I Wanna Know What Love (of America) Is

One can’t be surprised that Rudy Giuliani goes out and makes some asinine comments about the President, and double-downs on the asinine-ness in trying to explain them away. It has been the only real means he’s gotten any attention for years, saying something provocative so people will talk about him, trying to still coast on the image of “America’s Mayor” from 9/11, surviving on the support of people who refuse to read the post-attack investigations that showed how many times he chose wrong in preparing NYC for an inevitable attack.
But he goes after Obama for a supposed lack of “Love of America”. Whatever the hell that means. In the context of what Giuliani says, it means having a different philosophy on how to move forward than Giuliani, or any of the Republicans who flash the flag as a means of distracting from the actual political actions they take.
It means their view of military action as the ultimate answer to foreign policy is right, anyone who thinks different is surrendering. It means claiming that America has by far the best healthcare system in the world is right, any anyone who cites the actual data and looks to counties with better systems for solutions are socialist bastards bent on destroying our economy. It means that since 1964, race relations would be fair and level if it weren’t for the problems African-Americans bring on themselves, and anyone who acknowledges that African-Americans are perceived as “less American” that whites, or that there are less opportunities to advance to that same population and wants to try to fix them, is a race baiter, looking for America to fall in a race war.
No, none of those are signs of people who hate America, who want to see it go away, who wants to harm the citizens. It is, indeed, different from the love Giuliani and his supporters. The question is, what is the real difference?
When we are kids, we love our parents, unconditionally. When we are grown up, most of us are lucky to still love our parents and have a better relationship than when we were younger. But the nature of that love is quite different.
As a kid, one’s dad or mom can do anything. Arguments erupt in schoolyards over whose dad is better than whose. My dad can beat up your dad. Oh, yeah, my dad can dunk a basketball standing still? Oh, yeah, my dad can jump so high he stands on the rim when he dunks. And so on, and so on. And as kids, we say these things out of an innate love for our parents. But there is no basis in facts. In fact, as kids, we ignore anything empirical that might tarnish our superhero parental image, calling those who dare bring that up crap-head or some other creative curse.
As adults though, we can see our parents’ faults. Some you just accept. Oh, that’s just how Mom is. Some might be a matter of contention. But when we love our parents as adults, we do it fully recognizing the areas where they fall short. We may even appreciate more the things they were able to do even with their faults.
Obama has repeatedly mentioned in his books and in speeches about the opportunities the United States provided him as the son of a single mother. He’s talked about the promise of America, how it has acted as a beacon for nations and peoples around the world. But he’s also mentioned where America has stumbled, where the deeds have fallen short of the words of her promise. How the echo of 400 years of racist policy still affects people’s day-to-day lives, how not everyone is born with the same opportunity as everyone else, how we are a prosperous nation that is an outlier in making people go without proper medical attention.
To say those things is not to hate America, but to love America and want to see it live up to its potential. To recognize that like everything else in the world, nothing is perfect, but we should keep striving to be better and better.
The alternative is to pretend that America is the most awesomest nation in all things. America, as a country, is better than your country. America can beat up your country. America cannot only dunk a basketball, but jumps so high that it stands on the rim when it does so. That when faced with the data that shows our health system ranked in the mid20s in many major categories, to give the rhetorical equivalent of “Nuh-uh! Shut Up! America is the bestest!” That’s the behavior that Giuliani and his supporters want to see.
That is still a love of America. But it isn’t a very useful one. If we don’t stop and assess what is wrong, beyond the fact that there are politicians who disagree with us so they must be evil, we cannot get better. We will not improve. We will, in fact, atrophy, because as long as we stay in place and the rest of the world adapts and changes and moves ahead, we’ll just fall behind.
So, unlike Giuliani, we shouldn’t turn the tables and say that it’s really him that doesn’t love America. We need to recognize how much he really does, just as a 5-year-old loves his dad. And if you don’t agree with him, well, you’re just a poopy-head.

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