By Joseph Kellard
On St. Patrick's Day I won’t be wearing a button that reads “Proud to be Irish.” While I’m of Celtic stock, I’m neither proud nor ashamed to be Irish, but indifferent to this fact, as I would be if I were of any other ethnicity or race. Instead, I’m proud to be an individualist and an American, and believe our nation would be much better off if each of us rediscovered this outlook.
Individuals, of course, can properly enjoy ethnic-oriented celebrations such as St. Patrick's Day, with their particular music, dance, food, drink and (green) outfits. But I won’t proclaim any pride in my ethnicity or race.
That’s because pride is the emotional reward an individual earns after he achieves personally chosen rational values, such as honesty, a productive career, sticking to a healthy diet and earning a doctoral degree. Conversely, a man’s racial makeup is inborn and therefore outside his realm of choice. He can’t take pride in this non-achievement. And while he can be proud that his role models are individuals who did great things, he can’t take any pride for their achievements, especially because he shares their race.
For example, I can’t take pride for being a white man because Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were great achievers. To do so would be to adopt a false pride. Only through my own choices, actions and achievements can I, like any individual, foster pride.
I’m proud that I’ve overcome some learning obstacles in my youth to achieve certain goals I set, such as becoming a writer. I’m also proud to be an American, but not because I was born here, or because I belong to a nation that produced the great Americans previously mentioned, or because I subscribe to the faith “my country, right or wrong,” a nationalist attitude typical in Europe.
Instead, I’m a proud American because I chose to remain here and live by and fight for the original ideals that built this great nation: a love of the liberty that allows me to pursue my own life, values and happiness. In this land, I’m still free to choose my own creed, career, productive activities and friends, and be a self-made individual, just like the Edisons and Fords of America.
Being Irish is part of who I am, part of my heritage, but it plays no role in my basic identity. I define myself by the values and goals I chose to pursue and achieved, not by unquestioning conformity to the traditions of my ethnic-racial ancestry, nor by its achievers.
Yet America, the land of individualism, even in the aftermath of electing its first black president, remains Balkanized by race. This problem originates when children are taught to identify themselves primarily with their ethnic-racial heritage. Unchecked by individualism — by the idea that each person is autonomous and has the free will and reasoning mind to think for himself — these teachings lead, ultimately, to such abominations as calls for slave reparations, in which the individuals who would receive these handouts were never enslaved, nor have the individuals punished to pay them ever enslaved anyone. In reality, no individual is responsible, guilty or innocent, not as victimizer nor as victim, by virtue of their racial ancestors.
It’s high time for Americans to shed their false racial “pride” — and should stop championing essentially race-based pseudo-ideals such as multiculturalism — to pursue universal values beneficial to all men, no matter their biology or background. Identifying primarily with one’s physical genetics or racial heritage, and the eventual irrational divisions, wars and mass killings this tribalism has ultimately caused throughout history, is nothing to be proud of.