What Does This Mean?

     What does it mean to be an American?
     I thought it meant that you lived here, but apparently there’s more to it than that. In fact, at this point, I’m not even sure I’m officially American any more. I’m way too boring.
     This conclusion came to me after spotting an intriguing press release headline last week: “Sandra Day O’Connor, Anna Maria Chavez and Eddie Van Halen Launch Smithsonian/Zocalo Initiative.”
     Now there’s something I never thought I’d see – a former Supreme Court justice replacing David Lee Roth on vocals. How cool is that?
     Imagine my disappointment to find out that O’Connor and Van Halen are going to be at separate events. Those Smithsonian/Zocalo people are no fun.
     The events are part of a project called “What It Means To Be an American” that is supposed to “foster a national conversation” about the topic.
     Why we need this conversation I have no idea. And it gets even more confusing when you visit whatitmeanstobeamerican.org where (last week, anyway), the top item was “A Stranger in Africa” accompanied by a photo of a smiling group of people – in Africa.
     Below this was another story with the headline: “Home Is Where the Border Is – Living in the Space Between Two Countries Forces You to Rethink Your Definition of Community.”
     Maybe we get to America later in the discussion.
     As far as I can tell from what’s on the site so far, the answer is that there are a whole lot of different kinds of people in the United States and I think most of us already knew that.
     But maybe that’s just me being cynical (or American because I live here). After all, some of this discussion could be a whole lot of fun.
     The press release, for example, says: “The website will also feature an interactive component, asking questions such as, ‘Where would you take George Washington to help him understand America today?'”
     I absolutely love that question and I think all of you should submit answers.
     I’d start George off with strip clubs. Then on to Vegas for, among other things, some gay marriage ceremonies officiated by Elvis.
     Then we’d visit some gun shows and a Lady Gaga concert. Since George is a pretty famous guy, I bet we could book him a guest spot on a Kardashian show.
     Then I’d introduce George to Honey Boo Boo, and Duck Dynasty and Tinder. (Hmm, what kind of woman could resist an old-fashioned military type with a white wig?)
     Top it all off with a visit to Mt. Rushmore to blow his mind.
     I so want to do this.
     By the way, you can also participate in this conversation on Twitter using #WIMTBA. There are already a whole bunch of posts.
     My favorite so far: “One Civil War regiment from Wisconsin had 115 soldiers named Ole http://bit.ly/1FLackX # WIMTBA.”
     That must have been confusing.
     As an additionally entertaining exercise, come up with more “interactive” questions for the project.
     Some examples:
     “Where would you take Adolf Hitler to help him understand America today?”
     If time travelers to the past have all failed to kill Hitler, there’s no reason he should escape punishment when brought into the future.
     “If Americans get any fatter, is the country in danger of falling through the Earth’s crust?”
     “Since America is so great, shouldn’t everyone in the world live here?”
     “Who would win in a fight – Captain America or American Idol?”
     “Wouldn’t it make more sense for all American states to be exactly the same shape and size?”
     “Ginger or Mary Ann?”
     There’s so much to discuss.

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