The host on one of our early morning shows asked yesterday "What does it mean to be an American?" It's a bit of a crutch to throw out a generalized question like that. A better one would have been what are the differences between an "Old American" and a "New American"?
I'm an Old American. I enjoy the right to say what I believe in--even if someone else may disagree or take offense. I enjoy the right to practice (or not practice) the religion of my choice--and am safe from having the government tell me what my beliefs should be. I enjoy the freedom to publish what I want as news content--even if it is highly critical of the government or opponents of the government. And if I want to, I can peacefully protest decisions of my government--so long as I don't disrupt its function or deny others their right to free expression.
The New Americans are quite different from us Old Americans. The New Americans believe that only speech that does not offend or challenge their way of thinking should be allowed in any format. They believe that the government should dictate the way to practice one's religion (unless it is a relatively new religion practiced by just a few). New Americans want the government to decide which media outlets present the proper facts and to shut down publication of all other forms of content so that people don't have to decide what they consider to be "the truth". And New Americans believe that government operations they do not agree with should be blocked--by pre-emptive legal action, by force or by destruction of public property.
New Americans also have a very different definition of "Independence". They believe people should be dependent on the government for their health care, for their transportation, for their child care, for their means of communication, for all aspects of their education and for their income in retirement.
But most importantly, New Americans really don't want to be Americans anyway. They see the entire history of the country as a constant "failure". That the governing document is so fundamentally flawed that it should be ignored in nearly all instances (save for the Equal Protection Clause--which often benefits their efforts) or that it should be interpreted through whatever social mores are popular this decade. New Americans want to be more European than anything else. They want to embrace the policies of the nations that the Old Americans fought to escape the control of--and then fought almost 200-years later to provide the opportunity to experience American-style freedom when totalitarian governments took over again.
So what does it mean to be American? A lot less freedom and indepdence than it used to.