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Feb 23 2015

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Does Obama Love America?

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Only Part of the Story, for Some...

Only Part of the Story, for Some…

Of course President Obama loves America. How is it possible to believe otherwise?

Where else on earth could a bi-racial man, son of an African father and an American mother, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii, rise to attend America’s most elite universities, amass staggering wealth through a book about himself, and become the first black president in American history, without a single legislative accomplishment, after barely two years in the Senate, with the middle name “Hussein.”

“Unprecedented” doesn’t quite capture how staggering the odds were against Obama doing what he has ultimately accomplished.  This truly epic achievement would be impossible anywhere else but here. POTUS says as much himself.

And when President Obama talks about the future, his vision is roughly inter-changeable with other American politicians across the political spectrum. Security from threats abroad. Health, advancement and prosperity at home. Good schools, a growing middle class, higher wages, access to higher education. Clean air, a safe workplace. To leave a society where the next generation can live better than the last.

So far, the President has achieved the extraordinary and preaches the conventional.

So why do we ask this question about love of country?

The question itself is a uniquely American query. Can we picture anyone asking Francois Hollande whether he loves France, or David Cameron whether he loves England?

The question is relevant to Americans because we were founded not on a blood line but a set of principles and ideas. What those principles mean and how they have been implemented over the course of our history, and how well we are judged against them, is a matter of interpretation.

So, in this new super-charged debate, Obama’s love of country is not the issue. What is suspect is whether Obama’s  love is informed by the mainstream narrative of America, accepted by the vast number of citizens, or something very different.

What could be different?

Check out The People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. Zinn, who described himself as equal parts anarchist and socialist, was a political science professor, playwright and social activist who in 1980 became a free-lance historian of what is effectively, an alternate American history.

For Zinn, American history can only be properly understood through the historical lenses of race, class and gender. At the heart of Zinn’s premise is a critical view capitalism as an economic system that is the root cause of racism, sexism, militarism, as well as other “isms;” an eternal struggle between those who selfishly own and direct the system for their further advantage, and those locked out from it, trying to secure a decent life.

To his credit, Zinn’s book does shine a light on chapters of the American story that are rarely taught in detail in American schools –  US government treatment of Native Americans; the genuine anti-war movements during the Civil War and WWI. The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

But Zinn’s preposterous conclusions and shoddy scholarship outweigh the value of his fuller historical record.

Zinn posits that Columbus’ landing in the New World triggered what became the Western Hemisphere’s first genocide. That racism was intentionally created after the start of the slave trade to separate poor whites from black slaves, as a tool to enforce the capitalist economic system. That the American Founding Fathers agitated for war against England to distract poorer people in the colonies from their economic problems, and to prevent the threat of growing domestic movements that the Fathers could not control. That the Civil War was fought, not to ultimately abolish slavery but to preserve capitalism, with the Federal government dictating (and limiting) the rights of African-Americans.

For Zinn, the Industrial age saw the dawn of the corporate robber barons and the war profiteers who have been inside players, moving the political pieces, through much of the 20th and 21st centuries. As the sole super power at the end of WWII, Zinn has seen only the most nefarious motives as the US has regularly overthrown popularly elected governments and supported repressive regimes, all in the service of capitalism, justified on national security grounds, that the public willingly accepts.

Far from being a that “Shining City on a Hill” that Reagan spoke of,  Zinn believed that America had much to answer for in its organization and shameful conduct over its history. A record of enduring selfishness, its inflicted deprivations at home and abroad. While America’s founding had held the promise of true justice and equality, those ideals have gone unmet.

Now, back to President Obama.

Doing my best impression of Scott Walker, I don’t know whether POTUS has ever read Zinn’s book, or if he had, whether he agrees with parts or all of it. But Zinn’s book is nevertheless a  reflexively accurate view of the world as articulated by today’s American progressives, a view that would be consistent with those of Obama’s teachers, known professional associates and his well-known pastor, in the years leading up to his election.

And writ broadly, it is a view reflected in his policies. Obamanomics, at its heart, is a gigantic wealth redistribution scheme. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Justice Department have taken engagement on worker rights and race consciousness to a new level.

In foreign policy, the President has sought to publicly admit “errors” in past US actions around the world as a cleansing exercise to more authentic – and humble – US international participation. Whether it be US culpability in the 1953 coup in Iran that installed the Shah, or POTUS’ more recent comments noting millennia-old actions by European Christians to discuss the modern threat from ISIS, President Obama misses no opportunity to point out to the world that America sins like everyone else and is by implication, no different and certainly no better. As the President said, Americans are exceptional in the same way that Greeks believe they are exceptional.

For President Obama, it is the struggle that is great about America. The ability to challenge racism, sexism, the military-industrial complex. To battle the structural, entrenched interests that prevent America from living up to the potential of the Declaration of Independence.

So, with every respect to the former mayor of New York, I do believe President Obama loves America.  I think he loves you and me. But that is not the same a loving America for the ideals,  principles and accomplishments that I, and a very broad cross-section of America value.

An against-all-odds struggle to win independence and establish the first republic since Rome. The genius of our Founders in creating an enduring government based on a sovereign people, guaranteed rights, limited government and separation of powers. A country as imperfect as any, but dedicated to perfecting its union. Abolishing slavery and establishing woman’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, each in its own way advanced America’s collective interests. Serving as an arsenal of democracy world-wide, and founding an international order that in less than a half century has created more wealth and lifted more people out of poverty than at any time in human history.

That’s my America. Imperfect but perfecting. A fallible country, but a decent, generous and tolerant people, dedicated to founding principles, who continue to strive, proud of epic accomplishments and sacrifices. An exceptional country, not because we are better than everyone else, but because our founding was the “exception” to all others that came before it, and remains a light for a world filled with darkness.

That’s probably not how the President would see it, if he were being candid. But that does not mean that POTUS doesn’t love his country – he just doesn’t love it for the same reasons as many of his fellow countrymen do.

If you didn’t know that, remember hard when we vet the next candidates to assume the nation’s most consequential office.

 

 

5 comments

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  1. Thomas M.C.WONG

    …hmm, I’m not sure you are not looking at “loving this country” from rose colored lens. To say, “…he loves you and me. But that is not the same a loving America for the ideals” is being disingenuous to all your core values. In listening to MSM trying to get those conservatives of note to throw the “mayor” under bus, there have been a few who try to appear sympathetic to O with lines i.e., “I don’t agree with the “mayor’….then struggle to find a reason to back that statement knowing it was lie to begin with when they in reality agreed with the mayor’s statement. It seems you have fallen into the same trap.

    ,,,to say, “he loves you and me…” is such a lie…how do you know that? Have you met him personally? Here is a man with zilch skills except, as skillful mouthpiece, no better than used care salesman…apologies to all use car salesman. You open with hims raised in Hawaii…and so…I’m from Hawaii…for anyone to go to Punahou, you have to have money and/or know someone of worth or both to get into that school… understand, Punohou was a school set up by missionaries who made out very well in Hawaii…it was an exclusive school for the whites. That aside, I could spend pages on this suffice to say, he does not love me or you in the way you would like to think, you sir are playing the apologist. O loves you and/or me only in the way in how or what he can get from you…mainly, your money…be it for him or for his party…

    …were this another time and he was King…think King Richard III when he went after the Barons who opposed him…you don’t think he would unleash his muslim army to teach us a lesson?? He knows he cannot do that were that his deepest desires because he knows that the armies will divide and cannot know who will win…this is a deeply disturbed man…with no identity, in search for an identity….why else when asked a simple question, his response if “I am president” or “I won”…not the “People won” or “because the people wanted it so…”

    …prior to become a clinical therapist, I was a graphic artist for 18 years and to have a POTUS degrade my efforts, my sweat and tear with “you didn’t build that…” He did not spend endless hours meeting deadlines, meeting with clients, meeting with accountants to make my taxes…to add “you didn’t build the roads that got you where you were going…” Bullshit…taxes took a third of what I make…to pay for the roads and whatever…so…BS!!

    …you forget this is a man, constantly looking for allies, and he will say anything, do anything to gain allies…did you forget the Obama phones? Who pays the bill at the end of the month? We do!! Did he ask me if it was okay with that? Did he ask you? But it got him a lot of votes didn’t it?

    1. duffysoa

      First, thank you for taking the time to read my post, and for your detailed reply.

      I am many things, but an apologist for President Obama is not one of them, as the 400+ posts will attest. To your point, I am guilty of being glib in using Rudy Giuliani’s exact phrasing, it if is interpreted in the literal sense. If POTUS were to read my posts, I don’t think there would be any love lost.

      The essence of post boils down to this question: Can there be more than one interpretation of American history and the American experience, and if that interpretation is critical, does holding it mean you are unpatriotic, or anti-American or don’t love your country? Does the President take the actions that he does because he truly believes he is helping certain classes of Americans? Or because he is trying to intentionally undermine America, like the Manchurian Candidate?

      I fundamentally disagree with Obama’s governing philosophy, and I vehemently disagree with the vast majority of policy initiatives. I don’t believe he was prepared to be President, and as we are having this debate 7 years into Obama’s term, the country did a lousy job vetting him in 2008. He was accepted at face-value on a thin resume and platitudes, where any serious investigation would provided Americans with a clearer view of the origins of Obama’s ideology. But the American people voted for him – twice.

      In that sense, this dust up now is largely beside the point. That it is generating such controversy only shows how little we understood Obama at the onset and through today.

      Last point. In all the buzz about this, I haven’t heard any of the talking heads – particularly on the Left – make the distinction that I did about Obama’s fundamentally different construction of American history. Instead we now have Obama Derangement Syndrome and the always handy “bigot/racist” labels. “People who can’t stand to have a black man in the White House” canards. I don’t believe they will make this argument – patriotic but with a fundamentally different historical view – because it would be admitting something that they have tried hard to keep hidden for so long.

      Again, my thanks for reading.

      C2

  2. Thomas M.C.Wong, MSCP

    …”your’re preaching to the choir”…I think we share the same core values and love for America. As I said, I was reacting to the comment “he love you and me…” If he love America and listening her, he is not doing what she is asking, the XL pipeline, opening up more fields for oil exploration, closing the borders before granting amnesty and give those who is going through the process of citizenship but I don’t need to tell you this…

    I was born in Hawaii when it still under the stewardship of U.S., we did the pledge of alligence to the flag, sang the national athem then followed with the Hawaii national athem and we are none the worse for doing it…no one taught us patriotism, you either love her or you don’t no amount of prayer or allegiance to the flag will endear you…we were taught to do military service as “pay back” or “give back” for the privilege of living, being allowed to be part of this great nation. I don’t see that will Obama…being brought up in a Communist household, with a Frank Davie mentor, 20 years with Reverent Wright…the man has been “turned”… Hcannot identify with the American blacks whose history has direct ties with the American slavery and he cannot identify with his white half because he is mistaken for Ameroican black which he is not…he is British black unless his real father is Frank Marshall Davies…but we won’ go there. Hence, I repeat he is a man lost to his identity, seeking allies who will think as he do, do as he do and call him King. You know, that’s what he wants to say when he says I am the President…in his heart he calls himself the “King”…

    …I apologize, if I appear dismissive towards you at time…I believe we both hold the same values and penchance for the truth…just sometimes I see you appearing to “buckle” for fear of being too hard on such a man…you cannot, not with such a small man who wishes to be King…

    1. duffysoa

      Not dismissive at all – I always enjoy the give and take. You raise complex and interesting issues.

      How I view Obama in this particular post is definitely fertile ground.

      Let me play devil’s advocate for the sake of argument. Is it un-American or unpatriotic to be against building the Keystone? Is it un-American to want all Americans to have health insurance? Is it un-American to try and improve the environment through standards for cleaner products/production?

      You get my gist. I’m personally for Keystone, against Obamacare and the climate change agenda, but I don’t think Obama or his allies are un-American because of what they believe. There is a line between Obama’s policy positions and whether he is taking them to (misguidedly) help or (intentionally) hurt the US. I think he has the best of intentions personally, but have profoundly negative impacts in the real world.

      I have no quibble with you that Obama’s formative years set him apart from the 42 men who held the job before him. He is one of a kind in that regard.

      But some perspective. My grandmother emigrated to the US from Ireland (legally….) when she was 24, looking for opportunity. She became an American citizen at 26. Until she passed at 105, she maintained that her happiest day was when she became an American citizen. That is all to say that if your formative years are not in the US, doesn’t prevent you from having a very deep love of country.

      What the President was taught, who his major influences were, his friends/associates – you mention identity – are all informative pieces. My post talked about what I consider an alien portrait of our country, that would be consistent with at least some of those views. But I don’t think that your anti-American if you believe that interpretation. Intellectually wrong, certainly, but not anti-American.

      I completely agree with you that POTUS has an expansive idea of himself and his power in office. And certainly, he’s praised China enough to know how wonderful it would be to be able to work without having to bother with Congress. I think most of Obama’s unilateral actions will ultimately be overturned in the Courts. But having served in two presidential Administrations, I can say this. Sometimes Congress – Republican or Democrat – makes you simply want to pull your hair out. 535 people who at any moment, can completely screw up your day for pretty much any reason they want. Justified or not. That’s the system, and its there for a reason. But the frustration is real.

      I think we can both agree that all this mess ends in 691 days. Obama was elected and re-elected. He will not be impeached. the best course is like a triage nurse, stop the bleeding until the doctor gets here. That doctor is a GOP president and Congress come 2017.

  3. Thomas M.C.Wong, MSCP

    …here, here…no it is not..”un-American or unpatriotic to be against building the Keystone? …un-American to want all Americans to have health insurance? …un-American to try and improve the environment through standards for cleaner products/production? ” It’s how one goes about doing it and for why, in equal proportions. Personally, I don’t thin Obama gives a F’ about equality for whatever, or that everyone is covered medically…it’s an ends to a means…it’s what’s in it for him and “his”. Having served his stint or better put, having suffered his eight years to be, he is covered for the rest of his life…he was barely a millionaire coming into politics and now, what he is worth maybe 10 million? Do the math…POTUS pay is what/ Does it add up? Nobody knows or can account for the the first Stimulus much less the second Simulus…is…do you? Most went to failed “green” companies and so on

    ..and not to sound racist, or steriletyping black leadership, BUT can you name one country or one of our states, county, city under a black democratic leadership that has done well, that has not fail because some character flaw? There exceptions I grant you but they remain exceptions..

    Obama is a proven liar. You know that. And he does it for personal gain. Pure and simple. It’s not so much what he has to say anymore, it’s HOW he says it. But you know that already.

    …thank you for letting me bliz…you are most kind…

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