Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

What defines the American "national identity"?

Asked by Demosthenes (12881points) August 6th, 2021
18 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

What is something that unifies all Americans? Is there anything? Will the United States ever have a national identity the way a smaller European country might?

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cookieman's avatar

There really isn’t one in my opinion. The US is too physically large, generally populated, and geographically and culturally diverse for there to be a single, national identity.

There seems to be more cohesion by region (North East, Deep South, Midwest, etc.) but even then there are outliers and oddballs. New Hampshire is an odd fit for the rest of New England for example.

Also, since ‘individuality’ is so highly regarded here, the instinct seems to be the opposite.

Kropotkin's avatar

Surely it’s thinking you have the greatest country in the whole of history.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

I haven’t thought that way since I was a kid. America is better than some, worse than others. Just being realistic here.

kritiper's avatar

Hot dogs, apple pie, General Motors.

JLeslie's avatar

I used to think most Americans felt proud to have freedom, including religious freedom, large middle class, meritocracy, education for all, equal opportunity, and Democracy. Even if the country had a lot of imperfections, I thought a lot of Americans valued those things, and thought it made our country great, and better than many other countries.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

“You can make your own here, we’ll let you” where else doe that statement ring true?

stanleybmanly's avatar


Jeruba's avatar

We used to have more of a naitonal identity than we do now.

What passed for national identity used to tend to cohere around the lowest common denominator, to the dismay of many of us, but now we don’t even seem to have a common denominator.

product's avatar

@Demosthenes: “Will the United States ever have a national identity the way a smaller European country might?”


Mimishu1995's avatar

If it makes you feel any better, every white foreigner in my country is an American by default. You must have done something right if the first thing people think of is your country :P

The other day I was talking to a jelly friend about my country’s history. At one point I realized to my dismay that I was having difficulty in explaining to my friend how my culture is different from that of China. Apart from our language, our stubborn loyalty, our clothes, and maybe our food, there is just nothing to set us apart from China if you really think about it. Our culture is just so similar to China that I don’t have the right to be upset when someone from outside lump us with China.

And this is a country that has been around for 4000 years.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like my country. If anything, I take great pride in our history of fighting invaders and our loyalty. And that’s enough for me.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Interesting question.

The image engraved from childhood is “land of the free…home of the brave”. As an adult I’ve learned that, among other glorious images of America, this wasn’t necessarily intended to apply to me. If anything, such platitudes create a stupor to induce the masses to ignore the underlying truth of what America really is.

Patty_Melt's avatar

@Mimishu_1995 I find your take interesting, on both my country, and yours.

I would love to host a visit, and show you around. But lately, I feel like if I did, it might not be safe for you to return home.
If visiting influenced you, you might make social slips, non intentionally. I feel that way about people visiting here from a variety of countries. What works for us, could cause real harm somewhere else. While I love my country, and would sacrifice myself to retain the freedom of the people, I can see how being somewhere else could get me into big trouble.

I get mixed feelings. First, there is, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But, how broke does something have to be? And, by what standards is something viewed as broken?

So yeah, I like your comments.
Interesting views.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I’m thinking, turmoil can be survived, when approached intelligently. Could be considered our identity. Our short history shows the good and bad of how turmoil can be addressed.

I think an identity can be objected to when it is viewed by someone who has never lived it, even when not a wrong thing. That is where my thoughts got viewed on another thread out of context. I was speaking from life lived in one environment, while it was perceived by others who may not have any true understanding of my environment.
How can someone choose sides in something, when one side is all they have personally experienced?

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Patty it used to be much safer for me to go to another country. There were people who liked the system and people who weren’t, but they were mostly balanced and the cancel culture wasn’t strong. Now the Internet is getting more aggressive and intolerant toward different opinions. I’m not sure if it’s as safe anymore.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I found out who is responsible.

Pinky and The Brain

Zaku's avatar

If there’s just one, it seems to be about spouting and inadequately questioning truisms and inaccurate blanket statements.

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