I guess this where I am supposed to say I am proud to be an American. I mean, I always have been. I grew up during the Cold War with Russia with many of my childhood fears heavily influenced by thoughts of nuclear war and the potential for Russian tanks to eventually roll up on my front lawn. So in relation to that alternative, I have always been a proud American because Communism has never felt like the right answer to me. Dictatorships, terrorism….all that stuff is not an acceptable alternative for humanity.

But what does it mean to be an American? I only just asked myself this question today and it’s baffling to break it down.

This country belongs to Native Americans. The British invaded this country, originally, as people who had enough wealth to get here so they could own land and become even wealthier. Those were the folks all the way up to the Pilgrims. I am glossing over about a hundred years because this is a blog. If I were submitting this as a paper it would be cited and have a bibliography with pages upon pages dedicated to orderly time periods of American transition. The blog is more about making a point and provoking thought.

So we came here for land. Land we stole from Native Americans. Then, some wealthy people didn’t like being told how to worship so they came here to practice religion on their own terms. Between that and a few other arguments, we went to war against England to protect our freedoms which eventually led us to write a constitution. Funny, we didn’t feel Native Americans had rights when we stole their land and killed them but I guess not much has changed in a few hundred years.

Every 4th of July we celebrate this fight for Independence. We sit on our beach chairs. We drink beers. We eat chips and guacamole, have cookouts and get drunk with friends. We watch fireworks with our kids because we have been checking the local papers to see which towns are setting them off and when. We don’t think much about the war for Independence or the many roads which led us there. We don’t think about what freedom meant to a microcosm of people at that time….a group of people who were divergent from those in their homeland. We edit out what is unpleasant and turn it into a reason to go car shopping or for long weekends….a day off from work.

We came here to own land. We came here to practice religion. We weren’t fleeing drug cartels, rapists, gangs and murderers. The lives of their children were not in danger. They were not fleeing poverty or starvation in the first few waves of migration. They were traveling on white privilege. They didn’t have it that hard at home in the first place. Later waves of migration were fleeing danger but not the initial ones. They were looking for more privilege.

I am not sure they truly understood what they were asking for with freedom of speech, press and all the like because that means being accepting to more people than present day Americans feel they want to. You can practice your religion here but not Muslim. You can flee your country and come but only if you are white from Norway. You can fall in love with anyone you want and not have an arranged marriage but, if you are gay, you can’t have a cake. The Irish, the Italians, the Jewish….they are all finally ok ( they were heavily discriminated against at the time) but if you are from Mexico, Central or South America you can’t come because you are a drug dealer, rapist or lazy person looking to suck off the American tit. Funny, because I worked in a restaurant before and never saw any privileged white boys working the dishwashers. The only people I see sucking off the American tit are people who look like me – lazy white, capable ” Americans” who have found loopholes into entitlements designed for the truly willing but totally incapable.

Maybe it’s my Irish heritage which gives me some empathy. People from my country were fleeing British genocide during the Great Famine. Those who were able to make it here took the vilest of all the jobs because they were thankful to be here and wanted to contribute, work hard and give their families a better life than they fled. I have to believe that these families who spend months trying to get across the border in Texas with their children are fleeing for their lives….not to buy nicer land and getting to church eventually would be a nice to have but not a need to have at the moment.

I am not naive. I understand the drug business. I also understand that there may actually be situations when the US government has profited off the chaos of cartels,in South America…do some digging into George Bush Sr’s time in government before becoming President. There’s some “look the other way” in there. Watch Narcos. The drugs aren’t all from south of the border. There’s plenty of corruption coming from parts of Europe as well. And people from south of the border aren’t all rapists. My rapist was a white boy from New Hampshire. The only people who have ever offered me drugs have been privileged white kids. And I have skin in the drug game…one of my closest friends died of an overdose nearly three years ago. And no, time does not heal. I still think about him every day. So I am not being a Pollyanna about these things. My eyes are wide open.

With recent shake up in the Supreme Court…frankly, the Holy Grail of what Republicans have been fighting for this whole time, there is going to be a war on women. And while we are all fighting tooth and nail on that, LGBT rights will be signed away in the dark of the night because we got distracted. Women will still lose too. It will somehow be ok to tell me how to manage my own body because Republicans can find you a slew of crazy, privileged white women who say raising 10 kids can and should be done for all since they can do it….(look at the female Supreme Court nominee Trump is behind….7 kids, one with Downs Syndrome and 2 adopted ….I want to be wrong on this but I bet she’s going to be one of the ones who is pro life because if she can do it and have a successful career, why can’t all of us?)

Driving home from the Cape today I was thinking about the Handmaids Tale and actually wondered what it would be like to have my credit card shut down and lose my job because I am a woman. Her husband told her he would still take care of her which is great but why should she have to be looked after? And what if that happens and I don’t even have a guy to look after me? I have no child bearing value. I support gay rights. I will be banished to a terrible work camp for the rest of my life. You laugh at the exaggeration. I cringe at the very, very, very real possibility.

So what is it really to be an American right now? What is it to be a proud American right now? It seems to me it’s a lot like building ones own life but lacking tolerance for the ways of others. It’s ok we all got here to this country without admitting it was in the smallpox of blankets handed out to Native Americans so they would die and the slaves we stole from America who we later wouldn’t share bathrooms and water fountains with when we were the reason they were here in the first place. Their families didn’t choose to come here. We literally kidnapped them, whipped them, taped the, made them work for us and then wouldn’t share rights without wars and riots. We attacked them with fire hoses, dogs and mace when they tried to exert their rights. We hung them from trees. Americans did that. Our ancestors did that. And it’s their offspring several generations later who want to dictate who can and cannot enter this country, what kind of healthcare women can pursue and want gay people can eat at their weddings….if they even get to keep their weddings.

I can say I am proud to be a Dolan. I am a proud daughter and sister. I am proud to be a part of my various circles of friends. I am proud to question what is happening around us. But I don’t know that any of that is truly American. I think it’s just me and a handful of people I know who are realistic about how we all got to be born here. But we aren’t the ones running this country right now and that frightens me. Doesn’t it frighten you? When you are drinking your 4th of July margarita and eating your cheeseburger and potato salad, will you be thinking of those families who are just trying to survive by getting to this country or will you just be thinking about what’s for dessert?