The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

50° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Patriotism doesn’t mean blind obediance

    Stating that your political opponents are “”anti-American”” is not a new political tactic. In fact, it’s probably as old as, well, America. But they’ve found an unusually large amount of use in this election cycle, probably due to the nomination of Sen. Barack Obama who, according to the Republicans, is a festering cesspool of anti-American views and associations.

    Pinning down exactly what these people mean by “”anti-American”” is, to paraphrase Sen. John McCain, like nailing Jell-O to the wall. But I’m about to attempt the impossible here.

    As far as anti-American fanatics go, you just can’t beat Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But why is this man anti-American? Because he stated some unflattering things about the United States government, some of which were untrue (for example, the American government didn’t create the AIDS virus) and some of which were true (the government has done some unsavory things, such as the debatably unnecessary bombing of Hiroshima and wiping out of Native American tribes)?

    Not really. The statement that drew the ire of most conservatives was the same kind of linguistic fumble that conservatives themselves are guilty of. Wright stated “”God damn America!”” when what he meant was “”God damn the American government!”” Oddly enough, the message of that particular sermon, that people should place faith not in the temporary governments of man but in the kingdom of God, is one with which most conservatives would probably agree.

    Take a gander at Bill Ayers, too. Was this man ever really anti-American? His organization instigated riots and attempted bombings of government buildings in response to U.S. military action in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Say what you want about the Weathermen’s despicable methods, but. strictly speaking, these are anti-American government acts, not anti-American acts.

    Is anti-Americanism merely opposition to the United States government? Obviously not, or else half of Americans would be anti-American at any given time. Is it acknowledging the unsavory things that Americans have done in the past? No, because then just about every historian would be anti-American (although maybe that’s what some Republicans really think).

    Perhaps the problem lies in the definition of “”American.””

    Some conservatives have blindly accepted a cookie-cutter vision of America that doesn’t jive with the facts. The comments of such conservatives as Rep. Michele Bachmann, R.-Minn., and Gov. Sarah Palin reveal that, to them, “”American”” means born in America, pro-Christian right, pro-war in Iraq, pro-capitalism and small town values (whatever those are). People who are pro-America think that our country can do (and has done) no wrong and is better than sliced bread. To suggest otherwise is heresy.

    To summarize: Joe the plumber is a real American, but Mike the professor, Juan the immigrant laborer and Barack the community organizer are not.

    In reality, America is not a government. It is not a plot of land. It isn’t even the Constitution. It is not small towns or white, rural Christians. It is about 300 million people, their trust and well-being, and a few difficult-to-define cultural and political features most of them hold in common.

    Some conservatives have it completely backwards. Real anti-Americanism is representatives like Bachmann resurrect the ghost of Sen. Joseph McCarthy by accusing others of being closet anti-Americans and calling for penetrating “”exposés”” into imagined anti-American views.

    Anti-Americanism is when senators use the power vested in them to pursue personal vendettas rather than seek justice for Americans. Sen. Norm Coleman, R.-Minn., did exactly this when, as Ranking Member of the Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, he squandered the opportunity to hammer Bush’s shills and cronies for their mishandling and abuse of the war in Iraq in favor of levying phony charges against anti-war activists like George Galloway who had embarrassed him personally.

    Anti-Americanism is when corrupt individuals like Karl Rove betray patriotic soldiers who want to defend America and strengthen our freedoms by pushing them into a war which has nothing to do with either of those.

    And when it comes to so-called anti-American associations, let’s take a page from the Bible and judge politicians by their actions, not their friends,

    business colleagues or religious advisers. Matthew 7:16-17 tell us: “”Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.””

    The notion that Obama is “”anti-American”” merely by virtue of having friends who have opposed our government is laughable. And the fact that some people are seriously making this accusation ought to send a chill down the spine of every American, real or fake.

    Thoughtlessly throwing around allegations of anti-Americanism makes it more difficult to root out real anti-American activity when it goes on, and it lessens the willingness of Americans to do the one thing that is obviously pro-American – to be eternally skeptical, vigilant and critical of the government, whether it’s run by liberals or by conservatives.

    – Taylor Kessinger is a senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, math and physics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search