Loving America

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“I do not believe that The President loves America” ~ Rudy Giuliani

This accusation gets thrown by both and all sides from time to time. The patriotism of anti-war activists has been questioned by the right and the patriotism of tax cut advocates has been questioned by the left. I have not had much to say about it, not because I don’t have an opinion, but because I am not sure I understand what people mean by “America”. Maybe someone can clear this up for me.

Is it the geographical region of which The United States is comprised?

That’s not it, is it? I can’t imagine such visceral reactions over being accused of not having enough love for the soil, water, and air within a specific distance of wherever it is you happen to be at the time. I can’t imagine the following conversation actually taking place.

“To be honest, Doug, I prefer spending the fall in Southern Italy to here in Vermont.” ~Bill

“Sounds like you don’t love America, Bill.” ~Doug

“Don’t you question my Love of Country you Son of a Bitch!” ~Bill

“Bring it on, traitor!” ~Doug

OK, so it has to be people, right? It probably isn’t buildings or highways. It is the people. Which people? From my observation, many people speak of America as if it were one person, over two hundred years old, who is credited with every accomplishment that has taken place in The United States since its founding, and is also guilty of every crime that has taken place. If someone from England makes a criticism, and an American says “You’re just mad because ‘we’ kicked your ass.” or if someone says “America is guilty of slavery and genocide.” or “America put a man on the moon.” or “America nuked Japan.”, who are they talking about? Is it a shared, collective identity that makes it possible to either credit or indict anyone you wish, for any or absolutely no reason whatsoever, for any crime or accomplishment that has ever happened, as if America is a 200+ year old philosopher with a blood lust who moonlights as a scientist and engineer, between conquests, invasi
ons, heroism, and violations and happens to not only be himself, but he is us too?

It can’t be that either, because that makes absolutely no sense at all. No, you did not kick England’s ass, invent the assembly line, enslave people, become liberated from slavery, put a man on the moon, whip the Nazis, write The Constitution, or nuke the Japanese (unless you are really old and actually were involved in one or more of those things).

Everything that has been done by people, was done by those people who did those things, and they alone deserve either the credit or the blame for it. It is absurd to me that the previous sentence needed to be said, but it did.

But if we are going to believe in the social construct, be proud of the good things we didn’t do, feel shame for the bad things we didn’t do, then I think anyone would be about half right no matter who they accused of “not loving America” at any given time, because who can say they really love everyone, equally? We are in a situation of extreme polarization coupled with a bad case of group-think, and we are wasting time arguing about things that don’t exist when there are plenty of real problems to address. Barack Obama probably loves other Progressives, and Rudy Giuliani probably loves other Conservatives, and each likely loves their own quite a bit more than they love the opposition, and everyone else is probably much the same.

So that would make the accusation about 50% true, every time it is made about anyone, by anyone, if we are being perfectly honest about it, right?

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Poet and Amateur Farmer