How Do You Say That In Utopian?

Though I don’t often frequent the Huffington Post, I came across a column by (inexplicably) Sex and the City actor Evan Handler today, called “My Wife is an Immigrant“. In it he states, relating how his wife often has to clarify to strangers that when she says she’s “Italian” she really means “born in Italy”:

“Ohhhhhhhhhh…,” they say. “So you’re really Italian.”

As if there were another kind.

But there is. The American kind. For the United States is the only place a conversation like that can happen. At least it’s the only place I’ve seen it happen.

Before it develops into a Lee Greenwood song (while referencing Randy Newman no less) about how wonderfully unique it is that Americans can identify with the countries from which their parents emigrated, he presents the “who’d a thunk?” observation:

Yes, the United States[…]; the nation whose politicians still use an eighteenth century phrase like “American Exceptionalism” as if it were an edict from their private God, is the only place on Earth where there are no Americans.

When I go home to my Toronto apartment this evening, to a predominantly Portuguese/Vietnamese neighbourhood, to my half-Swedish/half-Irish wife, I’ll try to forget the mind-numbing irony of Mr. Handler’s prose, and pray that not all people in the United States inhabit such an insulated mentality, where you can paint a Utopian picture of life while wink-nudging about a history of “Exceptionalism”.

A note to Mr. Handler: there are other countries in the world to which people immigrated, and in fact, one of them is just above you. It may not be the “American kind”, but we too still relate to the countries from which our parents came, sometimes as neurotically, but nowhere near as exceptionally.


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