O.K. by me in America*
Over at the American Copy Editors Society’s discussion board they’ve been trying to figure out where to put Puerto Rico.
The Associated Press, for reasons best known — and perhaps known only — to itself, sends news from Puerto Rico packed with its foreign report. And some newspapers unthinkingly put Puerto Rican news with the world coverage rather than the national.
Back in the palmy days of the McKinley administration, when the United States decided that it wanted to be an imperial power, there just weren’t many places left to colonize. (We had tried to grab Canada twice, once during the Revolution and again during the War of 1812, but the U.S. has never paid much attention to its spectacular failures.) So we picked a fight with Spain, a much-decayed and tottering imperial power, and for the trouble of a short little war took over the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. The Philippine state has been independent since 1946, but we got Puerto Rico and Guam fair and square in 1898, and we’re holding on to them.
Both are American territories, American soil, under the American flag, so it seems, well, odd to write about them as if they were foreign entities.
One comment in this discussion included a remark that “Puerto Rico just doesn't feel like a part of America to me,” which I was floored to see. Puerto Ricans have held U.S. citizenship by act of Congress since 1917. Whether they seem like Americans or not, they indisputably are.
It comes to mind that one of the issues leading to the events of 1775 and 1776 was the attitude among Britons that the colonists in America just didn’t feel like real Englishmen, with, you know, rights and things. Attitudes can be troublesome.
*Yes, an allusion, a line from the song “America” in West Side Story.