Thursday, March 30, 2017

"E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" - Notes and References

[JB - updated 6/1/2017]

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Informal outline of presentation/discussion (details below):

“E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United.”

This presentation is intended for distinguished European/Eurasian young leaders in various professional fields participating in the “Open World” program, many of whom, although knowledgeable about the Unted States and admirable English speakers, have not yet visited the U.S. 

Note -- The presentation (not read from a script) changes depending on the nature of audiences and recent events; the below is a work in progress, not a “finished product.”

I. Introduction

The presentation -- given from a personal, rather than "official" perspective -- concerns the contentious details of American life rather than abstract USA-theory. It aspires to be humorous. Not social “science.” It's meant to inspire questions, not provide definitive (if any) answers. Not a USG policy statement or political party platform.

The presentation begins with slides showing the variety and diversity of the United States, a country of "only" 240 years. 

How does this vast, diverse nation keep itself together? That’s the main question for our discussion.

--E Pluribus Unum, inscribed on the Great Seal of the U.S. (depicted on the U.S. dollar bill), Latin for "Out of Many, One," is a motto adopted by an Act of the Continental Congress in 1782. Never codified by law, E Pluribus Unum is considered the unofficial motto of the United States.

--E Pluribus Unum is stated in the declarative, but it could very well have been asked in the interrogative.

--For example, even before European colonists reinvented themselves as a new country in a new world (a new world for Europeans) in 1776, Benjamin Franklin warned his fellow colonials (1754): "Join or die."

--During the Civil War (1861-1865) the U.S. did split into North and South. a war that caused more American casualties than another other USA military conflict, including WWI and WWII.

Below further information (see links) on items mentioned, off and on, in the presentation, “E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United.” Items listed in the order they are presented in the discussion. Note: These are not in-depth “academic” references; just additional information for those interested.

Ia) Introduction: U.S. political/geographical/historical overview

The recent American presidential election,_2016
Current “polarization” in the U.S.
Gertrude Stein on what is the question
Shades of Red and Blue: Uniting Our Divided Nation (March 30, 2017)
The Four American Narratives (May 26, 2017)
America’s Most Segregated Cities (May 21, 2017)
A Nation Stuck in Adolescence (May 15, 2017)
Millennials differ from other generations in almost every regard. Here's the data (April 20, 2017)
Reid Wilson, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (2011)
Native Americans
Cherokee Nation Sues Walmart, others over illegal opioids
(April 21, 2017)
Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas
American Revolution Ideas
George III
Thomas Jefferson “All men are created equal” on Native Americans
"All men are created equal" vs. "the merciless Indian Savages"
Thomas Jefferson and Slavery
American Revolution Ideas
Abraham Lincoln
Civil Rights Movement (1950s-60s)
Civil Rights Act of 1964
1968 Washington, D.C. riots,_D.C._riots
Arthur Schlesinger, The Disuniting of America (1991)
Samuel Huntington, Who are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity (2004)
Weber on Protestantism and Capitalism
Nationalists and Cosmopolitans: How Samuel Huntington Predicted Our Political Moment 
Princeton — Yes, Princeton — Takes On the Class Divide (May 30, 2017)
Rural America is the New 'Inner City' (May 28, 1917)
Cullen Murphy, Are We Rome: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America (2008)
Historian warns of sudden collapse of American ‘empire’ (2010)
Patrick Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? (2011)
Video: Imagining the Fall of the American Empire
Harry Turtledove The Disunited States of America (2006)
A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction (June, 2017)
The Man in the High Castle (TV series, 2015 - present)
Planet of the Apes (Film, first version 1968)
As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of the U.S. (2008)

II) Elements contributing to American Unity:
From least important to (arguably) most important

10. Race
U.S. Census looking at big changes in how it asks about race and ethnicity (2014)
Is being Hispanic a matter of race, ethnicity or both?;postID=9179767785743637135;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=9;src=postname
Race and ethnicity in the United States 
Where are your ancestors from?
Benjamin Franklin on German-Americans,_D.C.
Interracial marriage: Who is ‘marrying out’?
Chirlane McCray
The Movie ‘Get Out’ Is a Strong Antidote to the Myth of ‘Postracial’ America (2017)
"The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’" (May 18, 2017)
Comic W. Kamau Bell: We are living in the ‘most racial America' (2016)
Post-racial America


9. Culture
Why Americans Smile So Much
Definition of American Pop Culture
McDonald's is ditching artificial flavors, preservatives in vanilla ice cream treats (May 19, 2017)
Sports in the United States
Eating at your desk? Your cubemates may be seething (April 5, 2017)


8. History/Geography

The Civil War (TV series, 1990)
Finding the ways we honor U.S. Presidents in Richmond
The debate over Confederate monuments shows how far the U.S. has to go (May 30, 2017)
Alabama governor signs law protecting Confederate monuments from removal (May 28, 2017)
How Did Robert E. Lee Become an American Icon? (July/August 2011)
Mitch Landrieu’s Speech on the Removal of Confederate Monuments in New Orleans
Good Riddance to Confederate Monuments (April 29, 2017)
List of U.S. state historical societies and museums
[N]early one in five high school seniors think that Germany was an ally of the United States in World War II.” (2014)
Americans’ geography skills remain poor (May 15, 2017)
Americans Were Asked To Place European Countries On A Map. Here’s What They Wrote: [no date; “3 years ago”]
Don’t Know Much About History” (video of the popular song, [What A] Wonderful World)


7.  Language
The First And True Language Of America 
What is the future of Spanish in the United States?  (2013)


6. Religion
Pledge of Allegiance (originally composed in 1887)
David Bowie full (repetitious) lyrics:
America’s Changing Religious Landscape (2015)
The most and least racially diverse U.S. religious groups


5. Central Government!


4. Local Associations; see also.
Americans as "joiners": from Daniel J. Boorstin: The Americans: the national experience (1973)


3. The Economy
Income Inequality
It’s a tale of two countries (April 2, 2017)
The owner-­renter divide (May 10, 2017)
Is the freedom of the gig economy worth it? (May 7, 2017)
Top 10 highest-paid CEOs (May 24, 2017)
The Business-School Boondoggle (April 25, 1917)
Democracy, Greed, and the Perils of Equality (2016)


2. Ideas/Ideals

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (cited again)
The Ideals of America (1902; speech by Woodrow Wilson)
Thomas Jefferson and slavery
Is the US the most hypocritical country in the world?
"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue"
American exceptionalism


1. Change – not “standing still” – as a unifying factor
Yuval Levin, The Fractured Republic (2016)
Young Americans aren’t moving like they used to (April 18, 2017)
Americans’ attitude toward change and revolution (Tocqueville)
The American Dream, Quantified at Last (2016)
Is the American Dream Killing Us? (2017)
Requiem for the American Dream (2015)
What's Become of the American Dream? (2017)
In America, you can reinvent yourself at any turn." (writer Adam Johnson)
Britney Spears puts on special performance for TODAY, talks about her 'reinvention' (2016)
"If America stands for anything, it is reinvention, renewal and second chances." (2017)


Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune . ...

Walt Whitman image from

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