The Suburbanite
  • Charita Goshay: What do we mean by ‘American’?

  • If Sen. Marco Rubio does not become the nation’s first Latino president, as some hope, there’s another potential candidate growing up in San Antonio.

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  • If Sen. Marco Rubio does not become the nation’s first Latino president, as some hope, there’s another potential candidate growing up in San Antonio.
    Last week, Sebastien De La Cruz faced down a barrage of online racial slurs and attacks with a maturity and grace that befit a president.
    It seems that some people were outraged that an “illegal alien” such as De La Cruz, 11, was chosen to perform the national anthem at an NBA Finals game in San Antonio. They jumped to this jaw-droppingly lazy conclusion because De La Cruz performed in a traditional mariachi suit, a nod to his Mexican heritage and to his love of the music.
    Any little kid brave enough to tackle the career-eating “Star-Spangled Banner” in front of 19,000 people should be allowed to wear whatever his parents permit, especially if he looks more stylish than 99 percent of the people who are complaining about it.
    De La Cruz was a last-minute substitute for former Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker, who was himself recently stung by a racist tweet for his foray into country music.
    Just like Rubio, De La Cruz is the American-born son of an immigrant who not only chose to live here but also served in the Navy to underscore that choice.
    It goes without saying that some of the same people who would attack a child over his heritage probably celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and maybe even Cinco de Mayo.
    They likely claim to follow Jesus — a Palestinian Jew — and eat at the Chinese buffet after church services.
    They’ll dance the Polish polka at wedding receptions and scarf down beer and pretzels at Oktoberfest. They’ll eat baklava and drink ouzo at the Greek festivals, all while applauding Greek-school students dressed as Klephts and Queen Amalia as they perform the Ballos and the Tsamiko.
    They root, root, root for their home team and its Caribbean-born players, even as they munch on pizza, sushi and pierogi.
    Those offended by De La Cruz’s performance would have a four-legged fit if their Columbus Day holiday were rescinded. So what if it commemorates a European who never even set foot on American soil?
    Obviously the argument De La Cruz’s bullies are trying to make is that immigrants should assimilate — which isn’t even applicable in this case. And where is it written that being American means you must keep at arm’s length the very culture that helped to make you who you are?
    We become American not simply by birthright but also by embracing this country’s ideals and the gifts that millions of immigrants have brought with them, which have enriched us.
    Page 2 of 2 - Anyway, the mariachi suit is a red herring. There are people who would have a problem with Sebastien De La Cruz if he were dressed like Uncle Sam, waving a flag and carrying the New Testament.
    When you see this 11-year-old’s optimism and can-do confidence, it’s quite obvious: He’s an all-American boy.

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