How Can People Say The Left Doesn’t Love America?

On one of my nonpolitical email lists, someone posted the following message:

If you really had to move away from the U.S. what country would afford you the most peace of mind/freedom from fascism?
New Zealand?
Canada has just adopted the U.S. No Fly list and has gone conservative, governmentally that is
Denmark?
Fiji?

To which these replies came in (quoted in their entirety):

“If I won the lottery today, I’d move to Iceland tomorrow.”

“here here”

“I’d go to Italy (they have better food than New Zealand).”

…and then I replied:

I’m so f@@king tired of people who have no sense of history or reality waving the “fascism” flag and promising to leave…

[snip], I’ll happily front $500 toward your plane ticket and help you on your way. Just stay out of the country for two years, and it’ll be yours with no other obligation. Anyone else want to come in on this with me?

You could go to the UK where complaining about an immigrant teacher’s accent gets you time in a holding station, or where you’re on government -sponsored TV everywhere you drive (and they track the license plates)…

You could go to France where criticizing an (arguably false) piece of TV news gets you hauled into court for defamation, and fined.

Or just skip to the head of the line and go to Venezuela, where protesting against the government gets you shot.

Or Iran, where you can have all the rights you want, as long as you’re straight, subservient, and don’t try and use the Internet or meet to complain about the government. Or especially meet on the Internet – like we are here – to complain about the government.

Don’t let the door hit you, etc…

Let me make it really, really clear. Why should anyone trust you with the keys to the country when you don’t love it enough to stay and fight to make it better?

And why should anyone pay attention to the notions of someone who thinks – seriously – that we’re looking down the barrel of a fascist state here in the United States?

70 thoughts on “How Can People Say The Left Doesn’t Love America?”

  1. So you move in one quick leap from a single loudmouth to every American on the Left? Cherry pick one extreme example and condemn millions by association?

    You must be a lot of fun on the question of race.

  2. Here’s a gedankenexperiment for you – given that all human societies are made up of indivduals, what exactly do you have to see in order to make assertions about social groups rather than the individuals who make them up? In what cases is it useful or insightful to discuss group behavior, rather than individual behavior?

    A.L.

  3. Give it up, Marc, takhallus has been able, based on absolutely nothing you’ve actually written, to justify calling you a racist in his mind. That’s a “goal” for his type of discussion.

  4. So “AL” has succeeded in convincing me that he doesn’t think “the keys to the country” should be given to “someone” who posted on one of his “non-political mailing list” or the other three jokers who followed up with snarky comments.

    A great and important post…congratulations, Marc; once again, a significant contribution to the political discourse.

  5. Oh, and getting back to politics….if this is a “non-political” mailing list, why do you presume the posters of those one-liners were representing opinions on the basis of their affiliation to the “Left” side of the political spectrum? Is there other evidence (i.e., are they signing their messages “DemLover” or “IHeartDukakis”)???

    Are only people on “the Left” worried about fascism?

    Sounds like you’re hearing what you want to hear.

  6. Andy – you can purposely miss the point if you want to but don’t presume to convince anyone else. Since Bush was elected, we’ve seen a torrent of abuse heaped on America and its current (and quite temporary) leadership class that hasn’t been matched in decades. And, yes, it comes almost exclusively from the Left.

    It is the worst sort of ill-informed, pathetically whiny, pseudo-sophisticated BS I’ve seen in my lifetime. At least in the 1960s we had some excuse for believing some of the crap that people were flinging on the wall: we didn’t know any better. But today, that excuse no longer holds.

    The utter garbage that is thrown about today (i.e. the Fascism charge) requires a degree of willfull ignorance that is breathtaking to behold. Performing anonymous call-pattern analysis or failing to promptly inform the FISA court when monitoring foreign Jihadist calls in the US is Fascism? Do you even have the merest clue what real Fascism (or Communism or Nazism) was like? Hitler didn’t consult with lawyers to figure out legal limits. He didn’t institute military tribunals because full civil courts would be too expensive and time consuming. He formed gangs of semi-legal thugs to beat, terrorize, and intimidate anyone who so much as hinted at an opposition to radical ethnic cleansing. Then he murdered by the millions.

    And the Leftists in this country whine incessently (Torture!) because Bush has to beg for legal protection of American intelligence officers who are looking for guidance on the questioning of fanatical Jihadists who’d slit your throat at the first opportunity.

    Let me give you a clue – as long as you can screech your ill-informed complaints from the rooftops, it isn’t Fascism.

    (Sorry for being a bit over the top AL – I’m a bit cranky from having to deal with some of the same stuff you are experiencing)

  7. What’s sadder is (or more pathetic?), if we get an effective Democrat government they’ll destroy it too.

    There’s nothing wrong with well grounded, well rounded democrats that the Left can’t fix. With a jackhammer.

    Not that there are too many left. Joe’s a good guy, but he’ll have to eventually abandon the party.

  8. #2

    What exactly do I have to see? Something more than some nameless guys on an unidentified mailing list. You know, evidence.

    #4

    I didn’t call AL a racist. I made the point that it is dangerous to draw sweeping generalizations based on a cherry-picked example who happen to fit your pre-conception. Race is the simplest example, but pretty much anything will do: gender, nationality, faith, take your pick.

    It was an uncharacteristically thoughtless post. But then I understand the mood of building rage on the part of those who only now, too damned late to help, are beginning to see how badly we’ve botched both our current wars.

    Having spent the last couple of years singing soft lullabies about how everything was going to work out just fine so long as we all wished real hard and crossed our fingers, reality must be quite a shock.

    Lash out at “the Left,” blame the media, blame the Iraqi people as has been going on here lately. It doesn’t change the facts: Mr. Bush got every man and every dollar he asked for, and made every decision. Every man, every dollar, every decision. The “Left” had zero impact.

    But you know what did have an impact? People who insisted that honest critics of the war’s conduct were fools or traitors. Maybe two years ago, or even a year ago, this fiasco might have been fixed. But back then we were being lectured that it was all a matter of patience . . . patience . . . patience . . .

  9. It’s still a matter of patience; it’s become clear the we are damn low on it, for many reasons.

    Sorry you don’t understand #2; at what point do cherry-picked examples become trends?

    A.L.

  10. _Oh, and getting back to politics….if this is a “non-political” mailing list, why do you presume the posters of those one-liners were representing opinions on the basis of their affiliation to the “Left” side of the political spectrum?_

    Because they’re talking about leaving.

    During the Clinton years some of those on the right had their own list of signs that martial law was incipient. But they, generally being afraid that the EU/UN/NWO was coming to take over, were well aware of the period’s equivalents to AL’s list of European offenses against liberty, and weren’t proposing that “escape” to Europe would protect their liberties.

  11. AL:

    … at what point do cherry-picked examples become trends?

    When “Harper’s publishes a how-to guide for silly knees-bent running-about renunciant behavior.”:http://harpers.org/ElectingToLeave.html

    Urstadt gripes a bit about the difficulty of actually getting one’s worthless ass out of the Land of the Brave. People who make their living from welfare and fraudulent disability claims might find it difficult to get to the richer pickings in Europe, though Britain has lately become alarmed at the number of Americans that have managed to latch on to her teats.

    On the other hand he greatly understates the difficulty of naturalizing in Mexico, which doesn’t even want the people they already have.

    “This Daily Kos diarist”:http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/1/13/1242/11641 recommends Canada, Mexico, Ireland, or the Czech Republic for those fleeing Nazism, unless you want to stay here and start a revolution.

    The book to read on the flight (or in the trunk of your friend’s car if you’re smuggling too much dope to fly) would be “Quitting America”:http://www.randallrobinson.com/quitting.html by Randall Robinson, who now lives in St. Kitt, “a safe distance from the demons which evidently once frustrated his tortured soul.” But before you leave you should check out “Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America”:http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Out-Leaving-America-Self-reliance/dp/0976082276 by Mark Ehrman, who is hiding from fascism in Germany, of all places.

  12. If it will help the cherry-picked examples become a trend, I’ve had the same conversation with liberal friends. I know a lot of hard-core conservatives who are disgusted with the government — and even moreso during the Clinton administration. Never once did any of them say, “If such-and-so happens, I’m moving out of the country.” Liberals say this — regardless of whether they mean it — a lot.

    What conservatives say instead, in my experience, is: “If such-and-so happens, it will be time to take up arms.”

    To my way of thinking, that’s a classical American response: Jefferson would be pleased with it. But I think it also underscores that there isn’t another option for American conservatives. If you hate the way America is goign and you’re a liberal, Iceland or Canada will probably suit you. If you hate the way America is going and you’re a conservative, there is nowhere else.

    That leads to a more honorable mode of thinking, in the same way that drilling holes in the bottom of your boat makes it more likely you will capture the enemy ship. There is no line of retreat. You’ll fight or die for what’s here, because there is no other hope for the the life you love.

  13. That the U.S. has become (or at the very least, is on the way to becoming) a Fascist state is a staple of the Democratic Underground / Firedog Lake / Daily Kos core of the Netroots.

    (Just for grins and giggles, Google “Bush Fascist [insert netroots site here]”. Wear a raincoat.)

    It ain’t cherrypicking when the cherries grab you by the lapels and start screaming in your face.

    As for the more casual instances of bigotry, when people engaged in a “non-politcal” forum start talking about this country being equivalent to Nazi Germany, they are in fact engaging in behavior every bit as offesive as, say, a bunch of rednecks sitting around telling racist jokes.

    Both activities are pointless, groundless, and fundamentally uncouth.

  14. I dont think that its so much of the left not loving America (by and large of course they do), but a matter of the left embracing rampant hyperbole as a means of persuasion. And I dont think i need to cite page after page of prominent Dem politicians (never mind idiot celebrities) doing so to prove the point.

    Admittedly, the party out of power is far more likely to rely on demagoging than the party in power- they have nothing to lose. But it seems to me that many parts of the left (especially the far left) are taking a visceral pleasure in indulging in hyperbole to such an extant that they really believe it- if not intellectually at least emotionally. What i mean by that is logically if you really believed Bush was a fascist running the nation by fiat you probably wouldnt be so invested in the coming elections- why waste your energy trying to get the Democrats controlling the House and Senate if Bush has everything rigged? But its easy to claim America is in the throws of tyranny when you dont bother examing the claim with any sense of history or reason or perspective.

    They are welcome to do it, but I think its one of the major reasons Dems are doing so poorly despite god-awful republican governance. Middle America here’s prominent liberals spouting off about how we are living in a police state and just tune them out. I have no doubt that if Dems could discipline their message and just concentrate on how things like the deficit and the failures in Iraq (forget whether we should have gone in or not for a minute) they would win. Now if they actually came up with some actual ideas instead of just criticism they could win big- but lets just take it one step at a time. Start sounding like grownups instead of unserious rabble rousers.

  15. #15

    The Right frequently claims that we are

    1) committing murder when we use a destined-to-be-discarded embryo for research.

    2) That we are endangering marriage if two gays in Massachussetts get married.

    3) That if we don’t fight Sunni insurgents in Anbar they’ll soon be exploding nukes in Omaha.

    4) That gun registration is a prelude to burning the constitution.

    And the list goes on. And on.

    The Right’s favorite medium of talk radio is built entirely on hysteria and hyperbole and demagoguery. It’s absurd to pretend that demagoguery is somehow a Leftist franchise. You have to be so partisan as to be blind in order to believe that.

  16. #10

    No, it’s not just a matter of patience.

    bq. A surreal and ultimately disgusting facet of the Iraq fiasco is the lag between when a fact becomes obvious and when the fiasco’s architects acknowledge that fact. Iraq’s civil war has been raging for more than a year; so has the Washington debate about whether it is what it is.

    bq. In a recent interview with Vice President Cheney, Time magazine asked, “If you had to take back any one thing you’d said about Iraq, what would it be?” Selecting from what one hopes is a very long list, Cheney replied: “I thought that the elections that we went through in ’05 would have had a bigger impact on the level of violence than they have … I thought we were over the hump in terms of violence. I think that was premature.”

    bq. He thinks so? Clearly, and weirdly, he implies that the elections had some positive impact on the level of violence. Worse, in the full transcript of the interview posted online he said the big impact he expected from the elections “hasn’t happened yet.” “Yet”? Doggedness can be admirable, but this is clinical.

    That’s George Will speaking of Dick Cheney. And you.

    There’s patient, and then there’s deluded. You’re not just patient.

  17. #10

    No, it’s not just a matter of patience.

    bq. A surreal and ultimately disgusting facet of the Iraq fiasco is the lag between when a fact becomes obvious and when the fiasco’s architects acknowledge that fact. Iraq’s civil war has been raging for more than a year; so has the Washington debate about whether it is what it is.

    bq. In a recent interview with Vice President Cheney, Time magazine asked, “If you had to take back any one thing you’d said about Iraq, what would it be?” Selecting from what one hopes is a very long list, Cheney replied: “I thought that the elections that we went through in ’05 would have had a bigger impact on the level of violence than they have … I thought we were over the hump in terms of violence. I think that was premature.”

    bq. He thinks so? Clearly, and weirdly, he implies that the elections had some positive impact on the level of violence. Worse, in the full transcript of the interview posted online he said the big impact he expected from the elections “hasn’t happened yet.” “Yet”? Doggedness can be admirable, but this is clinical.

    That’s George Will speaking of Dick Cheney. And you.

    There’s patient, and then there’s deluded. You’re not just patient.

  18. Talkhalus,

    Here is a great litmus test to determine that the Left is the fascist, intolerant one.

    Are you offended by the existence of Fox News?

    If so, you are a left-wing fascist.

    Why? Because out of 8 news networks on TV, 7 are left-wing, and only 1 is not left-wing (Fox has Alan Colmes, Greta VS, Juan Cole, etc., which is far more than the number of Conservatives on CNN, etc. But I’ll let that slide).

    Being bothered by just 1 out of 8 networks not bowing to left-wing ideology, and not being satisfied with 7 out of 8 being left-wing, is evidence of which side is fascist. The Left.

  19. Sigh. I was prepared to vote for the Green party candidate for Illinois governor next week. I liked his position on tax reform, gambling and promoting energy alternatives. More importantly, I am sick of the corruption in both parties in our state. “Then I read this:”:http://www.ilgp.org/groups/media/ilgp-press-coverage/green-party-s-whitney-gets-attention-of-voters/

    bq. His top priority, according to his Green Party acceptance speech, would be to keep the Illinois National Guard “at home, out of Iraq. “As governor, I will be the commander in chief of the Illinois State Militia or National Guard,” he said. *”I realize that Illinois law states that it is the governor’s duty to give up our guardsmen and women to the federal government whenever the president orders them into active military duty.* “However, federal law does allow governors to veto a federal mobilization of guardsmen under certain circumstances, and I believe that there is a higher duty that supersedes the duty imposed by state law. “If elected, I will veto any further mobilization of our troops for duty in Iraq, on the grounds that the war in Iraq is plainly illegal and immoral.”

    Here’s a guy running for governor against mainstream candidates that have unfavorable ratings around 60% and he thinks its a good idea to sound like a goofball. The most important thing I want to do is violate state law and create a constitutional crisis. Not balance the budget, improve schools, end corruption, promote energy alternatives. I want to look like an ass and I want the Land of Lincoln to look like an ass.

  20. “The Right frequently claims that we are

    1) committing murder when we use a destined-to-be-discarded embryo for research.

    2) That we are endangering marriage if two gays in Massachussetts get married.

    3) That if we don’t fight Sunni insurgents in Anbar they’ll soon be exploding nukes in Omaha.

    4) That gun registration is a prelude to burning the constitution.”

    Sure, the Right has its talking points and spokespeople who are “over the top” as do the Left. For every Al Franken and Michael Moore there is an Ann Coulter and a Rush. While I sometimes find myself agreeing with Ann and Rush on a visceral level, I would be first in line to say that they are a bit over the top, and having watched my mom go through the ravages of Parkinsons and having sat in on the neurology consults, I think I have a pretty clear idea on what are symptoms of the disease and what indeed may be side effects of the medications. OK, who among y’all will admit that while you share a political philosophy of Al and Michael, those guys are mainly for whipping up the base but have their excesses? Bueller? Bueller?

    As to stem cell research being embryo murder, there are those of us who believe creating spare embryos in fertility clinics and discarding them is much the same, but that opinion hasn’t held sway in getting fertility clinics shut down. But a lot more of us are troubled by the slippery-slope argument in the direction of experimentation on human beings in the manner of say (evading Godwin’s law) POW camps of Imperial Japan.

    But then again, I haven’t seen any TV commercials where Pat Robertson looks in the camera and tells us that “stem-cell research is murder” while I have seen a TV commercial where an actor places his tardive dyskinesia on display to chastise me for condemning him to the long, slow, dignity-robbing death that my mom went through.

    If there was some proven use of embryonic stem cells to relieve Mr. Fox of this uncurable condition, or even if there was a near-term prospect for such a thing, we might be having a different debate on stem cells. A lot of things have been tried in Parkinson’s, including implanting fetal cells in the brain, but none of these things seem to hold up for long. There is an underlying disease process in the brain, and you can patch the dopamine system all you want, but what is to prevent that same disease process from wiping out the embryonic replacement for dopamine cells?

    The left too has its slippery slope — how about the NSA intercepts. Well, how about them? There is long historical precendent for even the most gentile of societies opening mail that passes across borders, and having grown up with relatives on the other side of the Iron Curtain, I have never had any expectation of privacy in written or spoken communication with them, either from the Socialist side or the Capitalist side.

    OK, running out of space. Gay couple from MA? Dunno, there is “that” wedding song performed at every Catholic ceremony that even Peter, Noel, and Mary are sick of by now — quotes Old and New Testament about “man leaves his mother”, “woman leaves her home”, “two shall be as one” — never thought of Peter, Paul and Mary as being square and unhip.

    Jihad in Anbar? This weekend I was shown a Lieutenant’s uniform with a 20th Air Force patch a day after NPR engaged in ceremonial self-flagellation over episodes in American history.

    2nd Amendment. It is in the Constitution, and the slippery interpretation of that one might relate to these slippery slopes on the 4th and 5th relating to those NSA intercepts . . .

  21. Shaw, im thinking of voting Libertarian for Illinois governor. I cant stand either candidate- and as much as I would like to see Blagojevich tossed out on his ear, Baar-Topinka has helped run the Rep party in Illinois so far into the ground i need to see her buried at the ballot box and put out to pasture as a powerbroker for good.

    For anyone that thinks voting 3rd party is throwing your vote away- it absolutely is not. In fact its one of the best ways to make your vote count. It wont influence the present election (but your vote wont anyway realistically), but after every election, especially close ones, the losing party looks at the 3rd party vote and thinks, “Man, if we only had that 3% we’d be right there”. Look at what Nader did to Gore and how much influence the far left now has over the Democrats. Ignore Move-on.org at your peril. Ideally i’d like the Republican party to look at this governors election and consider trending more small l libertarian going forwards. The only downside is knowing you voted for a Big L libertarian who are to a person lunatics. Think how red faced i’d be if through some electoral fluke i helped elect the guy who abolished fire stations.

  22. “I have not yet begun to fight”. – Captain of the Bonne Homme Richard.

    “Don’t you think you ought to bloody start? The d-ned ship’s about to bloody sink.” – Caleb “Stumpy” Turner, Bosun’s Mate, Bon Homme Richard

  23. Well, I’ve been dropping by lately because Marc mentioned he was working up a post on Iraq and would post it soon.

    Instead I get this anecdotal diatribe.

    Look folks, there are lots of good reasons to move abroad, but politics isn’t one of them.

  24. Come on guys, I think you all are missing the point; based on AL’s original message, it doesn’t look like he got serious answers to to his question about moving somewhere else.

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind moving to New Zealand because it’s small, beautiful and has a slower pace of life; additionally, I have a better chance of surviving a nuclear blast and its attendant fallout south of the equator, at least for a little while.

    Growing up during the Cold War finds me surprised that we haven’t blown ourselves to bits by now. I never expected to live as long as I have and I’m extremely pessimistic about the human race’s long-term survival. I have no hostages to fortune and I hope to die a natural death, but you folks with children had better get your act together and start solving some of these problems instead of arguing about silly things.

  25. “Sorry you don’t understand #2; at what point do cherry-picked examples become trends?”

    Well, we’ll start with -when the so-called trend-spotter can recognized the difference between:

    a. Random people on a “nonpolitical email list” and b. People who you should trust “with the keys to the country”.

    That is about as mindless an equivalence as can be made.

    Hell, man – there are “nonpolitical email lists” that discuss whether “Zaphod Beeblebrox is a real person”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaphod_Beeblebrox.

    Guess what?

    No one wants those guys to have the keys to the country, and they aren’t being voted for either.

  26. Confused, read the first message again:

    bq. _what country would afford you the most peace of mind/freedom from fascism?_

    They’re not talking about vacation spots or fallout shelters . . .

  27. “If you hate the way America is goign and you’re a liberal, Iceland or Canada will probably suit you.”

    Well, ‘cos liberals aren’t as hypnotised by American Exceptionalism as conservatives, and are somewhat more skeptical of the ancestor-worship that is the U.S.’ civic religion. Ultranationalism is not a virtue.

    “If you hate the way America is going and you’re a conservative, there is nowhere else.”

    Maybe because there is no parallel to American conservatism in other western developed countries: not in the U.K., Continental Europe or in Canada or Australia. Funnily enough, Gaullism is the closest to current Republicanism, IMHO.

    “That leads to a more honorable mode of thinking,”

    What, this:

    “What conservatives say instead, in my experience, is: “If such-and-so happens, it will be time to take up arms.”‘

    So in your view, if you lose the game, walking away is less honorable than kicking the board over and starting punching?

  28. SPQR:

    Name calling? I’m being as civil as anyone in this thread.

    I realize you don’t like disagreement, but mine is entirely within bounds and it’s a bit asinine to accuse me of name-calling in a thread where the lead-off post condemned a significant portion of the American people on the basis of a few anonymous comments on an irrelevant email.

  29. Actually I love disagreement. But that isn’t what your comment #29 consisted of. When you stop name calling, then you may wish to take up putting words in others mouths.

  30. SPQR:

    So, I make a joke about the Right and Franco in a thread where AL has seriously suggested that a handdful of anonymous comments on an irrelevant email lead inevitably to the conclusion that “The Left” hates America, and I’m the one engaging in name-calling.

    Yeah. I can see where that makes perfect sense.

  31. Davebo – apologies, but real world electioneering and work have me behind in writing the d**n thing – and it’s hard writing, because I keep finding myself in disagreement with pretty much everyone which suggests that I need to think and write harder.

    Any day now…

    Urinated States – thanks for making my point for me. Conservatives, for all their faults, do believe in American Exceptionalism which is why they are prepared to stay and fight for what they believe in – which is, as you may have guess what I wish liberals would do as well.

    I’ve talked in the past about a progressive view of “American Exceptionalism”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/004254.php

    It’s something I believe in deeply and will continue to fight for….

  32. Believe in American Exceptionalism? Sure, in a perfect world.

    But not the one we live in, where politicians will don the mantle of American Freedom and Liberty but only to cloak their true, un-American, and very unexceptional intentions and actions.

    Idealism is fine, AL, but let’s step down from the clouds and get real here, OK? What your arguments essentially amount to (as I have interpreted them over the months) is that if an American President does something, regardless of what it is (say, detain or torture innocent people without due process or habeas corpus), as long as they “talk the talk”, its OK with you, because “We’re American” and therefore “exceptional”.

    The difference between the Left and the Right is that the Left thinks American Exceptionalism (as with any other claim of inherent superiority) must be earned, while the Right believes it is somehow a birthright of Americans (or certain Americans, if your a Bush).

    We criticize because we love. If we didn’t care, you wouldn’t hear from us.

  33. “The difference between the Left and the Right is that the Left thinks American Exceptionalism (as with any other claim of inherent superiority) must be earned, while the Right believes it is somehow a birthright of Americans (or certain Americans, if your a Bush).”

    I’d buy that, if I could discern some plan (or set of plans) from the Left that looked like a recipe for earning (or re-earning) the mantle of American Exceptionalism.

    Pardon me, but my perception is the Left’s fondest wishes involve emulating more “enlightened” policies found in places such as Sweden. And the repeated appeals to “Global Tests” and “UN Mandates” and the like.

    How does the desire to be more like Old Europe, and to pay fealty to the will of an unelected supranational debating society, fit into a paradigm of American Exceptionalism?

  34. Andy L – the problem with having blogged a while is that you can start recycling old posts. But in this case, I think it’s truly appropriate. Go read this post back at “Armed Liberal”:http://www.armedliberal.com/archives/000477.html

    I know two really bad parents. One is a couple that simply refuses to control their children; they love them totally, and so, they explain, they love everything they do. Unsurprisingly, they are raising two little monsters. The other is a single mother who explains that everything bad in her life is the fault of her child, and that everything he does is wrong. Unsurprisingly, her child is depressed, withdrawn and equally badly damaged.

    I’ll define patriotism as “love of country”. Both the parents above (all three of them, actually) claim to ‘love’ their children. But to blindly smile and clean up when your child smashes plates on the floor is not an act of love. And blindly smiling and waving flags when your country does something wrong is not an act of patriotism.

    But…there is a point where criticism, even offered in the guise of love, moves past the point of correction and to the point of destruction. It’s a subtle line, but it exists. And my friend (who is less of a friend because I can’t begin to deal with her fundamentally abusive parenting) is destroying her child. And there are liberals who have adopted an uncritically critical view of America. Who believe it to have been founded in genocide and theft, made wealthy on slave labor and mercantilist expropriation, to be a destroyer of minorities, women, the environment and ultimately they argue, itself.

    My love of America is as unconditional as my love of my sons. In fact, it’s closely tied to my love of my sons, because their futures and the future of our country are wed.

    So, no thanks, I’ll take American exceptionalism whole, not conditional. And I’ve explained why, and will be happy to explain why again should it be so required.

    A.L.

  35. #38, #39;

    Please…again with the “they don’t have a better plan” crap.

    If you don’t listen, you’ll never hear. Constructive? Have you heard what Jim Webb (former Repub running as a Dem to defeat Macaca Allen) has said about Iraq, in 2002? He called it exactly as it has turned out. Did you pay any attention to what Kerry said during campaign 2004, or was it all just a “global test” in your ears?

    And what did Bush say that seemed so right to you at the time (I’m presuming you voted for him at least once in the last two cycles….correct me if I’m wrong)?

    Don’t expect anyone to engage you in a conversation about policies and plans if you’re going to be so dismissive and cynical. I certainly won’t: what’s the point? You’ll never be convinced unless you hear Dems saying what you think Republicans are….think about that for a minute.

    You need to be serious on the receiving end if you expect people to be serious on the broadcasting end. Your comments indicate you’re not.

  36. I really don’t have any idea what you mean when you say you’ll “take American Exceptionalism whole, not conditional”, Armed. It doesn’t make any sense in the context of politicians who, acting in the name of Freedom and Liberty, take actions that seem, to many or most lovers of this country, as being wrong and against the very principles that make America great and exceptional.

    Furthermore, if our leaders do not believe as you do, then America is in danger of losing the very things that make it exceptional. What you fail to acknowledge is that when this happens, America will no longer be exceptional, and it may not be possible to make it so again. To think that blind faith in principle alone can forestall this is to be profoundly ignorant of human behaviour and history.

    However, I see you can only think in anectodes, so don’t bother replying unless you can communicate with those of us who haven’t had the same personal experiences with posters on non-political websites or parents of misbehaved children living in the priviledged corner of America where you seem to reside.

  37. Andy, care to paraphrase Mr. Kerry’s stance(s) back when he was reporting for duty? I need a long bedtime story.

    As to Webb, how the Democrats managed to tie their hopes in Virginia to a born-again America Firster is beyond me.

    “You’ll never be convinced unless you hear Dems saying what you think Republicans are….think about that for a minute.”

    That might be relevant, if only I were a Republican…

    The only consistent message from the Democrats that I’ve heard is “we’re not Republicans”. Believe it or not, I’d be very good with that. (For all his “warrior” talk, I actually do respect Webb — I just think he’s an odd fit for a hero to the MyDD crowd, but hey, the Left is all about odd fits…)

    Seriously, provide some links. I’m more than willing to be persuaded. But I have to say, if you’re running Kerry up the flagpole, and are relying on someone who said of the Left and his beloved “rednecks:”

    And for the last fifty years the Left has been doing everything in its power to sue them, legislate against their interests, mock them in the media, isolate them as idiosyncratic, and publicly humiliate their traditions in order to make them, at best, irrelevant to America’s future growth.

    I start out far less than impressed.

  38. James Webb on the Confederacy:

    And so I am here, with you today, to remember. And to honor an army that rose like a sudden wind out of the little towns and scattered farms of a yet unconquered wilderness. That drew 750,000 soldiers from a population base of only five million-less than the current population of Virginia alone. That fought with squirrel rifles and cold steel against a much larger and more modern force. That saw 60 percent of its soldiers become casualties, some 256,000 of them dead. That gave every ounce of courage and loyalty to a leadership it trusted and respected, and then laid down its arms in an instant when that leadership decided that enough was enough. That returned to a devastated land and a military occupation. That endured the bitter humiliation of Reconstruction and an economic alienation from the rest of this nation which continued for fully a century, affecting white and black alike.

    You have to go to the Google cache of the original page; seems he’s removed it from his site.

    Some Dem consultant must have decided nostalgia for the Confederacy wasn’t a “plus” in this election cycle….

  39. No, Andy it’s because you completely misunderstand what American Exceptionalism means. It’s late and I’m busy on something else, but I’ll suggest that you click back to my earlier post and then to the Schaar on patriotism article that I cite and link.

    No government can make America or our exceptionalism go away. It’s not in our policies, but in our nature. And that’s not a ‘blut und volk’ argument, it’s one that comes directly from Lincoln.

    A.L.

  40. “Conservatives, for all their faults, do believe in American Exceptionalism which is why they are prepared to stay and fight for what they believe in – which is, as you may have guess what I wish liberals would do as well.”

    I’ll elide the issue of American Exceptionalism (I think its nonsensical to believe in the intrinsic goodness of a nation, rather than that having to be earned: Rorty’s Achieving America is excellent on this), and return to the national identity question.

    Here’s the left formulation you object to:
    “My national identity is contingent on my nation not violating [checkbox A,B,C]”.

    But, as evidenced from the comments above, including the “take up arms” comment, the formulation of many conservatives is:
    “This group of [others] is not truly American if they do not meet [Checkbox A,B,C]”.

    It seems obvious that I can reasonably regard my national identity as contingent. It does not seem reasonable to regard other citizen’s national identity as contingent.

    [Curiously, as someone who’s lived a long time in Northern Ireland, I’d say the difference in beliefs about national identity above directly mirrors that of Northern Ireland Catholics and Northern Ireland Protestants. Maybe its not so surprising, as U.S. protestantism was strongly influenced by the Scots-Irish.]

    I can’t share the desire to emulate the conservatives in their enthusiasm for a bigger stronger nationalism, when Europe, Canada, Australia and more are going post-nationalist.

    Lastly, there’s a more mundane: only a quarter of the U.S. citizens hold a passport, and of those ~60% favored democrats in the 2004 elections, versus ~35% for Bush. Liberals and the left are just more likely to have spent time abroad, or to have strong immigrant ties. Other nations are not so alien to them.

  41. Mark: James Webb on the Confederacy …

    Webb left out one fact about the Confederate Army that contemporary Democrats might find inspiring: By the end of 1864, more than half of the men on their rolls had deserted.

    I had a more substantive post that was actually on-topic, but it was rich in useful links so it now resides in the queue like an intestinal blockage. So I thought I might as well grab a bucket of tar and a big sloppy brush and join in with you guys.

  42. I never doubted the Democrats had a plan:

    First, get rid of Joe Lieberman . . .

    Second, find and run for office anti-war Republicans who liken affirmative action to Jim Crow.

    Third, make sure Joe Lieberman is still gone.

  43. Any post-nationalism in Australia came to an end on 11 March, 1996, when John Winston Howard took office as Prime Minister and promptly took former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s “Big Picture” of an Asian Australia to a big shredder and shredded it. In line with his retro-nationalist thinking, John Howard closed Australia to illegal immigration, something the Americans haven’t done. If you don’t like America because you think it’s not post nationalist enough, I have a friendly suggestion: go somewhere else, not here.

    For the record, I am a complete sceptic on American exceptionalism.

    For example, I do not think America is above the moral laws that bind other nations in relation to each other, and that it can give itself a free pass while others remain bound. Rather, I think that the United Nations centered progressive internationalist moral framework is unsound, and nations ought to ignore it when it suits them. There is no American exception, no justified double standard, no inferior class of nations that includes all nations other than America.

    I do not think that the Stars and Stripes, or the United States Constitution, or any other part of the American civic religion entitles those who uphold it to one peppercorn worth of anything that those with a different flag, or a different constitution, or no written constitution like the British are not entitled to.

    Americans are entitled to take pride in their national achievements of course. But only in the same way that, say, the British can take legitimate pride in their national achievements, such as the suppression of the slave trade.

  44. #28

    I agree the question was serious, I just didn’t think the answers were serious…

    “If I won the lottery today, I’d move to Iceland tomorrow.”

    “here here”

    “I’d go to Italy (they have better food than New Zealand).”

  45. “It seems obvious that I can reasonably regard my national identity as contingent. It does not seem reasonable to regard other citizen’s national identity as contingent.”

    Well, I suppose we have a fundamental difference in belief over the nature of ‘communities’. It seems to me that all communities have rules which make thier membership contingent.

    But that’s just an aside.

    The really interesting observation is that most of AL’s critics go a long way toward proving his point for him.

  46. “No, Andy it’s because you completely misunderstand what American Exceptionalism means.”

    No, AL, I don’t understand what it means TO YOU.

    But after reading the next line (“Its in our nature”), then I realize that you’re putting this concept into the same category as divine faith.

    Against which no rational counterbelief will be entertained by the faithful such as yourself.

    Thanks for clearing that up, and providing a way out of any further discourse on the subject between us, or you and anyone else for that matter. Typical.

  47. @Urinated States (should I presume you’re a leftist, or a Canadian?):

    Actually, Americans believe in the four rights expressly enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, and this motivates both liberals AND conservatives (and libertarians, and greens, and Scientific anti-empiricists and…). The more you actually know about US history, the less inclined to serious poison-welled partisanship you get.

    Those inalienable rights are, in case you need refreshing, Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, and the Right to abolish and/or reform governments whose actions are profoundly detrimental to those rights.

    So conservatives and libertarians who I served drinks to in the ’90s who were looking at things like the blatant “hey peasants, we can use excessive force whenever we feel like it” atrocities at Waco, etcetera, felt inclined to start arming heavily because they tend to take that fourth freedom more seriously. But all parts of the American policial spectrum are about achieving change… in their favor (see Federalist #10, and yes, I do teach American history).

  48. David Blue (#50), unilataralism is not the broadly understood root of American exceptionalism.

    The best example I know is when Lincoln tried to motivate the North after the Battle of Gettysburg. He described the nation as “conceived in liberty,” and in need of a “new birth of freedom,” not merely for us, but so “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Here are the elements: a unique history rooted in a philosophy, which is not static, but spiritually rejuvenating, and important, not only for Americans, but for the world.

    Today, portions of the Left wish that the Union had lost that war, not for any newfound sympathy for the South, but wishing that America could somehow be weakened. America is not a source for good, but what is wrong in the world.

  49. Actually, Andy, what’s typical is your unwillignness to go look at the materials I cited and comment on those. It’s a kind of lazy, flip dismissive style that honestly doesn’t suit the kind of discussions I’m hoping to trigger here.

    Want to try again?

    A.L.

  50. My basic take on American exceptionalism is that it is less true now than it was in Lincoln’s day, because so much of the world has become so much more American in character. Nations concieved in liberty are becoming less rare in the world; though, unhappily, they are not yet the norm. Capitalism, democracy, and Liberalism are becoming less rare in the world, though unhappily they are not yet universally accepted or even well implemented.

    It would be folly to suggest that America was not exceptional in almost every way at the time of its founding.

    Still, it still seems to me that America retains an exceptional character, if only in the sense of ‘different from the norm’ rather necessarily than ‘better than it’. Australia, Canada and New Zealand come close, England is still the parent of much we can take pride in, Japan and Korea we have given something of it, and Switzerland and the Scandanavian countries have parts of it, but there is still something about America which is very much an exception to the norm and which I for one love in its exceptionalism and would not part with it whether or not it is better or just merely different.

  51. bq. Actually, Andy, what’s typical is your unwillignness to go look at the materials I cited and comment on those. It’s a kind of lazy, flip dismissive style that honestly doesn’t suit the kind of discussions I’m hoping to trigger here. Want to try again?

    AL, you have this weird habit of relying on sources and examples that mean something entirely different from what you say. Case in point, the relevant passage of the Schaar article you link to above says this:

    bq. Americans, a motley gathering of various races and cultures, were bonded together not by blood or religion, not by tradition or territory, not by the calls and traditions of a city, but by a political idea. We are a nation formed by a covenant, by dedication to a set of principles, and by an exchange of promises to uphold and advance certain commitments among ourselves and throughout the world. Those principles and commitments are the core of American identity, the soul of the body politic. They make the American nation unique, and uniquely valuable among and to the other nations.

    *But it also says this:*

    bq. *But the other side of this conception contains a warning very like the warnings spoken by the prophets to Israel: if we fail in our promises to each other, and lose the principles of the covenant, then we lose everything, for they are we.”*

    In short, stuff like the recent torture law means for a lot of liberals that we’re at least starting to break those promises that this nation was conceived in. You don’t have to agree with them – I’m fairly certain you don’t – but you’re dead wrong to imply that they don’t understand what American Exceptionalism means. You’re the one who seems to have forgotten Schaar’s point – that it’s only real as long as we keep the faith.

    As for “the kind of discussions I’m hoping to trigger here,” what a laugh. You begin by slagging leftists based on the flimsiest of evidence, and give us a “discussion” where guys like PD Shaw inform us that the Left really wanted the North to lose. Yeah, great environment for the free and open exchange of ideas, really…

    Incidentally, I’m still not sure how big the D margin of victory is gonna be next week, but I’m very much looking forward to sticking around until then to see how you rationalize the difference between what actually happens and your prediction that Democrats would pick up at most one or two seats in Congress. Should be fun!

  52. _guys like PD Shaw inform us that the Left really wanted the North to lose._

    Chris, that’s not what I said, I said “portions” of the Left, and I typically don’t use Left as synonymous with liberal. “Christopher Hitchens” on Perry Anderson:

    bq. _A few years ago, when we jointly addressed a gathering in New York, he startled me by announcing that he thought the Confederacy should have been allowed to secede. His reasoning was elegant enough—slavery was historically doomed in any case; two semi-continental states would have been more natural; American expansionism would have been checked; Lincoln was a bloodthirsty Bismarckian étatiste and megalomaniac—but it was nonetheless remarkable to hear such a direct attack on the thinking and writing of Marx and Engels, who had been 100 percent for Lincoln and the Union and who had identified America as the country of future progress as surely as they had located Russia as the heartland of backwardness and despotism._

    I can find more such quotes in time, but the point of the Hitchens piece was that the Left, which was was once Marxist, has simply devolved into anti-Americanism.

  53. Ooops, forgot to link, and I’ll clean up the quote while I’m at it:

    bq. _A few years ago, when we jointly addressed a gathering in New York, he startled me by announcing that he thought the Confederacy should have been allowed to secede. His reasoning was elegant enough – slavery was historically doomed in any case; two semi-continental states would have been more natural; American expansionism would have been checked; Lincoln was a bloodthirsty Bismarckian etatiste and megalomaniac – but it was nonetheless remarkable to hear such a direct attack on the thinking and writing of Marx and Engels, who had been 100 percent for Lincoln and the Union and who had identified America as the country of future progress as surely as they had located Russia as the heartland of backwardness and despotism._

    “Subscription Required”:http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200603/marxist/2

  54. Chris, thanks for your comment that addresses the “source materials”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/009177.php#88708…I’ll disagree, because I think the core Schaar quote is the one just beforre the one you pulled:

    Abraham Lincoln, the supreme authority on this subject, thought there was a patriotism unique to America. Americans, a motley gathering of various races and cultures, were bonded together not by blood or religion, not by tradition or territory, not by the calls and traditions of a city, but by a political idea. We are a nation formed by a covenant, by dedication to a set of principles, and by an exchange of promises to uphold and advance certain commitments among ourselves and throughout the world. Those principles and commitments are the core of American identity, the soul of the body politic.

    Yes, if we become a nation whose core value is torture, we’re doomed. But we’re a long way from there – on that, I’m pretty sure we’ll disagree but that’s OK. The core issue, simply, is whether one believes that those values – the covenant between us as citizens – matters most, and whether you are willing to accept others into the covenant – in spite of differences in beliefs and heritage – as long as they accept that covenant.

    I believe that America still does that, and does it well. Doesn’t mean it couldn’t do it better.

    A.L.

  55. PD-

    bq. Chris, that’s not what I said, I said “portions” of the Left, and I typically don’t use Left as synonymous with liberal.

    The vast majority of people do use “the left” as a synonym for “liberal” – if you’re gonna break from that tradition, you need to specify it up front, otherwise we’re stuck playing definition wars. As for your claim that you only meant “portions” of the left, that’s well and good, except that you then say:

    bq. I can find more such quotes in time, but the point of the Hitchens piece was that the Left, which was was once Marxist, has simply devolved into anti-Americanism. [emphasis added]

    That is to say, you seem pretty comfortable here painting all of “the left” as being anti-American, so the gist of my original remark still stands.

    AL-

    bq. I’ll disagree, because I think the core Schaar quote is the one just beforre the one you pulled:

    Read my post again – I included every bit of the quote you did. More importantly, your original quote of the Schaar post contains both of the pieces that I quoted in a single paragraph, meaning that the bit I emphasized is part and parcel of the bit you emphasized.

    So let’s cut to the chase. You said above:

    bq. No government can make America or our exceptionalism go away. It’s not in our policies, but in our nature. And that’s not a ‘blut und volk’ argument, it’s one that comes directly from Lincoln.

    However, if one goes back to the original post, as you suggested Andy do, you get Scaar’s remark that:

    bq. But the other side of this conception contains a warning very like the warnings spoken by the prophets to Israel: if we fail in our promises to each other, and lose the principles of the covenant, then we lose everything, for they are we.

    Which is to say, Schaar explicitly disagrees with you that we can’t make our exceptionalism go away: our exceptionalism is our commitment to our ideals, and if we lose that commitment, we lose that exceptionalism.

    bq. Yes, if we become a nation whose core value is torture, we’re doomed. But we’re a long way from there – on that, I’m pretty sure we’ll disagree but that’s OK.

    No, I have never said or implied that I believe our “core value is torture”. Don’t put words in my mouth.

  56. Correction: I didn’t include Schaar’s sentence about Abraham Lincoln in my first post #58. Nonetheless, I believe the gist of my remarks still stand.

  57. Nows as good a time as any to drudge up Kerrys quote about people who botch their educations ending up in Iraq- its stupid but its kind of telling about the Democratic mindset of why people become American soldiers. Im vastly more entertained that Kerry replied to WH criticism by saying he wouldnt be lectured by a ‘stuffed suit’. John F Kerry calling anyone on the planet a stuffed suit is as hysterical as it gets, politically.

  58. #64;

    You really can’t let your guard down for one minute with you Republican’s, eh Mark?

    Here’s a report of what Kerry said, with quotes, from the AP:

    It came during a campaign rally for California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides. Kerry opened his speech at Pasadena City College with several one-liners, saying at one point that Bush had lived in Texas but now “lives in a state of denial.”

    He then said: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

    Kerry was talking about Bush, who as a result of his slacker education, is now “stuck” in Iraq.

    In my view, Kerry pulled his punches. What he could have said, more accurately, was that as a result of Bush’s purposeful ignorance, American and Iraqi lives are being lost in a war of choice at an alarming rate.

    Man, these little gotcha word games really get boring after a while. If all you have is a few words pulled out of context, then you really gotta wonder. This is how the Republicans operate….more concerned about slander than substance. Now what does that tell you, Mark?

    I could spend all night pulling up idiotic quotes from the current President of the US, furthermore.

    And let’s not ignore the fact that Bush has seemingly just allowed Maliki to call of a US blockade of Sadr city, where a US soldier is believed to have been “abducted.”:http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAQ?SITE=1010WINS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    Who the hell is in command of our forces in Iraq???

    NOTE: I didn’t change the subject, he did.

  59. Nows as good a time as any to drudge up Kerrys quote about people who botch their educations ending up in Iraq- its stupid but its kind of telling about the Democratic mindset of why people become American soldiers.

    Agreed but considering that John Kerry began his career by smearing Vietnam veterans with his “testimony” before the Senate, it’s not surprising that he?s now sunk to smearing our men and women serving our nation in Iraq. It was particularly stupid of Kerry though to try to spin this as “I was really talking about President Bush” when we already know that it was Kerry who was the lackluster student.

    “link”:http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/06/07/yale_grades_portray_kerry_as_a_lackluster_student?mode=PF

    [Bare link corrected for you. In future, please try to follow the posting guidelines regarding live URLs. –NM]

  60. Ordinarily I would be willing to accept Andy L.’s explanation of Kerry’s remark (#65). After all, we all know that Kerry can’t tell a joke any better than he can take one. As with his “regime change” joke, he has to call a press conference afterwards to explain why everyone who is offended by his lousy sense of humor is crazy.

    So Kerry could have said, “Sorry about the misunderstanding, this is what I meant,” and we could have let it pass. Instead, he claimed that people misunderstood his joke because the White House distorted his words. Apparently Rove has a man inside Kerry’s mouth.

    He also said it was crazy that anyone would think that Kerry, a veteran, would criticize thousands of American troops. Call me crazy, but this bizarre coming from a man who accused some 70% of Vietnam veterans of being drug addicts and war criminals.

    Has Kerry released his college transcripts yet? I’m just wondering, because his other academic records compare poorly to Bush’s, and somehow he wound up in Cambodia instead of the Kennedy School of Government.

  61. Andy L is right about Kerry’s (lame) joke. It never occurred to me that what he said could be interpreted as a slur on our troops until I heard Republican politicians saying it on the news. I see it this way: Republicans are obviously spinning the hell out of what Kerry said; however, if you hand your opponent a gun butt first and say “please shoot me,” you deserve to get shot.

  62. Fred – I think you’re close to right. Kerry’s a hoorrible speaker, and it’s v. reasonable to assume that he simply misspoke. But – a) he has blown the response as badly as I’ve seen a politician blow anything; and b) he needed to be extra sensitive because of that whole ‘reminiscent of Ghengis Khan’ thing back in the 70’s.

    A.L.

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