The media are all ablither about Rudy Giulani's recent accusation that the President does not "love America."
What does it mean? It must mean something -- or more than one thing -- because so many people are reacting so strongly. It means different things to different people. A few guesses:
(1) It may mean nothing at all, beyond a verbal litmus test. Love America = good. Hate America = bad. No in-between, no qualifications. Which leads to...
(2) Obama, because of the socialists and lefties he was exposed to, not to mention Reverend Wright -- and because he is a man who appreciates balance and nuance, dares to point out America's faults, to acknowledge its errors and weaknesses, or to apologize for it abroad. No one who loves America would do this.
(3) He loves the freedom that we pride ourselves on, even if it's little more than the freedom to complain and consume (actually, a dozen nations are more free, and none has more citizens incarcerated).
(4) He loves American exceptionalism -- a civic religion that says we are #1 in everything and the kind of society others should aspire to, even if we have to force them to do it. That's why only we are qualified to be the world's policeman, guardian of the sea lanes, etc.. We are the good guys, always.
and (5), the root cause of the other four:
Obama has not, in Giulaini's eyes, had the requisite American apple-pie experience. He did not grow up on the streets of NY or Chicago or San Antonio, or on a farm in Kansas or a ranch in Texas -- or anyplace really American. He lacks the experience of living in a thoroughly American society -- and we have many, from Cambridge to Miami to Arizona and Wyoming. Obama spent his formative years in Indonesia and attended an elite private school in Hawaii. He may pretend to understand ordinary Americans, but he does not.
So as this accusation is batted about for the next few news cycles, notice how no one is trying to define the phrase "love America." Confucius said that you have to define your terms before you can have a discussion. It's fun to watch the talking heads argue about words (and hey, they're only words!) that are, in context, meaningless.
Thanks for the insightful reply and all the good data. IMHO, happy welfare states (and the Danes are some of the happiest people on earth) are possible only in small nations with ethnic homogeneity. There's a lot more trust of politicians and each other. We're all family. Nobody games the system or abuses it (cf. the billions in Medicare fraud here)
In ethnically heterogeneous states, there's too much conflict over the basics, over power, too much religious strife, and generally the lack of trust you need for the rule of law and a generous welfare state (where no one tries to take undue advantage, unlike the US). .
Alan, I agree with you, it takes an ethnically homogeneous state to function, such as the Scandinavian countries. While doing research there, I fell in love with the people and the beauty of the land.
I could not help but compare the experiences I had in Scandinavia and the small countries in Asia and Indonesia. When I went into the small villages in that part of the world, some of them still lived in dirt floor houses with pigs and chickens running free. I don't say they were worse off, however, they didn't have the comforts you and I have come to expect.
The corruption in Thailand was so blatantly obvious it just made me wretch. In the airport in Bangkok, handbags sold for $1,500. each. I visited a small manufacturing place with atrocious working conditions and the makers of those identical handbags earned $2.00 per week! I saw their living quarters and you would not put your dog in one.