Did you watch the Olympics that just ended? I would say that if you didn't then you're probably in the minority. I love the Olympics and tried to watch as much of it as possible. I do have to say, though, that I was pretty disappointed in the water polo event. I tuned in to see the horses and apparently they all drowned in the first match so there weren't any to watch. (Sorry about that but I just couldn't resist. Melody has taken to ignoring my bad jokes so I have to get them out of my system somehow).
While the competition is always intense (except for the badminton debacle – come on give me a break – badminton?) the Olympic games always seem to bring out the best in the way of international goodwill among the participants. And, of course, there is the national pride that's on display every time the national anthem of the winners is played. And that's what I want to talk about in today's column – national pride.
I didn't see this incident happen but I read about it a couple of days later. Apparently one of the American runners held up both an American flag and a Mexican flag after winning a silver medal. The columnist whose column I was reading referred to the runner as a Mexican-American and went to great lengths to defend his actions as well as to point out that this "flap" all stems from an anti-Hispanic bias in this country. In the column she talks about ethnic pride and how the reaction would have been different if it was an Irish naturalized citizen instead of a Mexican.
I can't and won't speak for anyone besides myself but I am offended by the mere thought of someone on the American team holding up any other flag besides ours. I don't care if it is the Irish flag, the Mexican flag or the Union Jack. If you are representing this country then you are representing this country and no one else. End of story.
This country was built on immigrants – we all came from somewhere else (except for some of the Native American tribes) and we should have pride in who we are and where we came from. Personally, my family roots are in England (with a lot of other ethnicities kind of thrown in here and there) but I sure don't refer to myself as an English-American and the thought would never even cross my mind to do so.
If you are a citizen of this country (born or naturalized) then you are an American and nothing else. If you don't want to assume that title then either move or don't go through the process of getting citizenship. This whole hyphenated American issue is one of the major problems in our nation today. Our loyalties seem to be divided depending on the situation we are in.
And this goes beyond race and culture and spills over into the political arena. When our elected leaders quit being Americans first and place party politics over national needs then that is just as wrong as calling yourself a hyphenated American.
Let me make it perfectly clear that I have no problem whatsoever in people celebrating Oktoberfest, Cinco De Mayo, St. Patrick's Day or any other kind of observance to commemorate their ethnic pride. In fact, I enjoy going to them and genuinely appreciate the opportunity to learn more about different cultures. I think that it's essential that we never forget who we are and where we come from.
But, a celebration of your ethnicity should never be confused with your title of American. That title is something to be cherished and worn with pride and it shouldn't come with a hyphen. And if you are not willing to do that then I sure don't want you representing this country. If you think that makes me a racist or a bigot then you better look up the definition of those words.
It is a dishonor to the millions of brave patriots who have fought and died for this great nation for some people to decide that it's not enough to be called just an American. I can tell you that it's good enough for me and I proudly wear that title.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.