Preferable American Identities
There is a hidden value of hegemony that is present within the fabric of American culture. America prides itself internationally by selling the idea that the country is a free land that is welcoming and accepts all walks of life. There is a paradoxical nature of this promise and the reality of living in the country that goes hand in hand. The United States since its conception is country built on and around the idea of complete cultural domination. Many of the first European colonists were escaping the tyrannical ruling of the English king who was forcing his subjects to adhere to rules of his religion when did not agree. The english have a long history of conquering land and ruling with firm ethnocentric beliefs. English influence coming into the united states is where the beginning of racial and religious superiority come to fruition. Many mainstream or normal ideas present in contemporary American culture also come from this long history of hegemony and continue to oppress and privilege certain individuals over others. European settlers felt they were more human than their Native American counterparts and saw them as animal like even after years of claiming most of the North American continent. Europeans felt because of their identity they possessed the divine right to own as much as they could with no regard for the people already living on the land. This kind of prioritizing of people is in direct relation to many of the social issues this country still faces today. The LGBT community has felt the effects of these feelings in a harsh way.
There is very strong racial bias when describing who is considered American in the United States. Historically citizenship was initially saved for mostly white people in America other groups were either brought against their will or were treated like second class citizens. The rush to flee persecution and establish a new type of world where these Europeans could be safe with their puritan values caused the new settlements to be filled with more tyrannical rules establishing values than actually alienated people and caused them to have the same feelings the puritans themselves had.The characteristics of deserving of rights at this time were given to primarily white males who owned land followed heteronormative behavior.
Christian superiority is present in almost all aspects in american life. American values claim to be secular but institute values that are Christian. Christian values in a broad sense like most religions establish a code and rules for someone who practices this faith to live by. The United States socially rewards behavior that comply with these demands. The United States also as country has excused vicious religiously motivated attacks as not representative of the christian religion while perpetuating stigmas given to other religious. This is significant when speaking about attacks by muslims which is always explained in a way that islam is violent in nature. this is an example of hegemony because christian values are considered american whereas American muslim’s value are treated like values that compete with America’s. When new identities are present in the country it is socially acceptable in this country to alienate these people and make them feel less welcomed. Gender norms in this country exist to primarily help heterosexual males. This identity is prioritized because only heteronormative males were seen to be people in most of christian literature. Those who may not agree with these rules or do not identify with this particular religion are not excused and Christian values are still implemented on them.
The founding fathers were aware of this type of tyranny and thought of ways to restrict the power of the church through legislative practices. An idea thats visible in the “separation of church and state”, Brant explains its usage through James Madison who says “the basic element was freedom of conscience. But in the protection of that freedom, the fundamental requirement was a total separation between government and religion” This mindset is remarkable for its time and showed a way in which the country could strive to be a nation free of constraints aspiring to be the most free.
Discrimination for those who do not fit the ideal american man has gone down but the favoring of this archetype is still present in mainstream media and is perpetuated by the same ideologies that fight to keep more balanced representation of identity. The first amendment of the United States is designed to maintain neutrality of religion, while allowing individuals to practice their own personal faiths. Theses ideas however are ambiguous and the belief is up for debate and has remained a highly controversial principle since it was dictated by Jefferson. This idea has been abused by the certain conservative individuals to discriminate against homosexuals because their lifestyle does not correspond to the christian way of life and for that reason citizen of this country feel they have the right to discriminate against them. This is how even through efforts to stabilize the unbalanced favoring of certain types of identity hegemonic mindsets continue to plague the liberty of American culture.
Barner-Barry, C.. Contemporary Paganism : Minority Religions in a Majoritarian America. New York, US: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 6 March 2017.
Blumenfeld, Warren J. “Christian Privilege and the Promotion of “Secular” and Not-So “Secular” Mainline Christianity in Public Schooling and in the Larger Society.”Www.tandfonline.com. Taylor & Francis Online, 23 Nov. 2006. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
Brant, Irving. “Madison: On the Separation of Church and State.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1, 1951, pp. 4–24., http://www.jstor.org/stable/1920731.