Thursday, March 30, 2017

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


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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 United 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
Reid Wilson, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (2011)
American Revolution Ideas
George III
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
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,_D.C.
Interracial marriage: Who is ‘marrying out’?
Chirlane McCray
Comic W. Kamau Bell: We are living in the ‘most racial America' (2016)
Post-racial America


9. Culture
Eating at your desk? Your cubemates may be seething (2017)


8. History
The Civil War (TV series, 1990)
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:


5. Central Government!


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


3. The Economy


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)
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)
Walt Whitman,"Song of the Open Road." (1856)

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