An American is English, French, Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Greek … An American may also be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani, Afghan … An American may also be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache or one of the many other tribes known as Native Americans.
An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim … In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses. An American is also free to believe in no religion.
An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each man and woman to the pursuit of happiness.
An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan: The best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes.
Americans welcome the best, but they also welcome the least. The national symbol of America welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America. Some of them were working in the Twin Towers in the morning of September 11, earning a better life for their families. [I’ve been told that the people in the Towers were from at least 30 and maybe many more other countries, cultures and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.]
So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world. However, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.
So look around you. You may find more Americans in your land than you thought were there. One day they will rise up and overthrow the old, ignorant, tired tyrants that trouble too many lands. Then those lands, too, will join the community of free and prosperous nations. And America will welcome them!
[Written by Peter Ferrara, associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law]