Last week the former mayor of New York questioned whether the President loves America, painting him as an alien spirit who does not share the normal patriotism of its citizens. In this morning's Wall Street Journal, he backs down from his obnoxious perch:
Giuliani has been criticized for his remarks and has found only minimal support from Republican leaders and Presidential candidates with strong support coming from the lunatic fringe.
The whole episode reminded me of remarks about the chauvinist patriot made by George F. Kennan some years ago in his book Around The Cragged Hill. Kennan, who worked in the State Department, was the author of the so-called Long Telegram and the one who devised the containment policy of the United States in the Cold War. He lived to a great age and was politically sharp until the end of his life. He is his take on the superpatriot:
Where the normal nationalist, the proper patriot, sees the absurdities of his society as well as the strengths, the chauvinist sees only the latter. Where the view of the former combines pride with pity, the chauvinist sees only the pride, and this in exaggerated form. Where the normal nationalist see his country simply for what it is to itself, the chauvinist---always self-conscious, always posing---sees it primarily in its relationship to others, in the competitive and comparitive aspect of its qualities. He is in fact extremely sensitive to this aspect of it. It is not enough for him to affirm the superiority of his own nation; others must be brought to acknowledge it. The same sense of insecurity that prevents the individual romanticist from having confidence in himself, and compels him to rely on the outward deference of others to establish his personal self-regard, arise here once more to determine his attitude toward the collectivity; for it is in the membership in the collectivity, and here alone, that he finds reassurance to his own worth. If his own view of himself is to find enlargement, it can only be, as he sees it, through the enlargement of the collectivity of which he claims to be a part.
Hence many facets of his behavior. Hence the frequent demonstrational quality of his patriotism: the flag-waving, the sententious oratory, the endless reminders of the country's greatness, the pious incantations of the oath of allegiance, and hushed, pseudo-religious atmophere of national ceremony. Hence the self-righteous intolerance toward those who decline to share in these various ritualistic enactments. Hence the extreme national touchiness, the preoccupation with the outward symbols of national honor, the truculent sensitivity to the views of others. Hence, finally, a more serious than all the rest; the fondness for seeing the country's superiority made manifest and confirmed by military posture or, if possible, on the field of battle. Hence all that goes with that frame of mind in real war or in cold war: the demonization of the real or imaginary opponent; the hysterical search for secret agents of the opponent in one's own midst; the subordination of all other values to the military ones; and the fatuous dream that at the end of this sacrifice of the cream of one's own youth---and the enemy's---there will, or can, be such a thing as a glorious "victory."
Around the Cragged Hill, pp 79-80"
A very good article Allan. The chauvinistic call it "American Exceptionalism". It seems to me, this is meant to end all debate. Things are as they should be and because those things (and we, although this does not necessarily include --> "you" <-- ) are exceptional, they do not require modification or improvement. We've painted ourselves into a corner. Because we cannot admit to possible error, we cannot be humble (except to admit that we are in fact THE MOST AWESOMELY humble) and we cannot allow even the suggestion of a superior, alternate course of action.
Of course, all this goes out the window if "the alien other" is in the white house. In that case, he too must be part of the invading horde that does not represent proper American values. We can enjoy all the benefits while owning none of the blame.
I felt like taking a shower after reading what Giuliani said. Egads!, and they want us to vote for them?
I'm not looking for a Ruler. I'm looking for someone who recognizes problems, searches for solutions and attempts to get stuff done.Even if those attempts do not pan out, others will be tried that might. That would be a patriot in my mind. Putting the party before this country is not.
Kennan's book from which I took the quote was published in 1993. He lived to be 101 and at 97 made a speech on the dangers of war with Iraq. Sharp intellect was his signal feature. The story of the Long Telegram is worth reading. Kennan was fluent in Russian and German and understood the Soviet Union better than anyone at the time, but was not enough of a hawk for conservatives.
I like that.
There are a lot of tumors scars left from 9/11. They were a product of the collective fear inspired by the weak among us.
I think it is just more of the "not born in America" and "born in Kenya" chant poorly disguised. Republicans have no platform so they have to try to destroy their opponents through outrageous accusations. They have been trying to destroy this president from day one and here of late it has really gotten crazy with this Netanyahu invite and the letter to Iran. What next?