where photographs of dark-skinned children are held in cages at the southern border of the United States as a means to tell the world that non-Caucasians are not welcome. To American Indians, the photographs have been a stark reminder of the Indian boarding school period when American Indian children were taken from their familial homes and taken hundreds of miles from their parents. The tapes of the children at the border crying out for their parents removed a scab on American Indians memories of Native children left with historical trauma that still negatively impact our families across Indian Country today.

The Gallup poll contained another breakdown worth mentioning. When broken down by political party affiliation, the responses reveal a deeper divide:  32 percent of Democrats said they are “extremely proud,” compared with 74 percent of Republicans. Trump ran on a slogan “Make America great again,” Those who work in race relations knew then that the phrase was filled with code words for something sinister. Even with the complexities that go with political party parties, sadly in America, typically things come down to the color of one’s skin. The supposition is America is great when the Caucasan power-base run the country.

Perception is reality goes an old saying. Sadly, the perceptions of reality differ greatly among Americans in Trump’s America. The poll reveals non-Caucasians are not feeling the American dream much on this Fourth of July as they attempt to get over the Trump’s America nightmare.

Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is publisher and editor of Native News Online.

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