History tends to repeat itself, and it would be smart to heed the wisdom of those who have gone before us. Eerily enough, many have predicted the racial divisiveness our country is facing today.
In a recording dating back to 1973, John Wayne talks about how being “hyphenated” is dividing people up into groups. When everyone becomes an African-American, Asian-American, Latino-American, or any hyphenated identity, we are essentially splintering off and striving away from the American identity. This country is a melting pot, and we are meant to be united under one identity – American.
In a message that is even more relevant today than it was back then, John Wayne recites a speech outlining the perils of identity politics and how it only serves to subdivide Americans and create divisions to be exploited.
“It seems to me whenever a man calls himself an Afro-American, a Mexican-American, and Italian-American, and Irish-American, a Jewish-American, what he’s saying is “I’m a divided American,” says Wayne.
“We all came from other places, from different creed, different races, to form a nation. To become as one, yet look at the harm a line has done. A simple little line, yet as divisive as a line can get,” he continues.
Although Wayne proceeds to allude to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, his comments are just as applicable today, albeit toward different groups. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and even a significant portion of the NFL, are focused on identity politics and creating further subdivision within this nation.
In fact, as wise as his message is, it can be traced even further back to 1916 in an afternoon speech from Theodore Roosevelt, where he speaks on much the same topic.
“I stand against every form of hyphenated Americanism,” said the President. “I speak of and condemn its use whenever it represents an effort to form political parties along racial lines or to bring pressure to bear on parties and policies, not for American purposes, but in the interest of some group of voters of a certain national origin, or of the country from which they or their fathers came.”
“Americanism is not a matter of creed, birthplace or national descent, but of the soul and of the spirit,” he continues, adding that “let us be Americans, nothing else.”
Unfortunately, the former president would be quite disappointed to see where the world of modern politics has gone. From the Black and Hispanic Congressional Caucus’s to groups such as Black Lives Matter, the use of “hyphenation” to break down a sense of national pride and unity has never been more prevalent.
Even worse for this country, this deterioration of a common American identity is the reason we have so many members of the NFL kneeling during the anthem, disrespecting the country that gave them their success. When people become “hyphenated,” as Wayne and Roosevelt would say, they have no qualms about trampling upon the flag, its anthem, and its history.
Wayne says it best as he ends his message: “United we stand, divided we fall. We’re Americans, and that says it all.