Hyphenated American is phrase popularized by former president Theodore Roosevelt during World War I --at a time the U.S. was neutral and had not entered the war--to criticize Americans who had some loyalties to the countries of their ancestors. He used it only to attack German-Americans and Irish Americans (never to attack British Americans who were demonstrating strong loyalties to Britain, which was at war with germany and was suppressing Ireland. The issue proved highly political and contoversial, and hurt the Republican presidential candidate in 1916, Charles Evans Hughes. Hughes lost a very close election to Woodrow Wilson when German-American Republicans were suspicious that Hughes was supported by Roosevelt.
In a 1915 speech to the Catholic group the Knights of Columbus. Roosevelt said:
- There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism... a hyphenated American is not an American at all. This is just as true of the man who puts "native" before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else.
- The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.
- For an American citizen to vote as a German-American, an Irish-American, or an English-American, is to be a traitor to American institutions; and those hyphenated Americans who terrorize American politicians by threats of the foreign vote are engaged in treason to the American Republic.
It is commonly considered "politically correct" in the United States to refer to blacks as "African-American", those with Asian ancestry as "Asian-American", etc. This is commonly associated with liberalism in America. However, in Canada, which is far more liberal than the United States, there is no such concept as a "hyphenated Canadian". Race is often referred to as "Black" or "Asian" (but never "African-Canadian" or "Asian-Canadian") for statistical purposes. However, Canadians do not regularly use racial differentiation in society. Everyone is simply "Canadian". Indigenous Canadians, commonly known as the "First Nations" are an exception to this, however the term "Native Canadians", analogous to the politically correct "Native Americans" is never used, in spite of Canada's more liberal nature.
Notes and references
It is interesting to note that in the Bible, nation was not classified by skin complexion nor physical features, but rather by tonge/land/family tribe. For example, the nation of Israel was composed of 12 tribes, but the people were still Israelites and spoke Hebrew.
If the United States of America was to follow this concept, while withholding the evident truth that there is actually only one race, then everyone who is born, is a citizen, pledges allegience (ONE nation under God..indivisible) would simply be an American.
Hyphenated terms such as 'African-American' or 'European-American' or 'Asian-American' are all viewed as silly concepts by some Americans, particularly Christians who adhere to Biblical teachings. Furthermore, pressing this concept would make it rather easier to adhere to Acts 17:26-28...a key scripture.