What is an American?

According to an urban legend going around in late 2002, there was a
report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer
of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So supposedly an Australian dentist wrote the following to let
everyone know what an American is, so they would know when they found

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish,
Polish, Russian or Greek.  An American may also be Canadian, Mexican,
African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or
Arab, or Pakistani, or 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, or Buddhist, 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.  He answers only to him- or her- self, not to the
government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and
for "god".

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 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.

Americans welcome the best, the best products, the best books, the
best music, the best food, the best athletes.  But they also welcome
the least.

The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, 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 the morning of
September 11, earning a better life for their families.  I've been
told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 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.  But, 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.

Pass this around the World.

Tom Schneider's Home Page
origin: 2002 Dec 5
updated: 2011 Aug 11