Magazine | September 9, 2019, Issue

The Ancestral Diversity of Americans

People await examination at Ellis Island. (Undated/Library of Congress)
In the hurly-burly of politics, we usually don’t stop to note our simple, unadorned love of the things that make this country so marvelous. That’s what we’ve asked our contributors to our latest special issue, "What We Love about America," to do.

My wife and I were at the theater, watching a movie; as usual, we stayed to watch the credits through to the end. We reached a whole group that were obviously from India. Clearly, that one task had been jobbed out to an Indian company.

There had been Indian-sounding names in many other categories, as also names from all over Europe, from Muslim cultures, from Africa, and from Latin America as well. Yet in all those other categories, because the ethnic origins were so mixed up, I knew that they were Americans.

Ancestry.com tells me my forebears were 100 percent from the British Isles. But I’m American by birth, and where I live, in Greensboro, N.C., we seem to have a pretty good mix of African, European, Latino, and Asian origins. When I travel to places where only one race or ethnic origin is represented, I get a sense that someone is missing.

When I come home to America, nobody is missing. We have citizens whose ancestors came from everywhere. Whether those ancestors came willingly or not, legally or not, were well treated upon arrival or not, makes no difference: Their children and descendants are American now. And if any group of them had not come, we would be a different people, a poorer people.

Americans are from everywhere. We include examples of everybody. Wherever you are in the world, you have kinfolk, however distantly related, in America.

This article appears as “Ancestral Diversity ” in the September 9, 2019, print edition of National Review.

Orson Scott Card — Mr. Card wrote Ender’s Game, Pathfinder, The Lost Gate, and the forthcoming Lost and Found, among other books. He and his wife live in Greensboro, N.C., with a constant stream of patio visitors ranging from finches, chickadees, and bluebirds to opossums, raccoons, and squirrels.

In This Issue

What We Love About America

U.S.

American Men

American men — with few exceptions — treat you like a human being, in a free, natural way, because they’ve done it from the nation’s youth.

Books, Arts & Manners

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