There is no such thing.

People don’t come here from other places and become American.  They come here and make America a little bit like the places they came from.


I believe I am part Irish because I love George M. Cohan and John Ford and James Cagney.  I believe I am part African-American because I love Louis Armstrong and Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix.  I believe I am part Jewish because I love George Gershwin and Arthur Freed and Bob Dylan.


I don’t mean this figuratively — I mean it literally.  Irish and African-American and Jewish blood runs in my veins because tributaries of those cultures have coursed through my heart, defined who I am.

“Foreign” influences aren’t assimilated into America — America is assimilated into foreign influences.  American exceptionalism is a dubious concept on most levels but not on this one.  There has never been a country like America in the history of the world.


You want to know what American culture really is — ask me tomorrow.  We’re still working on it.