A while back, one of my colleagues corrected herself after using the word “Americans” to refer to well, some Americans. She then changed it to “North Americans”. There is something that borders (pardon the pun) on silliness about this whole thing.
First of all, the idea that using American is somehow inaccurate or elitist just plain ignores the facts. I am a citizen of the United States of America. No other country uses America in its official name that I am aware of. It is not Canada of America, Brazil of America or Mexico of America. Latin America is not a country.
Second, her correction was no correction at all. If citizens of the US were to start calling themselves North Americans, the Canadians (from the United Provinces of Canada?) could then object.
Third, do the people in Mexico really want to think of themselves as Americans when the Iranians or Saudis pile into their streets chanting “Death to America” or the Europeans march with their signs condemning those awful “Americans”? I think not.
Fourth, it is too late. If somebody wanted to start complaining about this they should have started hundreds of years ago.
Fifth, it is strange to see Americans self-flagellating over this when they rarely offer a reasonable alternative. USAer? United Stateser? We speak USEse?
Sixth, if other Latin American countries want to use American, let them have at it. When I use “American” it is not done with any sort of exclusivity in attitude. I do mean citizens of the USA. But if others want to use it, who is going to stop them?
Seventh, This has been tried numerous times before and it has failed every time.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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