Civil discourse in Big Sky country
I have been rereading the June 10 cover story, "Rise of the 'green coast,' " which looks at the enormous potential of the northern Rockies to become America's new "green coast." The interviews with politicians, high-tech entrepreneurs, and environmentalists capture the kind of "energy" and optimism that is generally lacking in most accounts of the region – accounts that address energy only in terms of natural resource extraction.
These interviewees are confident and optimistic about the region's future. But there is something else about the piece that commands attention. The article has created a civic space in its pages, a forum for persons who hold often strongly divergent political views to find some measure of common ground as they think about the economic potential of the region. Might there be some hints of an emerging civility in Big Sky country? If we can imagine a fresh start for civil and civic discourse in the northern Rockies, the timeline for creating the new green coast will be shortened considerably.
Robert W. Rydell
Professor of history
Montana State University
Kids of US parents aren't immigrants
In the July 8 & 15 cover story, "The measure of an American," I was surprised to read the term "second-generation immigrants," defined as "American children with at least one foreign-born parent." If the one parent is US-born, the term "second-generation immigrant" is inappropriate and inaccurate. My children fall into this category, having been born in the United States and having a US-born mother and a Kenyan-born father. I've never thought of a person with an American parent as an immigrant. A child is a US citizen if one parent is a US citizen, whether the child is born in the US or not.
If the child is born in the US, it is especially ludicrous to refer to him or her as an "immigrant" of any generation. Anyone born in the US is an American citizen, so a better term for children born in America of two immigrant parents is "first-generation Americans."