“I think the same fellow who started that self-made man gag started that other asinine expression, ‘100 per cent American.'” – Will Rogers, 28 October 1923
Will was just not one to parse his words. He spoke what he thought. I like to think I am like him in that regard. I also like to think that I also, like him, do it in a respectable manner without rants and personal attacks. At least I try to do that.
Will was turned off by certain phrases and these two above were on that list. To him there is no such thing as self-made. We all owe a debt to the society that sustains us. We all depend on others for what we have in life. Our mentors, our heroes, and yes even our advisories shape who we are. No one is ever self-made.
Likewise there is no such thing as 100% American. We are a very diverse country with many different opinions and beliefs. What makes us great is our willingness to accept others views even when they differ from our own. At least that is what has made us great in the past. In today’s USA I’m not sure that idea has legs anymore.
So when I hear all those out there saying that they are somehow 100% American I, like Will, immediately am cautious of what words may follow.