Because ‘Murica

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2015-08-09 – It’s popular with a certain group of liberals to make fun of the patriotism of the right. We sneer at talk of American “exceptionalism.” Don’t these dopes know history? We are smarter and wiser.

Because ‘Murica.

Of course we don’t say “’Murica.” We liberals pronounce it right, not like the wingnuts on the right. We say “America” . . . conveniently forgetting that our homeland was named after an Italian explorer and mapmaker named Amerigo Vespucci. In our abundance of correctness, shouldn’t we call this place Amerigo?

That’s pronounced a-meh-REE-go. But you knew that because you’re so smart. And the folks who say ‘Murica are so dumb.

But what’s so dumb about thinking of your home as a place of opportunity? It may be a statistically difficult thing to believe in, especially if you are not white . . . or you are white and poor. But you have to have something to hope for. No?

According to some, the answer is no. The American Dream is dead. If you are black, there is no hope, and it is just realistic to say that. (And the 1%ers are perfectly happy having the 99% fight over who is more miserable.)

I thought we were the hopey-changey people. Does it make sense to give up? It’s your friggin’ life? If opportunity has been squashed, well work to unsquash it.

The meaning of America is an old debate. Listen to a song from more than half century ago. “America” from the musical West Side Story, to get a little perspective. It’s an old debate. (Click on the link to listen and watch. Lyrics provided for your convenience.)

AMERICA

GIRLS (chorus)
I like to be in America,
Okay by me in America,
Everything free in America –

BERNARDO
For a small fee in America.

ANITA
Buying on credit is so nice.

BERNARDO
One look at us and they charge twice.

ROSALIA
I’ll have my own washing machine.

JUANO
What will you have, though, to keep clean?

ANITA
Skyscrapers bloom in America.

ANOTHER GIRL
Cadillacs zoom in America.

ANOTHER GIRL
Industry boom in America.

BOYS
Twelve in a room in America.

ANITA
Lots of new housing with more space.

BERNARDO
Lots of doors slamming in our face.

ANITA
I’ll get a terrace apartment.

BERNARDO
Better get rid of your accent.

ANITA AND THREE GIRLS
Life can be bright in America.

BERNARDO
If you can fight in America.

ALL GIRLS
Life is all right in America.

ALL BOYS
If you’re all white in America.

(an interlude of WHISTLING and DANCING)

ANITA AND CONSUELO
Here you are free and you have pride.

BERNARDO
Long as you stay on your own side.

ANITA
Free to be anything you choose.

ALL BOYS
Free to wait tables and shine shoes.

BERNARDO
Everywhere grime in America,
Organized crime in America,
Terrible time in America.

ANITA
You forget I’m in America.

(An interlude of MORE DANCING)

BERNARDO
I think I go back to San Juan

ANITA
I know a boat you can get on.

BERNARDO
Everyone there will give big cheer.

ANITA
Everyone there will have moved here.

“America” from West Side Story: Book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

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