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GUEST COLUMN

There's only one label that counts

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Cartoon by Jones

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that minority births in America have eclipsed those of whites of European ancestry. Boy, have the media been in a tizzy over that one.

As it goes, non-white minorities (Asian, Latino, black or mixed race) accounted for 50.4 percent of births as of July 2011.

That's because white Americans of European ancestry don't have as many kids as they once did. Big Irish Catholic families like mine are a thing of the past.

White Americans of European ancestry are aging, too. Fewer women in this demographic are in their child-bearing years.

America's minority demographics are the opposite, though. There are lots of minority women in their prime child-bearing years and some, such as Latinos, still believe in having big Catholic families.

The media, and some on the political left, are eating this story up. They love to classify people by skin color and ancestry. They love to make broad assumptions about how skin color and ancestry affect government policies and politics.

I wish they'd knock it off.

The only way people should be classified is this way: American-minded or not American-minded.

You remember how Americans used to think, don't you? Remember all the immigrants who came to America in the late 1800s and early 1900s who didn't ask for anything but the opportunity to better their lives?

The only rights they cared about were their unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Some in America worried then about a permanent underclass imposing its culture on our country, but those worries proved to be unfounded, as hard working immigrants had children who fully absorbed the American spirit and would go on to help build and grow a remarkable country.

And that is exactly what we need more of. Here are the stories of three immigrants who are making America better - people I met while living in Washington D.C.

The first was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of a well-to-do family. Civil war destroyed his parents' business and it took them three years to flee their war-torn country.

They were penniless when they arrived in America. The parents and all six children took menial jobs. They saved their money. They opened a bakery. It now employs more than 100 people.

The second fellow had been a professor at a technical college in India, but his English was poor and he could not find similar work in America in his 20s. He worked menial jobs and saved his money.

He eventually purchased a mom-and-pop convenience store, a motel and other properties. He eventually brought over his wife and five siblings. He has two sons. Both are now American doctors.

The third immigrant fled civil war in El Salvador and came to America illegally. A smart fellow - he was halfway through his engineering degree when he left home - but he spoke no English.

He, too, took on menial work and eventually found his way. He would perfect his English. Lucky for him, President Reagan offered him amnesty.

As an American citizen, he would found a commercial cleaning company. He would marry and have three boys, all of whom would go to college and be productive, fully integrated U.S. citizens.

These three immigrants are more American-minded than many Americans these days. They hold the values that have made our country great, which is all that matters.

Ironically, their children and grandchildren are classified as "minorities" on Census reports, but does their skin color really matter?

Nope.

Their American-mindedness is all that matters and our country sure is in need of lots more of that.

- Tom Purcell is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. His columns are distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons

(Purcell@caglecartoons.com).

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