Former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani caused a bit of stir recently for saying that he doesn’t believe that President Barack Obama loves America.
Guiliani claims that he wasn’t questioning the presidents patriotism, but his belief in American exceptionalism. The feeling among many Americans is that Obama has a tendency to criticize America far more than he praises America. The Left is, as one might expect, up in arms. And as one might expect the charges of racism followed quickly on the heels of Guiliani’s remarks.
Kevin Williamson makes some pretty sharp observations in his recent column for the National Review.
To ask the question is not the same as venting the familiar swamp gasses: that he’s a foreigner, at heart if not in fact; that he’s a Manchurian candidate sent to undermine the republic; that he’s a secret Marxist or secret jihadist sympathizer; etc. Put it this way: Why would anybody who sees the world the way Barack Obama does love America? For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons.
Barack Obama has a great, big, heaping dose of Holden Caulfield in him. That and chutzpah: When as a candidate he was in trouble because of his association with the racist lunacy of the Reverend Wright, he responded by giving the American public at large a lecture on racism and its culpability therein, while his minions began proclaiming that the only reason to oppose this politician with the racist associates was — presto-change-o! — racism. But if you believe that the system is basically rotten, that the society that produced that system is basically rotten, that the game is rigged, that your opponents are all phonies and hypocrites, then what’s a little intellectual dishonesty in the service of the common good? There is very little that a man with Barack Obama’s views and proclivities should love about the country, beyond the fact that its people are so vulnerable to insipid sentimentality that they twice elected him president.
There is an awful lot of truth in Williamson’s words. I have no idea what the president actually believes. However, I do know that given his words and behavior, there is nothing inherently wrong in asking the question; it may be politically clumsy, but it is far from disingenuous.
The attitudes that Williamson describes are so prevalent among the Left that Leftists don’t even realize it, until it’s pointed out. Of course, from their perspective, they are simply wanting America to live up to her greatness. And in some cases that is certainly true.
However, what the Right is critiquing is not the criticism of those areas in which our nation has fallen short, it is the reluctance to celebrate this nation for the wonderful things she has gotten right; it is the embrace of voices that have nothing but contempt for America; the willingness to subordinate American interests to those of “the international community,” whatever that is. (Remember John Kerry and his Global Test? Good grief!) The Right questions the Lefts refusal to lead and their willingness (eagerness?) to be led by other nations, (what they call leading from behind); the embracing of America’s enemies. Ultimately, the Right questions the Left’s belief that America’s greatness is serendipitous, rather than the result of the ideals and principles upon which the nation was founded. – that our culture, our way of life, our IDEALS are no greater or of no more value than those of any other nation. Why, the Right asks, is the Left so willing to view this nation in the worst possible light.
Some months ago, I had the opportunity to meet an 84 year old woman who had immigrated to the United States from Russia. One of the most striking things she said during our conversation was, “I don’t understand why you Americans put your country down. I think the people who do so have no idea what it is like in other parts of the world.” It would certainly seem so.
I don’t know if the Left loves America or not; only they know what is in their hearts. I do know that the negative attitude and the unwillingness to profess that love certainly raises the question.