Answer me this #14

January 30, 2010

in Answer me this

If you are an American:

What does the term “un-American” mean to you?

If you are not an American:

Is there a phrase in your country that says, “That’s un-[YourNationality].”

If so, what does it mean?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

Mostly, it means people who don’t eat hamburgers.

I remember the first time we encountered a veggie burger in a fast food restaurant. I started crying because I finally felt like an American, going to the fixings bar with my burger, just an old red-blooded American girl with her burger. I know it sounds silly, but I associate meat-eating with being American.

I think Alana’s point is really brilliant.

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excavator April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

I haven’t read the others’ thoughts so as to not bias my own, so this may be a repetition of what’s already been said.

I would venture that “unAmerican” refers to anything which is contrary to the values that are at the core of our nation’s founding, particularly human rights, fairness, governance by consent, and a say in decisions that affect our lives. Funny, though–we don’t say,”un-United States”, since the term “America” refers to more than one nation.

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G-Man April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

I believe it was initially meant to refer to anyone that was a Communist or a Socialist. After we single handedly won WWII, and decreed that Democracy was the will of God, any totalitarian government was the Spawn of Satan, and should be supressed or eradicated!!!
If you didn’t believe in the Glory and Destiny of Democracy, you were “Un-American”!

Of course I may be totally wrong..:P

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areyoukiddingme April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

To me, “un-American” is simply said in jest…like when I talk about how I’m not a big fan of pizza.

I use anti-American when I hear criticism of American ideals (religious freedom, freedom of speech) or American way of life (McMansions, SUVs, fast food), because that always sounds more like jealousy of our large variety of choices.

I get the impression that other countries are less nationalistic than we are, but more invested in their local community or family tree. We have that tendency when we talk to people from our local community, but not when we talk to someone from out of the area. Like, you might realize that there’s a difference between Cherry Creek and Capitol Hill, but you don’t bother to mention it when you’re talking to someone from New York.

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May April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

I agree wholeheartedly with Alana. I find it sad that the people publicly bandying about the term un-American seem, to me, to have completely lost sight of what it was our country’s founders were trying to create. Freedom and equality for all. Period. Sure, I’d like to be 100% safe when I fly, and to have unfettered access to every social program ever imagined, without having to pay any taxes. Look! A homeland-protected, flying porcine with free health insurance!!!!

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My name is Andy. April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

About the only thing that comes to mind as being “un-Canadian” is people who don’t like Tim Horton’s coffee!

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Alana April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

Interesting question. (I’m intrigued to learn if other countries have similar words…)

To me “un-American” means a person who doesn’t believe in traditionally American ideals. For example, someone who refuses to pledge to the flag—is NOT unAmerican, because they are simply expressing their inherent freedoms. However someone who lashed out against non-flag pledgers WOULD be unAmerican, by trying to deny others the expression of their rights.

I hope I’m making sense here…I haven’t had any caffeine yet today. :)

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Mama Zen April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

If I hear someone say “un-American,” I immediately think that that person has been watching too much Fox News!

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Billy April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

We have the word Goy in Hebrew, which means non-Jewish, though I think used more for “the rest of the world” than for Arabs etc. living here.
In a land dominated a lot by religion, it does carry its meaning (for eg, paradoxically the fact that my sperm donor was a Goy, means less chance of my daughter having difficulties if and when she’ll want to marry).

P.S
Never heard of the term un-American :-).

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luna April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

I didn’t come to answer the question, only to say that when I saw this in my reader, an ad popped up for a loving (two mom) couple looking to adopt a child and I actually know them! thought that was kind of cool.

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PFM April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

more and more the term un-American is losing its meaning. We have so many different cultures and traditions. The most definitive un-American thing would be a lack of patriotism.
Like others I would say that un-American can refer to less intense topics such as those who don’t like apple pie, jazz, football. Alana’s post is great.

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DrSpouse April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

I am American and British – to me “un-American” would either be associated with the HUAC or just be a joke about something like eating French toast with ketchup. Anti-American would have to be something political or a sweeping statement – not something like denigrating the American way of life per se, it would have to be saying it was awful because it is American. Many Americans don’t think McMansions are a great idea!

Un-English or un-British would probably be a joke, having cream in your tea springs to mind (!) or perhaps speaking to strangers in public (though this is changing).

Anti-British probably only comes up in terms of terrorism, or maybe Iran thinking we are “little Satan”.

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loribeth April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

LOL at Andy.

I suppose some people would think it unCanadian to say you’re not interested in hockey. I can’t say I NEVER watch it but it’s certainly not my first choice for TV fare on a Saturday night. (If I have to watch hockey, I prefer to see the game live than to watch it on TV.)

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MrsSpock April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

It’s a term used too often against people whose politics disagree with ones own.

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