- - Thursday, April 10, 2014

There is a new movement gaining momentum because of frustration over an intrusive, overbearing federal government and its obsession with multiculturalism. It is called secession, and there are movements to secede from the United States in Texas, Colorado, Maryland, Northern California, Washington state and Oregon.

This trend should prompt us to think about what it means to be an American and what it is in our culture that binds us together.

It has become increasingly difficult to identify oneself simply as “American.” The designation has all but disappeared from U.S. documents. When responding to questionnaires, Americans are compelled to select an identity from a plethora of hyphenated subcategories. We debate if we even speak the same language and can talk to each other in English.

Using a common language and defining oneself simply as American is not incompatible with a multicultural society that respects and cherishes diversity. Communicating in English is not a repudiation of one’s roots, but a means of sharing one’s own background and understanding all others.

It seems that some beliefs are rapidly polarizing the country. Are we a nation that believes in common law based on the Ten Commandments — or does whatever the majority happen to vote upon become the new law regardless of our rights? Do we think we can create better lives for ourselves by being self-reliant and working hard — or are we simply takers?

After World War II, the traits of benevolence, tolerance, compassion, self-reliance and integrity became universally recognized as the essential ingredients of the American character.

Few institutions teach American history, the Constitution or the basics of our representative government. Even fewer celebrate the contributions and achievements of those who came to America in search of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and created the highest standard of living on the planet.

If the designation “American” no longer has any meaning and is not worthy of contemplation and examination, who are we?

ED KONECNIK

Flushing, N.Y.