Sunday, July 4, 2010

Are you Un-American?

I'm intrigued by the word "Un-American". It has a negative connotation and drums up a person who is un-patriotic. Anyway, I went looking around at what exactly this word means, what's the history behind the word, who could be considered Un-American, and what does this word today mean to people.

Un-American, according to wikipedia, means "a pejorative term of US political discourse which is applied to people or institutions in the United States seen as deviating from US norms." also defines it as "not American; not characteristic of or proper to the U.S.; foreign or opposed to the characters, values, standards, goals, etc., of the U.S."

Historically, the word Un-American conjures up the House Un-American Activities Committee. Initially, the HUAC investigated the KKK and Nazi's during WWII but was most famous for its activities during the 1950s. The committee questioned all different citizens for communist activities. Later, President Truman called the committee Un-American.

During JF Kennedy's run for president, people were apprehensive about electing a Catholic to the presidency. It was commonly felt that his loyalties were with the Vatican. This thought is not uncommon. Today many people are suspicious of Muslims and feel that their loyalties are with other Muslim nations.

Similarly, Japanese-Americans and Japanese-born Americans were interned during WWII because there was growing public fear that these citizens were more loyal to Japan.

Jehovah's witnesses and Mennonites, who refuse to engage in patriotic acts such as voting or participating in the Pledge of Allegiance, are also considered Un-American.

The term is also used between conservative and liberal political ideologies to denote a person who is going against what that person feels is "American values."

I also found this most interesting piece of news on Wikipedia: On July 23, 2007, the City Council of Annapolis, Maryland convened to consider a bill banning plastic shopping bags from the city in order to protect the marine life of Chesapeake Bay. Safeway characterized the Annapolis bill and presumably the motives of its proponents, as "un-American": "At the hearing, a lobbyist for Safeway called the bill 'un-American,' saying it would take choices away from consumers."

Not stopping there, I decided to ask the internet populace at large their thoughts on what was Un-American. The medium I chose was Yahoo! Answers. I posed two similarly worded questions in two different forums: culture and politics. Here are some of the people's responses. I have tried to include the ones that make sense and didn't include cursing. (You ask a question; you get a lot of strange responses)

not supporting the troops
not doing the pledge
not eating hamburgers and hot dogs

Doing anything to hurt, or impose a bad look upon, your country. Examples: Speaking against the constitution, declaring hate for America, doing anything that injures America as a whole, such as selling weapons to a foreign country.

Not supporting the troops, not standing for the pledge, going against conventional or orthodox beliefs

I think it's meaningless -- both patriotism and the lack thereof. The only thing under the sun that would be considered "un-American" is being the one to designate what is or isn't un-American.

being a Communist is un-american

depends on which party is in control of the government.
The left was unpatriotic for not supporting the War in Iraq or the Patriot Act. The right is now because we don't like statism.

not having love and devotion to one's country.

Well what does America stand for?
Then take the opposite.
But what is the American standard. There really is one, but for 1 person to say something about it, there will be 10 disagree and then 20 more to help the first. All I can say is that Un-American people are bad news. They arent limited to D or R they are on both sides. I personally use the term to describe people who are anti-military or communist (socialism is pushing it but for things like alcohol i kind of am okay with it, but dont support it).

I think this "Un-American" thing is 100% Grade A BS. There's no way an American is supposed to be, otherwise it undermines the core value of being one: To be free. The only real Un-Americans are the ones whose citizenship is not of the US.
Now, unpatriotic is a term a lot of pompous *expletive deleted* use to defend their ego and make themselves out to be the patriotic one. There's a name for that in my opinion: Narcissist.

Taking more than you are willing to give, asking more from others than you are willing to offer, demanding that everyone bear more of the burden of your poor life choices than you are willing to. Living under the umbrella of protection that the Constitution provides, then abusing your rights in a selfish manner at the expense of others.

muslim loving atheist liberal with a communist agenda about sums it up.

an real american is a person who hate Communism 110%

I have to laugh at some of the responses because speaking out against the constitution and against the government is about as American as it gets. That's one of our protected rights. However, if you don't buy into the idea that America is the greatest country on earth, or if you think that American needs to evolve and change, then you're usually branded as unpatriotic.

By my standards, anyone who opposes the unites states imperialistic and prowar tendencies is UnAmerican. In that case, I'm proud to be UnAmerican.

So it seems for many, that the term runs the gamut from one's religious beliefs, one's country of origin, and one's political ideology.

By many people's definition, I am also Un-American. I'm Catholic and anti-military.

So are you Un-American? What do you think it means? Please list a comment.


  1. Sigh that's a hard one... I hesitate to say something is un-American for one of the reasons mentioned above. One of the things that most of us love about this country is that we have the right to say/do/believe anything we want here. But that means that whatever it is we believe, even if its against the norm, should not be labeled un-American.

    I've been called that too btw. I'm not anti-military, but some family thinks or says I am because I didnt jump on the whole Iraq war bandwagon. They don't get the concept of a just war and don't understand that it is possible to understand that someone is doing their job, be proud of them for what they do/stand for even if you disagree with what they are being sent to do in a particular instance. Being friends w/ several Muslims didn't help me either lol. Or being Catholic.

    Oh and the hamburger/hotdog thing made me laugh... That's great. Almost as bad as my husband saying someone was a "good American" because of her reason to circ (too disturbing to put on here).

  2. Yeah, a lot of the comments made me raise an eyebrow. Especially the one with Muslims in it. I didn't realize that Muslims were UnAmerican especially since some Muslims are African-American.

    My personal take is a person is Un-American if they aren't. Meaning they're French or German, but then you would say that they aren't American. So using the word seems ludicrous to me.


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