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时间:2006-09-22 16:00来源:互联网 提供网友:clian1   字体: [ ]

     America has drawn1 to its shores individuals from all over the world. This has produced a blending of different ways of life that many Americans find disturbing. Ishmael Reed, however, sees this mixing of customs as neither new nor a threat. On the contrary, it is typically American.



What's American about America?

Ishmael Reed

1    An item from the New York Times, June 23, 1983: "At the annual Lower East Side Jewish Festival yesterday, a Chinese woman ate a pizza slice in front of Ty Thuan Duc's Vietnamese grocery store. Beside her a Spanish-speaking family patronized a cart with two signs: 'Italian Ices' and 'Kosher by Rabbi Alper'."



2    On the day before Memorial Day, 1983, a poet called me to describe a city he had just visited. He said that one section included mosques2, built by the Islamic people who dwelled there. Attending his reading, he said, were large numbers of Hispanic people, 40,000 of whom lived in the same city. He was not talking about a legendary3 city located in some mysterious region of the world. The city he'd visited was Detroit.

3    A few months before, as I was visiting Texas, I heard the taped voice used to guide passengers to their connections at the Dallas Airport announcing items in both Spanish and English. This trend is likely to continue; after all, for some southwestern states like Texas, where the largest minority is now Mexican-American, Spanish was the first written language and the Spanish style lives on in the western way of life.

4    Shortly after my Texas trip, I sat in a campus auditorium4 at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee as a Yale professor -- whose original work on the influence of African cultures upon those of the Americas has led to his ostracism5 from some intellectual circles -- walked up and down the aisle6 like an old-time Southern evangelist, dancing and drumming the top of the lectern, illustrating7 his points before some Afro-American intellectuals and artists who cheered and applauded his performance. The professor was "white." After his lecture, he conversed8 with a group of Milwaukeeans -- all of whom spoke9 Yoruban, though only the professor had ever traveled to Africa.

5    One of the artists there told me that his paintings, which included African and Afro-American mythological10 symbols and imagery, were hanging in the local McDonald's restaurant. The next day I went to McDonald's and snapped pictures of smiling youngsters eating hamburgers below paintings that could grace the walls of any of the country's leading museums. The manager of the local McDonald's said, "I don't know what you boys are doing, but I like it," as he commissioned the local painters to exhibit in his restaurant.       当地一位艺术家告诉我,他的一些含有非洲和美国黑人神话中的象征和意象的画作悬挂在当地一家麦当劳快餐店里。第二天我去了那家麦当劳快餐店,拍下了一些坐在画下吃汉堡包的面带微笑的青年人,那些画挂在美国任何一家著名博物馆里都会增光添彩。麦当劳的经理对我说:“我不知道你们这是在干什么,不过我觉得挺好,”是他允许当地画家把他们的作品拿到店里展示。

6    Such blurring11 of cultural styles occurs in everyday life in the United States to a greater extent than anyone can imagine. Yet members of the nation's present educational and cultural elite12 still cling to the notion that the United States belongs to some vaguely13 defined entity14 they refer to as "Western civilization," by which they mean, presumably, a civilization created by people of Europe, as if Europe can even be viewed as completely uninfluenced by the rest of the world. Is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which includes Turkish marches, a part of Western civilization? Or the late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century French paintings, whose creators were influenced by Japanese art? And what of the cubists, through whom the influence of African art changed modern painting? Or the surrealists, who were so impressed with the art of the Pacific Northwest Indians that, in their map of North America, Alaska dwarfs15 the lower forty-eight states in size?

7    Are the Russians, who are often criticized for their adoption16 of "Western" ways by Tsarist dissidents in exile, members of Western civilization? And what of the millions of Europeans who have black African and Asian ancestry17, black Africans having occupied several European countries for hundreds of years? Are these "Europeans" a part of Western civilization? Or the Hungarians, who originated across the Urals in a place called Greater Hungary? Or the Irish, who came from the Iberian Peninsula?

8    Even the notion that North America is part of Western civilization because our "system of government" is derived18 from Europe is being challenged by Native American historians who say that the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin especially, were actually influenced by the system of government that had been adopted by the Iroquois hundreds of years prior to the arrival of Europeans.

9    Western civilization, then, becomes another confusing category -- like Third World, or Judeo-Christian culture -- as humanity attempts to impose its small-screen view of political and cultural reality upon a complex world. Our most publicized novelist recently said that Western civilization was the greatest achievement of mankind -- an attitude that flourishes on the street level as scribbles19 in public restrooms: "White Power," "Niggers and Spics Suck," or "Hitler was a prophet." Where did such an attitude, which has caused so much misery20 and depression in our national life, which has spoiled even our noblest achievements, begin? An attitude that caused the confinement21 of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, the persecution22 of Chicanos and Chinese Americans, the near-extermination of the Indians, and the murder and lynchings of thousands of Afro-Americans.

10    The Puritans of New England are idealized in our schoolbooks as the first Americans, "a hardy23 band" whose discipline razed24 the forest and brought order to the New World (a term that annoys Native American historians). Industrious25, responsible, it was their "Yankee ingenuity26" and practicality that created the work ethic27.
      在我们的教材中,新英格兰的清教徒被理想化地描述为最早的美国人, “吃苦耐劳的一批人”,他们严格的行为准则把森林夷为平地,给新世界(一个令美国本土历史学家们耿耿于怀的名称)带来了秩序。他们勤勉尽责,正是他们那“扬基式的机灵”和务实精神创立了职业道德。

11    The Puritans, however, had a mean streak28. They hated the theater and banned Christmas. They punished people in a cruel and inhuman29 manner. They killed children who disobeyed their parents. They exterminated30 the Indians, who had taught them how to survive in a world unknown to them. The Puritan legacy31 of hard work and meticulous32 accounting33 led to the establishment of a great industrial society, but there was the other side -- the strange and fearful attitudes of that society toward those different from the elect.

12    The cultural attitudes of that early elect continue to be voiced in everyday life in the United States; the president of a distinguished34 university, writing a letter to the Times, belittling35 the study of African civilizations; the television network that promoted its show on the Vatican art with the boast that this art represented "the finest achievements of the human spirit."

13    When I heard a schoolteacher warn the other night about the invasion of the American educational system by foreign curricula, I wanted to yell at the television set, "Lady, they're already here." It has already begun because the world is here. The world has been arriving at these shores for at least 10,000 years from Europe, Africa, and Asia. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, large numbers of Europeans arrived, adding their cultures to those of the European, African, and Asian settlers who were already here, and recently millions have been entering the country from South America and the Caribbean.

14    North America deserves a more exciting destiny than as a storeroom of "Western civilization." We can become a place where the cultures of the world crisscross. This is possible because the United States and Canada are unique in the world: The world is here.



1 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
2 mosques 5bbcef619041769ff61b4ff91237b6a0     
清真寺; 伊斯兰教寺院,清真寺; 清真寺,伊斯兰教寺院( mosque的名词复数 )
  • Why make us believe that this tunnel runs underneath the mosques? 为什么要让我们相信这条隧洞是在清真寺下?
  • The city's three biggest mosques, long fallen into disrepair, have been renovated. 城里最大的三座清真寺,过去年久失修,现在已经修复。
3 legendary u1Vxg     
  • Legendary stories are passed down from parents to children.传奇故事是由父母传给孩子们的。
  • Odysseus was a legendary Greek hero.奥狄修斯是传说中的希腊英雄。
4 auditorium HO6yK     
  • The teacher gathered all the pupils in the auditorium.老师把全体同学集合在礼堂内。
  • The stage is thrust forward into the auditorium.舞台向前突出,伸入观众席。
5 ostracism kvTyG     
  • Until I emigrated to America,my family and I endured progressive ostracism and discrimination.我的家庭和我自己忍受着变本加厉的排斥和歧视直到我移居美国。
  • For the first time in her life the import and horror of social ostracism flashed upon her.她生平第一次突然想到遭受社交界排斥的意义与可怕。
6 aisle qxPz3     
  • The aisle was crammed with people.过道上挤满了人。
  • The girl ushered me along the aisle to my seat.引座小姐带领我沿着通道到我的座位上去。
7 illustrating a99f5be8a18291b13baa6ba429f04101     
给…加插图( illustrate的现在分词 ); 说明; 表明; (用示例、图画等)说明
  • He upstaged the other speakers by illustrating his talk with slides. 他演讲中配上幻灯片,比其他演讲人更吸引听众。
  • Material illustrating detailed structure of graptolites has been etched from limestone by means of hydrofluoric acid. 表明笔石详细构造的物质是利用氢氟酸从石灰岩中侵蚀出来。
8 conversed a9ac3add7106d6e0696aafb65fcced0d     
v.交谈,谈话( converse的过去式 )
  • I conversed with her on a certain problem. 我与她讨论某一问题。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • She was cheerful and polite, and conversed with me pleasantly. 她十分高兴,也很客气,而且愉快地同我交谈。 来自辞典例句
9 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
10 mythological BFaxL     
  • He is remembered for his historical and mythological works. 他以其带有历史感和神话色彩的作品而著称。
  • But even so, the cumulative process had for most Americans a deep, almost mythological significance. 不过即使如此,移民渐增的过程,对于大部分美国人,还是意味深长的,几乎有不可思议的影响。
11 blurring e5be37d075d8bb967bd24d82a994208d     
n.模糊,斑点甚多,(图像的)混乱v.(使)变模糊( blur的现在分词 );(使)难以区分
  • Retinal hemorrhage, and blurring of the optic dise cause visual disturbances. 视网膜出血及神经盘模糊等可导致视力障碍。 来自辞典例句
  • In other ways the Bible limited Puritan writing, blurring and deadening the pages. 另一方面,圣经又限制了清教时期的作品,使它们显得晦涩沉闷。 来自辞典例句
12 elite CqzxN     
  • The power elite inside the government is controlling foreign policy.政府内部的一群握有实权的精英控制着对外政策。
  • We have a political elite in this country.我们国家有一群政治精英。
13 vaguely BfuzOy     
  • He had talked vaguely of going to work abroad.他含糊其词地说了到国外工作的事。
  • He looked vaguely before him with unseeing eyes.他迷迷糊糊的望着前面,对一切都视而不见。
14 entity vo8xl     
  • The country is no longer one political entity.这个国家不再是一个统一的政治实体了。
  • As a separate legal entity,the corporation must pay taxes.作为一个独立的法律实体,公司必须纳税。
15 dwarfs a9ddd2c1a88a74fc7bd6a9a0d16c2817     
  • Shakespeare dwarfs other dramatists. 莎士比亚使其他剧作家相形见绌。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The new building dwarfs all the other buildings in the town. 新大楼使城里所有其他建筑物都显得矮小了。 来自辞典例句
16 adoption UK7yu     
  • An adoption agency had sent the boys to two different families.一个收养机构把他们送给两个不同的家庭。
  • The adoption of this policy would relieve them of a tremendous burden.采取这一政策会给他们解除一个巨大的负担。
17 ancestry BNvzf     
  • Their ancestry settled the land in 1856.他们的祖辈1856年在这块土地上定居下来。
  • He is an American of French ancestry.他是法国血统的美国人。
18 derived 6cddb7353e699051a384686b6b3ff1e2     
vi.起源;由来;衍生;导出v.得到( derive的过去式和过去分词 );(从…中)得到获得;源于;(从…中)提取
  • Many English words are derived from Latin and Greek. 英语很多词源出于拉丁文和希腊文。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He derived his enthusiasm for literature from his father. 他对文学的爱好是受他父亲的影响。 来自《简明英汉词典》
19 scribbles 31ca66845e0e856584b2b3ad225b47e4     
n.潦草的书写( scribble的名词复数 );乱画;草草地写;匆匆记下v.潦草的书写( scribble的第三人称单数 );乱画;草草地写;匆匆记下
  • The scribbles on the wall must be the work of those children. 墙壁上的涂鸦准是那几个孩子画的。 来自辞典例句
  • There are scribbles on the wall. 墙上有胡乱涂写的字迹。 来自辞典例句
20 misery G10yi     
  • Business depression usually causes misery among the working class.商业不景气常使工薪阶层受苦。
  • He has rescued me from the mire of misery.他把我从苦海里救了出来。
21 confinement qpOze     
  • He spent eleven years in solitary confinement.他度过了11年的单独监禁。
  • The date for my wife's confinement was approaching closer and closer.妻子分娩的日子越来越近了。
22 persecution PAnyA     
n. 迫害,烦扰
  • He had fled from France at the time of the persecution. 他在大迫害时期逃离了法国。
  • Their persecution only serves to arouse the opposition of the people. 他们的迫害只激起人民对他们的反抗。
23 hardy EenxM     
  • The kind of plant is a hardy annual.这种植物是耐寒的一年生植物。
  • He is a hardy person.他是一个能吃苦耐劳的人。
24 razed 447eb1f6bdd8c44e19834d7d7b1cb4e6     
v.彻底摧毁,将…夷为平地( raze的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The village was razed to the ground . 这座村庄被夷为平地。
  • Many villages were razed to the ground. 许多村子被夷为平地。 来自《简明英汉词典》
25 industrious a7Axr     
  • If the tiller is industrious,the farmland is productive.人勤地不懒。
  • She was an industrious and willing worker.她是个勤劳肯干的员工。
26 ingenuity 77TxM     
  • The boy showed ingenuity in making toys.那个小男孩做玩具很有创造力。
  • I admire your ingenuity and perseverance.我钦佩你的别出心裁和毅力。
27 ethic ziGz4     
  • They instilled the work ethic into their children.他们在孩子们的心中注入了职业道德的理念。
  • The connotation of education ethic is rooted in human nature's mobility.教育伦理的内涵根源于人本性的变动性。
28 streak UGgzL     
  • The Indians used to streak their faces with paint.印第安人过去常用颜料在脸上涂条纹。
  • Why did you streak the tree?你为什么在树上刻条纹?
29 inhuman F7NxW     
  • We must unite the workers in fighting against inhuman conditions.我们必须使工人们团结起来反对那些难以忍受的工作条件。
  • It was inhuman to refuse him permission to see his wife.不容许他去看自己的妻子是太不近人情了。
30 exterminated 26d6c11b25ea1007021683e86730eb44     
v.消灭,根绝( exterminate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • It was exterminated root and branch. 它被彻底剪除了。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • The insects can be exterminated by spraying DDT. 可以用喷撒滴滴涕的方法大量杀死这种昆虫。 来自《用法词典》
31 legacy 59YzD     
  • They are the most precious cultural legacy our forefathers left.它们是我们祖先留下来的最宝贵的文化遗产。
  • He thinks the legacy is a gift from the Gods.他认为这笔遗产是天赐之物。
32 meticulous A7TzJ     
  • We'll have to handle the matter with meticulous care.这事一点不能含糊。
  • She is meticulous in her presentation of facts.她介绍事实十分详细。
33 accounting nzSzsY     
  • A job fell vacant in the accounting department.财会部出现了一个空缺。
  • There's an accounting error in this entry.这笔账目里有差错。
34 distinguished wu9z3v     
  • Elephants are distinguished from other animals by their long noses.大象以其长长的鼻子显示出与其他动物的不同。
  • A banquet was given in honor of the distinguished guests.宴会是为了向贵宾们致敬而举行的。
35 belittling f2b71888b429fab9345a28d38fc35bfe     
使显得微小,轻视,贬低( belittle的现在分词 )
  • We must be realistic in our self-estimation, neither being conceited nor belittling ourselves. 我们对自己的估计应该实事求是, 不要自高自大,也不要妄自菲薄。
  • I find it belittling to be criticized by someone so much younger than me. 有个比我年轻许多的人批评了我,我觉得是小看了我。
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