I read an interview recently with a Buddhist priest who was (in 2007) living in New York City. I was taken with this bit:
I think the best appeal of New York is that you can experience many kinds of cultures and meet with many kinds of people from all over the world.
I’m totally Japanese and came from Japan so I stick to being a “100% pure Japanese” here in New York. I believe that is a real New Yorker. New Yorker and “Wannabe American” are totally different. I want to be a New Yorker.
I haven’t lived in NYC, but this general idea appeals to me deeply— not just as a conception of New York, but as a conception of America. Any national pride I feel is for that America, the country that allows people from all over to meet, to contribute, to make something new and wonderful without demanding that they check their differences on the way in.