Are you an American? Do you live in America?
Seems simple enough to most of us. But a Michigan judge named Charles Warren, who also happens to be a former member of the state board of education, wrote a piece in a Detroit paper in which he says the Michigan Department of Education has forbidden teachers from using the words America and American when they mean us, people who live in the United States of America.
Why? Because there are Mexicans who are Americans — Central America — and the same with Guatemalans and Salvadorans, and because South Americans could also think you mean them when you say American. And the Canadians are probably confused if you call yourself an American and they look at the map and see they, too, are in North America.
Warren, the judge and former state school board member, says this is political correctness gone wild, and the people of Michigan should know that teachers are not allowed to say Americans when they mean people who live in the USA.
The Michigan Department of Education hopped to it and released the following statement:
"The Michigan Department of Education supports the continued use of Americas, United States of America and the philosophy behind America in our schools. We have no policy pending to change that nor would we support any."
Well, what to make of this dispute?
The Detroit news says it may not be official policy, but the paper says it's still true because an important consultant on the social studies programs in Michigan schools named Karen Todorov has made it clear in e-mails and other discussions with teachers and staff that it is "ethnocentric" to refer to us as Americans, and ethnocentricity is a no-no.
In addition, the Detroit news quotes an education department spokesman defending the practice by saying, "It was part of a national trend of being more historically accurate."
Whatever is going on in Michigan schools, I think they have to straighten it out. Teachers should not be pressured or ordered or leaned on to be "ethno-open" to the point that we are not called Americans and this place we live in is not called America.
There is an American way of life, there is American history, the American colonies, the American Revolution, the voice of America, and America has a zillion detractors and attackers from all over the planet.
Sorry, Michigan schools, America is here to stay. And you should be proud to be ethnocentric when it comes to America.
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