Friday, August 20, 2004

Olympic-Sized Doubletalk

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Headline: “Puerto Rico beats the United States in Olympic Basketball.” What’s wrong with the above statement? Well, the last time I checked, Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

As such, shouldn’t Puerto Ricans pursuing Olympic glory be required to do so under the banner of the United States if they are going to enjoy U.S. citizenship? If they desire the beneficence of being Americans, shouldn’t they want to be on the U.S. Olympic team?

More importantly, if we are going to permit such geographic and cultural separatism, to what extent are we going to allow it and on what grounds do we extend it to some but not to others? Some smart alecks will counter that Puerto Rico is not a state and thus not fully part of the Union in the same sense as those jurisdictions represented as stars upon Old Glory.

But neither is the District of Columbia. Does that mean Washington, D.C. should be allowed to have its own Olympic team? Unlike residents of Puerto Rico who don’t pay federal income taxes, residents of the District of Columbia are saddled with this form of revenue bondage without enjoying full legislative representation. The least we can do is to allow the District to enjoy the other forms of favoritism extended to other non-state areas.

Other Ricanists will argue that Puerto Rico deserves its own Olympic team since it is culturally distinct from the rest of America since the island is majority Hispanic. If that’s the case, do Indian tribes get to field their own Olympic teams since, in the eyes of the law, these distinct groups are often viewed as nations within our nation? Furthermore, since no one holding public office is going to lift a finger to stem the tide of immigration flooding this country, will the Puerto Rican Olympic team lose its justification for existence as Spanish influences comes to dominate the once-American culture?

Interestingly, when the South tried to exert an independent identity, this country fought its most devastating war to keep that region in line. Maybe we ought to grant the Confederacy its own Olympic team in consolation. A shame those still bent on making sure the South never rises again aren’t as vigilant against those out to wrest the national fabric asunder in an even more violent manner.

If Puetro Rico does not want to be identified with the United States, so be. But when they go, just make sure they know they won’t be getting anymore handouts from their rich, fat uncle they don’t like anymore.

Copyright 2004 by Frederick B. Meekins

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